Christmas is a cheerful time of year but it is also one of the most expensive times to travel, so it’s easy to feel the pinch when planning trips to visit family and friends interstate or overseas. For this week’s Santa Saver Challenge, who better to reveal the top ways to save on your travel booking than Vice President for KAYAK in APAC, Debby Soo. In this blog she reveals the hidden travel booking fees to avoid, so you’ll have more money to eat, drink and be merry. Here’s her advice:
Potential savings by booking with POLi, BPAY or Direct Deposit – up to $42.20
Airline carriers offer different payment methods which include at least one option that doesn’t incur a fee. It’s important to be aware of what is available in order to avoid paying unnecessary charges like high credit or debit card fees. For example, the average fee you’ll be charged for Mastercard Credit is $25.56, Mastercard Debit $32.32, Visa Credit $28.57 and Visa Debit $42.20.
To avoid being stung with such high credit/debit card payment fees there’s a simple solution, opting for POLi, BPAY or Direct Deposit. Here’s a quick rundown of each:
POLi: Most airlines offer POLi, an online payment method that allows secure payment for goods and services via internet banking. The cost of flights is directly transferred online, avoiding any potential fees. This form of payment is available when booking through airlines such as Virgin, Jetstar, Air New Zealand, Etihad Airways and Air Asia.
BPAY: Offered by QANTAS, BPAY is an easy, fee-free way to pay for flights departing Australia, directly via internet banking. When paying, BPAY should be selected as the payment option. A biller code and unique customer reference number will automatically appear on the final booking page and will be sent to the email address allocated to the booking.
Direct Deposit: Jetstar offers the option to pay via ‘Direct Deposit’, which incurs no surcharge fees. It’s straightforward and works by transferring funds to Jetstar directly, using the ‘Pay Anyone’ feature provided via online banking.
Potential savings by cutting out unnecessary extras – up to $70
‘Picking your seat’ is great when you’re on long haul international flights – there’s nothing quite like the freedom of stretching your legs in the exit row – but these desirable seats usually come at a cost. This can be expensive for families or groups wanting to be seated together. In reality, most airlines will seat you together if you check-in at the same time, which can save you up to $30.
KAYAK also recommends measuring up your luggage before you depart. Is 23kg really necessary? Many budget airlines also offer 15kg check-in baggage at a much lower cost. Better yet, consider flying with carry-on only. For instance if you’re flying with Jetstar this could save you up to $40.
TOTAL POTENTIAL SAVINGS: $112.20
Extra tips for saving on travel booking:
While paying via alternative methods to credit and debit and forfeiting unnecessary extras will save you a nice amount of coin that you can put towards everything from your Kris Kringle gift to packing your kid’s stockings, there are a few more tips that will see your savings soar even further:
– Know your timeline
Airlines have different terms and conditions in their booking options. The key to avoiding fees is not leaving booking to the last minute – after all Christmas comes the same time every year. BPAY is only available for bookings made at least seven days before departure. BPAY takes up to three business days to process, so the timeframe needs to be considered when paying with this method. The same goes for Jetstar, as the Direct Deposit option will only be presented if a booking is made more than 14 days prior to departure.
– Enlist the help of tools
Travel websites and apps are packed with smart tools to help with the booking process from the point of initial planning, all the way through the trip. To avoid nasty surprises and manage fees, KAYAK.com.au has introduced a Payment Fee Calculator which shows exactly what a flight will cost, including credit card fees, when searching what is available – no one likes getting to the final confirmation page only to notice the price has increased by 10%.
A return flight from Sydney to Los Angeles with Virgin Australia this December will set you back $2,001*. With KAYAK’s Payment Fee Calculator, which takes into account payment via Debit MasterCard, the true cost of the airfare is $2040 – a difference of $39.
– Pick your date
Being flexible with your departure date can often result in significant savings. Certain days of the week are less popular and therefore cheaper than others. The cheapest days to fly out are typically Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday.
At Christmas time this rule is often thrown out the window. The best deal will vary depending on the flight path and its duration, with some flights having arrival times that are more convenient than others (no one wants to be late for Christmas lunch!).
KAYAK’s top tip: to get the cheapest airfare consider flying out on Christmas Eve or even Christmas Day. A one way flight from Sydney to London on Christmas Eve costs $1056*. Departing three days earlier, on 21 December, will set you back $1571.
– Avoid pricey airline insurance
Some airlines offer their own travel insurance but these usually come at a premium price and are much cheaper when sourced elsewhere or coupled with your credit card. KAYAK recommends shopping around to get the best deal this Christmas.
Missed a week of our Santa Saver Challenge?
- In the first week, we revealed how the right bank account and savings account can set you up for successful saving in the lead up to Xmas.
- The next blog was a run through of the top ways to be a conscious consumer to help the environment and put more money in your pocket.
- We crunched the numbers to show you how a 0% credit cards, can help you steer through Christmas free of the bite of interest.
- And our frugal foodie week challenge blog, was all about cleaning out your pantry and bringing lunch to work for significant savings.