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Taking a vacation comes with all sorts of excitement: seeing the sights of an enticing city, visiting old friends or having new experiences. But unfortunately, it also comes with a price tag. Nevertheless, ways to save on airfare exist, and a trip doesn't have to be too costly.
Take Delta Air Lines, for example. Delta passengers can fly to about 300 destinations in more than 50 countries and still find ways to save on airfare.
Here are six tips and tricks to book cheaper Delta Air Lines flights.
6 ways to save money on Delta flights
1. Take advantage of Delta's change and cancellation policy
Delta no longer charges change or cancellation fees on most reservations (except basic economy fares). So, if you booked a Delta flight directly with the airline and it has dropped in price, you can make a change for free. Even if you pick a new departure time, you can rebook and keep the price difference in the form of an eCredit.
You won't get refunded to your original form of payment. Instead, the eCredit will be issued and it can be applied toward a new reservation as long as you make it by Dec. 31, 2023 (for travel through 2024). This method allows you to save money on a future flight.
» Learn more: How to use flight credits on Delta
If you notice that the price of a flight has dropped within 24 hours of booking it, feel free to cancel it and book a new trip instead. In this case, a risk-free cancellation policy applies, and the money goes back to the original payment method.
2. Open a co-branded Delta credit card
American Express issues co-branded Delta SkyMiles credit cards. If you qualify for a line of credit with AmEx, you can open a Delta card and earn frequent flyer miles called SkyMiles.
SkyMiles lets you book award flights with miles, so you can pay little out-of-pocket to fly Delta or one of its partners. Of course, taxes still apply to award tickets. Nevertheless, you can save quite a bit of cash by redeeming SkyMiles for flights.
On average, Delta SkyMiles are worth 1.3 cents apiece, according to NerdWallet’s valuation. If you’re booking an expensive flight, expect to redeem more miles, since Delta's award prices are dynamic. Aim to get a value of at least 1.3 cents when you divide the price in cash (minus taxes and fees) by the number of miles required.
Some Delta credit cards include other benefits, such as free checked bags for you and up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation.
» Learn more: Which Delta credit card should I get?
3. Watch for flash sales
Speaking of SkyMiles, Delta periodically runs deals on its flights booked with miles. So if you're flexible with travel dates and perhaps your destination, you can score some incredible redemption rates.
We've seen some lucrative deals on flights to Hawaii, Alaska, Central America, and even Australia in the past.
The upside is you get to use fewer miles for trips that usually require you to spend more miles. The downside is you don't get to choose a destination and must go with the flow.
However, if you have a severe case of wanderlust and don't care where you go as long as you get a good deal, these flash sales aren't a bad way to use rewards to travel.
4. For award travel to Europe, book round-trip flights instead of one way
Delta doesn't impose surcharges on travel originating in the United States when redeeming SkyMiles for award flights. However, you'll likely see carrier-imposed surcharges on travel originating in European cities, such as Amsterdam, London and Paris.
For this reason, if you plan a trip to the European continent with Delta miles, it's best to book a round-trip itinerary originating in the U.S. instead of booking two separate one-way flights. You'll eliminate the international surcharge and keep more money in your pocket.
» Learn more: How to choose a credit card for Europe travel
5. Travel during shoulder season
When we plan a trip, we often use a starry-eyed approach. Everything has to be perfect: length of trip, hotel location, weather. However, having a little flexibility with multiple trip components can help you save (and pad your budget for food or activities at your destination).
If you don't mind less-than-ideal weather, boarding a flight during the shoulder season can save you a lot of money. For example, taking a trip to Europe between January and April, or flying to Australia between June and August, can improve the likelihood of finding inexpensive airfare.
It might rain during your vacation, but a pair of waterproof boots and an umbrella can keep you dry and ready to explore a new city. The sights are still going to be there no matter the season. And who knows, you might get lucky with the weather and still enjoy a less expensive trip.
6. Depart mid-week, avoid Mondays and weekends
In addition to being flexible with the season, we recommend being fluid with your departure days. For example, although it's appealing to plan a trip around weekends to maximize your paid time off at work, departing in the middle of the week is typically cheaper than traveling Friday to Sunday.
Monday is another day to stay away from flying because it's popular with business travelers hitting the road early in the week.
Whether traveling internationally or domestically or paying with cash or SkyMiles, you can save money on Delta flights by choosing to depart Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday on the outbound and return flights.
Keep in mind that this booking method isn't exclusive to Delta. Other carriers price their flights similarly, with mid-week days being the most affordable.
» Learn more: The best way to book flights
If you want to score discounted Delta flights
It doesn't matter if you're a frequent flyer or not. If you're as flexible as you are creative, you can save money on Delta flights.
Stick to mid-week travel days, go during the off-season and use Delta's flexible change and cancellation policy to your advantage. Don't forget to redeem SkyMiles. Watch out for award flight sales to boost your savings and stretch your miles. Finally, if you're traveling to Europe, book a round-trip itinerary originating in the U.S. Keeping these tips in mind will have you locating affordable Delta tickets like a pro.
Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines.
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:
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