How to Save Money on International Flights

Finding good deals on international flights has a lot to do with where you're flying from.
Mar 23, 2022

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Not everyone has the luxury of shopping among airports for the best deals on international flights. For many of us, there’s one airport nearby and then it’s a layover at a major hub before heading on to your international destination.

But if you're lucky enough to be able to travel from certain airports, your chances of scoring cheap international flights could be higher.

Here’s where you'll find some of those cheap airports, and tips on how to save no matter where you're traveling from.

Best tips to save money on international flights

Travel from strategic airports

The website Scott’s Cheap Flights has compiled a list of the U.S. airports that are most likely to offer deals on international flights.

If you can travel from one of these airports — or perhaps take a cheap connecting flight to reach them — you're off to a good start. Those airports are:

  1. New York-JFK.

  2. Newark.

  3. Chicago.

  4. Los Angeles.

  5. Washington Dulles.

  6. Miami.

  7. San Francisco.

  8. Boston.

  9. Philadelphia.

  10. Dallas-Fort Worth.

Look at all your options

Generally speaking, travel to Europe from the East Coast will be cheaper — and you'll have many more options in terms of airlines and routes to fly. Conversely, travel to places like Asia and Australia will be less expensive from the West Coast, and nonstop options will open up considerably.

Wherever your home airport, use sites like Google Flights or Skyscanner to explore prices for a few different destinations that interest you. If you can, travel outside of heavy peak season at your destination. You could save hundreds of dollars that way.

Don't forget to earn miles

The savings don't stop when you find that cheap flight: You can earn travel rewards to make the effective cost of a ticket even cheaper.

One of the easiest ways to do this is by joining an airline’s loyalty rewards program, such as United MileagePlus or Delta SkyMiles.

In addition to earning miles when you fly with those specific airlines, you can also sometimes earn miles on partner airlines. (For example, you can earn American AAdvantage miles when you fly on alliance partner British Airways.) Check each program’s site to see current eligible partners.

To earn points no matter what airline you’re flying on, use a travel rewards credit card to buy your ticket. Some cards are tied to specific airlines, but those points tend to be less flexible.

There are a number of programs to choose from, many of which offer bonus rewards when used to purchase travel, regardless of the destination or airline. The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offer large sign-up bonuses and a $300 annual travel credit.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a perennial favorite, and both Bank of America and Wells Fargo offer travel-focused cards you can use to earn points. Just be mindful of annual fees, which can eat away at the value of any sign-up bonuses.

Frequently asked questions
Which day is the cheapest to book a flight?

Flight prices fluctuate widely. According to Skyscanner, the cheapest day to book a flight is Saturday, but the price difference between Saturday and the other days is negligible. Domestic flights only varied by a few dollars each day, and international flights varied by less than $20. Instead of choosing a specific day to book, the best practice is set a price alert so you can book as soon as the fare drops.

How can I fly for free?

You can use airline miles, credit card points or a companion pass to fly for almost free. Even with these types of tickets, you usually still have to pay some minimal taxes and fees. To get started, join an airline loyalty program or get a travel credit card to start earning travel rewards for a free flight.

How do I find the cheapest flights?

To find the cheapest flights, you’ll want to start your search early and research your various options. Flying in or out of a different airport or adjusting your travel dates to less popular times might help you snag better deals. Your flight search engine’s map view or calendar view are helpful in finding those, or you can let the search engine do the work and set a price alert so you can get notified as soon as the price drops.

What is the least expensive day to fly internationally?

Data from Hopper suggests the cheapest day to fly internationally is Wednesday, both for departing flights and return flights. However, there is no one day of the week that will guarantee a cheaper flight, especially with international flights, because some destinations are not even on the same side of the international dateline. Your best bet to find a cheap international flight is to look at a calendar of prices and compare different travel dates. Then set a price alert so you can get notified to book when the fares are low.

Do flight prices go up the more you search?

Airlines say the prices fluctuate as inventory rises and falls, and fares generally do get more expensive as it gets closer to the departure date, even from the time you checked a few hours earlier. The evidence is mixed about who is actually seeing higher prices than other people searching, but the takeaway is it is good to check the cost both logged in and completely incognito with your browser to shop around for the best price.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

partner programs

IHG® Rewards Program

on IHG One Rewards’ website

IHG® One Rewards
Get exclusive benefits and earn points faster
World of Hyatt

on Hyatt's website

World of Hyatt
Enjoy free nights, member rates and more
logo image

on Alaska's website

Alaska Mileage Plan
Join Mileage Plan and Save $25 on your next flight
IHG® Rewards Program

IHG® One Rewards

Wherever you go, however you stay, IHG One Rewards offers rewards for every one.

on IHG One Rewards’ website

Highlights:
  1. Cheers to new tiers: New tiers allow members to earn points faster.
  2. Piling on the perks: New members benefits that enhance every stay
  3. Milestone Rewards: Allows members to choose their rewards.
Highlights
  1. Cheers to new tiers: New tiers allow members to earn points faster.
  2. Piling on the perks: New members benefits that enhance every stay
  3. Milestone Rewards: Allows members to choose their rewards.

on IHG One Rewards’ website

World of Hyatt

World of Hyatt

With the World of Hyatt loyalty program, enjoy a world of rewards designed to revolve around you.

on Hyatt's website

Highlights:
  1. Earn points for things you already enjoy with Hyatt
  2. Use your points for free nights at more than 1,100 hotels around the world
  3. Three elite tiers to unlock exceptional benefits - room upgrades and more.
Highlights
  1. Earn points for things you already enjoy with Hyatt
  2. Use your points for free nights at more than 1,100 hotels around the world
  3. Three elite tiers to unlock exceptional benefits - room upgrades and more.

on Hyatt's website

logo image

Alaska Mileage Plan

Mileage Plan is Alaska's loyalty program for anyone who loves to travel and is free to join!

on Alaska's website

Highlights:
  1. Join Mileage Plan and Save $25 on your next flight
  2. Our members earn 30% more miles on average than other airlines
  3. You earn based on how far you fly, not how much you spend
Highlights
  1. Join Mileage Plan and Save $25 on your next flight
  2. Our members earn 30% more miles on average than other airlines
  3. You earn based on how far you fly, not how much you spend

on Alaska's website

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