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Travel Tuesday sounds like a made-up holiday, but the deals this year are real. Following the clamoring and credit card swiping on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, shoppers also get the chance to scoop up discounts on flights, hotels and vacation packages on Dec. 3 this year.
Hopper consumer travel expert Liana Corwin says the company’s chief data scientist was looking into travel deals for Cyber Monday a few years ago, when he noticed the highest volume of deals (and best deals) were actually available on the following Tuesday instead.
When Hopper dug into the numbers a little more, it found that last year travelers booked 80% more trips on Travel Tuesday than Black Friday — and 40% more than on Cyber Monday. With holiday travel already booked, travel demand is traditionally lower in late November and December, which makes it a good time to find a well-priced trip.
» Learn more: What to buy (and skip) on Black Friday
Here are some strategies for getting the best deal:
Set price alerts now
If you already have a dream 2020 destination in mind, set a price alert for flights on sites like Google Flights, Kayak or Hopper. That way, if your destination is part of a Travel Tuesday deal, you’ll be one of the first to know.
In the event that your destination goes on sale before Travel Tuesday, you can lock in the price on some flights with tools like Fare Lock on United Airlines or Price Freeze on Hopper. These tools usually cost a small fee, but they’ll give you peace of mind that you’re getting the lowest price — and you can wait it out until Travel Tuesday to see if the price drops even more.
Just like shopping at brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday, you’ll want to start looking at deals as early as possible. There’s usually a limited supply of the cheapest fares, and you could miss them if you don’t start looking until later in the day.
Check airline websites — and think international
Travel Tuesday is a relatively new phenomenon, and airlines may not necessarily advertise a related sale. After all, you can find cheap flights all year long. If you have a specific airline credit card or you’re loyal to a certain airline, check their website on Travel Tuesday to see if they’ve dropped their prices to compete with the airlines that are running a sale.
Corwin says the biggest savings will likely be found on international trips because those are generally more expensive in the base case. Several international airlines are planning to have Travel Tuesday deals, including:
Air New Zealand.
Ukraine International Airlines.
Check their websites on Travel Tuesday for more information.
Look for OTA savings
Booking through an online travel agency (OTA) might provide extra savings, too. For example, Expedia has already announced some special offers, including $100 off of $200 flights when you book through the app with a coupon on Black Friday. Expedia hadn't yet publicized any Travel Tuesday promotions when we last checked, but don't rule them out.
Hopper is also offering $50 to $200 cash back when you book round-trip flights to certain destinations, including Auckland, Bali, Nairobi, Rome, Lihue (Hawaii), and multiple cities in Thailand and the Czech Republic.
The bottom line
Travel Tuesday is a relatively new shopping holiday. You can find travel deals by setting price alerts and checking travel companies’ website on Dec. 3 — but remember, it’s not the only time of year you’ll find discounts.
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 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best travel credit card for you Black Friday is more than just one day Earn more points and miles with these 6 strategies