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Find a cheap positioning flight to a major hub and book your international trip from there.
Tools like Google Flights or Skyscanner allow you to browse multiple destinations and price points at once.
Join the airline's loyalty program to earn miles on your trip and redeem them for future flights.
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:
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.
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 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card