Book the cheapest trip possible when you travel out of Singapore during long weekends and public holidays. It’s easy to whip out your credit card and start booking trips online, if you don’t care about overspending. If you’re on a budget however, you need to be more clever about how you book your trip. Here’s some ways you can fly further for less. These are especially useful when your travel dates fall within long weekends or peak season:
1. Browse in incognito mode before booking flights or hotel rooms
Nope, you didn’t imagine that price increase on the flight to Bali after searching for it a few times. Most websites and flight search engines install cookies on your browser that tracks your visits. Every time you return to the site, prices rise a little. This is because they know you’re serious about making your booking, or else you wouldn’t keep coming back so often. It’s also their way of pressuring you into making your booking before prices rise even further. To avoid these sneaky price hikes, clear your browser and search while on incognito or private mode. This keeps the websites from “remembering” your visits, enabling you to see the lowest price possible.
2. Start racking up miles with the right credit card
Get an air miles credit card 3 – 6 months before you book your ticket. This gives you enough time to rack up enough miles for a free upgrade, discount, or a free flight. You don’t actually need to spend on travel-related purchases to start earning miles. Every time you use the credit card to pay for a meal, clothes, or groceries, you can earn anywhere from 1.1 miles to 1.4 miles for every dollar you spend. Let’s assume you spend S$1,000 locally per month for 6 months. Here’s a quick look at how many miles you can earn from the most popular air miles credit cards in Singapore:
|Citi PremierMiles Card||DBS Altitude Visa Card||Amex Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Card||ANZ Travel Visa Signature Card|
|Welcome Miles||15,000 Citi Miles* during your first use||8,000 miles**||Up to 8,000 KrisFlyer miles***||2,000 miles for the first S$500 spent|
|Miles Per S$1 Spent Locally||1.2 Citi Miles||1.2 miles||1.1 KrisFlyer miles||1.4 miles|
|Miles Per S$1 Spent Overseas||2 Citi Miles||2 miles||2 KrisFlyer miles||2.8 miles on retail spend in Australia and New Zealand|
|Miles Earned After 6 Months||7,300 Citi Miles||7,200 miles||6,600 KrisFlyer miles||8,400 miles|
|Total Miles Earned + Welcome Miles||22,500 Citi Miles||15,200 miles||14,600 KrisFlyer miles||10,400 miles|
|Redeemable For||KrisFlyer Miles|
Royal Orchid Plus
Garuda Frequent Flyer
|KrisFlyer Miles||Asia Miles|
* Apply for the credit card before 14 August 2016 to qualify.
** For new DBS/POSB card members who charge at least S$1,000 per month for the first 3 months.
*** Get 5,000 KrisFlyer miles when you first use the card, and 3,000 KrisFlyer miles when you spend S$700 in the first 6 months upon Card approval.
While it helps to look at the base miles, also consider the welcome miles offered by each air miles credit card. An extra 8,000 miles goes a long way into helping you get a flight for less.
3. Read the fine print before booking budget airlines
Everyone knows that budget airlines are a great way to save. But you can also end up spending more if you fail to read the fees and fine print. One way to overspend is by failing to book and pay for baggage in advance. Pre-purchasing check-in baggage on Scoot Air only costs as low as S$25 for 20kg. But if you buy it at the check-in counter, you pay a whopping S$100 for 20kg. Also pay attention to the weight, height, and number of bags you can check in, as budget airlines charge a hefty fee for excess weight. Tiger Air charges S$25 per excess kg – about the same cost as pre-purchased luggage! If the goal is to book the cheapest flight available, do your homework and learn about the airline’s restrictions. The extra cost of failing to meet their requirements can negate any savings you might have made.
4. Check cancellation clauses before booking a room
Before you make a booking at Airbnb or hotels, you’ll need to make a deposit using your credit card. Sometimes, the deposit is not refundable if you cancel on short notice. If the deposit is refundable, there’s a better chance you will only get part of your money back. So if you’re still waiting for confirmation from your friends, or aren’t sure about your exact travel dates, avoid making the booking. If you must book right away, check the cancellation clauses and make sure you’ll get a refund.
5. Use Dreamcheaper after you book a room
After you book a refundable hotel room, check out DreamCheaper.com. This website tracks the price of all hotel rooms. When your room price falls, it will cancel your current reservation and rebook the room at the cheaper price. The potential discount can range anywhere from $30 to $300, depending on the location and the season. Still, it does mean you can nab a discount on five-star digs.
6. Create a separate email address for airline newsletters
Mailing lists from airlines and booking sites like Skyscanner or Agoda are a treasure trove of deals. By signing up for updates, you’ll be able to access last-minute specials or discounts. Many ridiculously cheap flights are available for 24 hours, and it’s easy to miss out if you don’t let them inform you about these crazy deals. If you hate drowning in marketing emails, create a separate email address exclusively for subscribing to travel booking websites. This also makes it easier for you to spot deals. Check it twice a day as you get closer to booking your trip to grab sweet, last-minute offers.
7. If you know your travel dates, don’t wait to book your flight
The thing with these last-minute deals is that they’re difficult to predict. If you need to fly during specific dates, like long weekends in Singapore or before Christmas, book your tickets as early as possible. Rarely do flights get cheaper as your travel date approaches, especially during these peak times. Don’t waste your time and money waiting for a sale that might never come.
8. Stalk your credit card for travel discounts
If you own a credit card, chances are it offers a hotel discount, even though it’s not an air miles card. Many non-travel credit cards have partnerships with hotels or travel booking sites. For example, the UOB YOLO Card is more known for its restaurant discounts, but you can also use it to get 10% off hotels atBooking.com, or S$70 off flight and hotel packages at Expedia. Uncover these hidden deals by visiting your card provider’s rewards or promotions pages. You can also check out these credit card deals at Agoda for 2016.
SingSaver.com.sg is a financial comparison platform for credit cards and personal loans in Singapore. Subscribe to its weekly newsletter to find out how you can make personal finance decisions.