Let’s face it: These days, we’re all leading over-scheduled, over-stressed, over-exhausted lives. When it starts to feel like too much, you might contemplate a last-minute getaway. But travel is expensive – how can you restore your sanity without breaking the bank?
Don’t worry, the Nerds are here to help. By combining the savings offered through the discount travel site CheapTickets and rewards you’ll earn with the right travel credit card, sneaking in some rest and relaxation at an exotic locale is more affordable than you might think.
What is CheapTickets?
If you’ve never heard of CheapTickets, here’s the story. Established in Hawaii in 1986 and now owned by Orbitz, CheapTickets is designed for budget-conscious leisure travelers. You can book air travel, hotels, rental cars, vacation packages and cruises, as well as purchase event tickets, through the site, all at competitive prices that are hard to find easily elsewhere.
I spoke with Sam Fulton, president of U.S. Consumer Travel for Orbitz Worldwide, who emphasized that CheapTickets is the ideal site for “deal hunters” who want to get the most bang for every travel buck they spend. If that sounds like you, read on. While CheapTickets has always provided great value to its users, the company is taking that mission a step further with a new loyalty program.
CheapTickets’s new loyalty program could save you big bucks
On July 23, 2014, CheapTickets launched a loyalty program designed to take its members’ travel savings to the next level. The company listened to feedback from its users and designed a clear, straightforward and easy-to-use program that meets the needs of busy, value-seeking travelers. The program has four primary features:
CheapCash – Probably the most exciting aspect of the new CheapTickets loyalty program is its CheapCash offering. Every time you purchase a flight on the site, you’ll earn $50 in CheapCash, which can be redeemed on another CheapTickets travel booking. If you want, you can hold on to your CheapCash for up to 30 days. But you also have the option of using it right away on a hotel booking. This means you can see immediate savings on your upcoming trip.
If you book through the CheapTickets mobile app, you can earn on both air and hotel — $75 when booking a flight ($50 plus $25 app bonus) and $25 when booking hotel ($25 app bonus).
Customers are saving an average of 13% on their travel bookings using CheapCash, according to Gayle Pigatto, General Manager of CheapTickets. That’s enough to free up some extra funds to use when you get to your destination.
Cheap of the Week – Once a week, CheapTickets features a major deal on a selection of hotels on its site. This means you have a chance to get a stellar price (an additional 20% off!) at the Cheap of the Week hotel picks. Since this is a weekly promotion, there’s bound to be spot that catches your eye over the course of a year. And to sweeten the deal, you can still earn Cheap Cash when you use the Cheap of the Week promo code.
In a call, Pigatto told the Nerds that CheapTickets members who take advantage of the Cheap of the Week offer are saving $95 per transaction on average. She also noted that most members are reinvesting that savings into their vacation by extending their stays. She said members are staying an average of 18% longer when they use the Cheap of the Week.
Best price guarantee – There’s nothing worse than purchasing your tickets, only to find a better price elsewhere. With CheapTickets, this is no longer a concern. With the site’s best-price guarantee, if you find the same airline, hotel or rental car booking somewhere else for a lower price, CheapTickets will match it and give you an extra $50 in Cheap Cash for your trouble. All you have to do is fill out a simple online form.
Nerd note: If you want to take advantage of the Best Price Guarantee, it’s important to keep certain deadlines in mind. If you’ve purchased airline tickets, you have 24 hours to file your online form. Hotel customers have until cancellation fees kick in (usually 24-48 hours before your stay), and rental car customers have to file before the car’s scheduled pickup time.
Hotel pricing comparison – To make the process of shopping for the best hotel deal a little easier, CheapTickets is now providing hotel pricing comparisons on the same page as your hotel search returns. No extra clicks are required to see the best price – competitors’ prices for the same room on the same day will be displayed alongside your CheapTickets offer. Featured competitors include Expedia, Priceline and Orbitz (among others).
Pick the right credit card to get to “Bon voyage” faster
CheapTickets is a great option for saving a bundle on your getaway, but to really stretch your dollar you’ll need to use the right credit card, too. Your best bet is to pick a card that offers a great rewards rate and will allow you to redeem your points or miles for purchases made through discount travel sites. That way, you can rack up rewards on your day-to-day spending, find a great deal on CheapTickets, and redeem your rewards in the form of a statement credit to bring the cost of your vacation down even more.
While it might seem like you’re looking for a unicorn, there are two great cards that fit this bill perfectly:
The Nerds’ top pick: Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
One of our favorite travel credit cards is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®. With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, you’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend on any purchase. Miles are worth $.01 each, but you receive a 5% bonus when you redeem. Plus, you can use your miles for a statement credit for nearly any travel purchase you’ve made in the past 120 days – including discount travel sites. In short, this card makes it easy to save big on your next big trip.
Our (very close) second choice: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
If you’re looking for a great travel rewards credit card that charges no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee, look no further than the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. With this card, you’ll earn 1.5 points for every dollar you spend on purchases. As with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, you have the flexibility to redeem your points for the travel purchase of your choice. Earning and redeeming are both easy and convenient.
This card is an especially good choice for Bank of America® banking customers because you’ll have the opportunity to earn a points dividend of 25%, 50% or 75% through the Preferred Rewards program. The bonus you’ll receive depends on the types of accounts you have and your total balances.
Travelers image via Shutterstock