How to save on travel varies based on how often you travel. If you’re a very frequent traveler, you may benefit from your loyalty since it will earn you free flights, hotel nights, and car rentals. But, if you’re not a frequent traveler, those loyalty points rarely add up to anything substantial, and may actually expire before you accrue enough to cash them in.
So, if you’re an infrequent traveler, here is one way to play save some money without too much hassle. The trade-off here is that you’ll receive larger discounts on your travel arrangements in exchange for not accruing loyalty points.
Here is how I recommend doing this.
1. Sign up with MrRebates.com. (BTW, if you do it through that link, I’ll get a referral bonus.) MrRebates.com offers rebates on online purchases from a boatload of online retailers, including many travel related sites.
2. Click on the Travel category of MrRebates.com, then sort the category by rebate percentage. Near the top will likely be travel clothing and luggage retailers. Scroll past that until you find sites for booking cars and hotels, like this:
Click through to relevant sites to book your hotel and/or car.
3. Now, scroll further down to find an airline site. You should see many airlines as well as travel agency websites like Expedia and Travelocity:
Why book the flight separately from the hotel and car? Air travel has much lower margins than car rentals and hotel rooms so they can’t offer as large of a rebate. Booking the entire package through a site like Expedia would generate a lower rebate (or, Delta will offer a flat $2 rebate). One exception: You may be able to find a package deal on a travel agency website, so it may be worth starting with your air then circling back to hotel and car once you’ve booked that.
How much will this save you? Assuming $600 for a pair of airline tickets, $120/night for a room, and $50/day for a car on a 4 day 3 night weekend trip, that’s $37.50 in savings for a few extra clicks.
What about Priceline?
Priceline is on the list, so you could save an additional 2% on top of Priceline’s already discounted prices. The blind booking of airfares is a deal killer for many people. That said, the rental cars are from major brands and really do offer some great deals. Hotel rooms can be a little inconsistent for location and star rating, but the deals may make up for it in some cases. Which is why I recommend the plan outlined above. A nice discount while still maintaining control of your itinerary.