Planning a trip? Here’s how to keep costs low on your flights

planning a flight online and looking to save money with laptop phone and passport

You’ve been dreaming of beaches and cocktails, and now it’s time to book that trip - but ouch, those flights can sure sting. 

Even though it might be the last thing on your mind when you’re getting ready to travel, flights are one area it’s worth getting the best possible deal on. There are some tips and tricks you can use to keep your flight costs as low as possible. 

Here are some of our favourite hacks:

  • Be flexible with your dates
  • Clear your cookies regularly and browse incognito
  • Keep it simple with budget carriers and cheaper routes
  • Stay on top of hidden fees
  • Book internal flights separately
  • Maximise on bonuses with a travel credit card

With Australian borders open and travel spending up more than 600% on last year, according to NAB data, it’s time to get smart with how we’re seeing the world.

Be flexible with flight dates

Wanted to leave on a Friday, but Thursday is cheaper? Having some flexibility with your dates can lead to big time savings. A couple of days here and there can mean a couple of hundred dollars.

Skyscanner Australia puts the cheapest days to travel in Australia as Tuesday and Wednesday, with the cheapest months differ depending on location but tend to be lowest in May and outside of peak travel times (long weekends, school holidays and high summer). Play around with dates to see if you can score a cheaper flight.

Clear your cookies and browse incognito when shopping for flights

The airline industry is notorious for putting up prices as you continuously check fares in pursuit of a better deal.

To avoid this, make sure you’re regularly clearing the cookies on your browser. Check airfares on incognito mode, and make your final booking on a different device if you have one available.

Keep it simple with budget carriers and cheaper routes

If you’re keen to just get to your location, it might be worth stripping back on the travel costs. Budget airlines, like Jetstar and Scoot, offer the same function with a no-frills finish.

The cost can be super compelling, but remember that these fees don’t include checked luggage or, for the most part, in-air luxuries like meal service and in-seat entertainment. All of these things, plus options like choosing your seat or moving your flight, will attract extra fees.

You can also shave money off your flight by opting for the flights other people tend to steer clear of - think awkwardly timed, long layovers and red-eye flights. 

Consider whether the extra fees and the potential airport waits or layover accommodation are worthwhile. Sometimes adding checked luggage, meals and entertainment can make things more expensive than paying for an airfare with a full cost carrier.

man looking on phone for cheap deals on flights

Stay on top of hidden flight fees

Like those low-cost carriers charging for checked luggage, flying can come with a lot of unexpected costs. Knowing where they lie makes it easier to avoid them.

One common fee is for the luxury of seat selection, so you’ll often have to dig deeper to grab that aisle seat you’re after. If you’re paying for luggage, make sure you’ve considered the costs of all legs of the trip - these add up quickly! If entertainment is an extra cost, check whether your aircraft type features charger ports: you might be fine to save on a screen and use your own devices all flight long.

Changing your ticket almost always attracts an extra cost, so it’s best to be sure of your travel plans. If you do need some extra flexibility, sometimes you will have the option to pay a bit extra for a ticket that can be moved (within reason).

Book internal flights separately

Planning some big trip with a lot of moving around? If you’re hopping around Europe or seeing the States, you might find that local low-cost carriers offer better deals than the ones you can book from home. Compare your options to see what serves your budget best.

Maximise on bonuses with a travel credit card

We talk a lot about travel cards, and how to make informed choices with choosing the card for you. Now let’s talk about the places it can actually save you money.

While a travel-orientated credit card is only one way to pay for travel expenses (consider also a holiday loan or putting a savings goal in place), it’s one of the few ways that has added travel-related perks.

A card partnered with a specific airline or frequent flyer program will allow you to earn points for your day-to-day spending that can then be redeemed on flights and upgrades. Making the most of points promotions through the year and redeeming them effectively won’t make flights cheap, but can reduce your total.

Many cards offer a degree of travel insurance to the cardholder, as well as perks like access to airport lounges, international wi-fi hotspot access, hotel upgrades, and credits to spend on things like car rental or accommodation.

If you’re looking more for cards to use once you land, look to options with a low foreign exchange margin to help you save on some jaw-dropping exchange fees. Make sure to keep fees like this in mind to save yourself a shock when that bill comes through.

For the ultimate essential you that’s worth splashing out on, check out our guide to cheap travel insurance. If you’re looking for a travel card, take a look at Mozo’s picks for best travel money.

Compare travel rewards cards - last updated 18 April 2024

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