Friday, March 28, 2008

My momma told me: "You better shop around..."

There’s nothing you can’t buy online at a discount. Clothing, Shoes, Electronics, Cars, Mortgages, Retirement Plans, Hotels, Airline Tickets, Rental Cars… In fact, there are so many travel related sites out there now, that’s it’s become a chore visit each one individually to price out a trip to find out which ones are giving you the best deal. I recently shopped for airline tickets to Las Vegas using all of the well-known major discount travel sites to compare prices, and found that all of them either returned the exact same fare, or they were within a couple of dollars of each other. Where’s the savings in that? Depending on destinations the price difference is negligible because the airlines have given the same discount to all of their travel affiliates, giving no real advantage. (although if you belong to a points program, some of them can give you extra perks – more on that in a moment) But there are sites out there that have started to make the search process a lot easier. is a site I recently came across that seems to do a great job of price shopping the airlines without having to be bombarded with special vacation offers that don’t interest you. If all you need are cheap airline tickets, Cfares is definitely worth a look. Prices are competitive and the interface is easy to use, so I highly recommend you give them a try.

If you belong to the “Thank-you” rewards program (which Citi cards participates in) not only do you earn points for using your credit card, sites like Expedia awards “Thank-you” members additional points for the purchase of your itinerary. Basically you get to double-dip and increase your point balance, because you get points for using your credit card and also for the trip purchased. However, you should weigh the value of the points against any price difference between Expedia and other travel sites. Another excellent site for price comparing between various travel sites is You enter in your trip info and Kayak will pull the results from the major travel sites to help you find the best deal. Another thing to consider is to try going directly to an airline (or hotel) website and seeing what their direct-to-consumer prices are. Sometimes you will find that they offer better specials or deals than what you may find through their travel partners. It pays to shop around.

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