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How to find cheap plane tickets

How to...fly without breaking the bank

Spring is here and the welcome sun and singing birds are inspiring us to board a jet plane and fly somewhere fabulous. That inspiration lasts until the moment we eagerly hit the flight search engines during our lunch break — then come those numbers. Hello, vacation killer. Have no fear. There is a way to beat the search engines.

Woman in airport

Prices on plane tickets are, unfortunately, higher than ever (and so is our desire to escape the city and suburbs). Secret: Plane ticket prices are designed to be highest when consumers are most likely to search. Follow these steps to find the best and most affordable tickets for your spring getaway and beyond.

Step 1: Search at the right time

Searching when the rest of the world is buying plane tickets is a sure way to pay top fare. There are two optimal times to make the final click — very early morning (after midnight Eastern time) and in the late afternoon (3 p.m. Eastern time). Pro tip: Be sure to buy your tickets on Tuesday. According to farecompare.com, this is when tickets are cheapest.

Step: 2: Pick your travel days carefully

When buying tickets, you have to take into consideration when everyone else will be flying — the majority of America is on your nine-to-five schedule, too. It is internationally known among successful ticket buyers that the best and cheapest days to fly are Wednesday, Tuesday and Saturday.

Step 3: Buy at the right time

There is a myth that buying months upon months in advance will yield the cheapest prices; this is false. While it’s true calculated and early buys can save you money, it’s not as far in advance as you may think. The cheapest times are typically six months and 21 days before departure. Sometimes times people find last-minute deals, but it is a risk I wouldn’t recommend taking.

Step 4: Window-shop

Never settle for only one search engines results. Be sure to have multiple windows open and compare prices with a scrutinizing eye. A few of my go-to ticket search engines are Kayak, Hipmunk, and Faregeek.

Step 4: Buy separately

When you buy for multiple passengers, often search engines are programmed to show you the most expensive options. It's worth it to experiment with prices by investigating whether you could save you money by dividing the transaction into two or three.

Step 5: Get a travel credit card

If you haven’t already, apply for a credit card that rewards you in the form of travel points and miles. It’s the most amazing concept ever and a win-win for your credit score and your dreams of traveling. Often these cards have promotional deals where you automatically earn 30,000 points for signing up or spending your first $500. Free baggage and quick check-ins are an added perk. It will make your traveling days smoother and cheaper — forever.

More travel tips for your spring getaway

Spring break safety: Travel tips for teens and college
Best spring break travel destinations for everyone
5 Under-the-radar spring break destinations

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