Practical Travel Hacking 101.5

What exactly is travel hacking? My interpretation is the entire process of how to fly to your destination using the least amount possible of your hard earned cash. Many people have read or even heard about travel hacking before but still never get started. In this guide, I cover all of the practical methods and resources to do this. So no excuse not to go out and do this too! (If you have any questions, just email me or comment below!) Whats most important is to go out and do it instead of sit here and read!travel hacking 101Travel Hacking 101 Flow Diagram!

Planning Your Trip

Don’t know where to start? First part of any planning process for travel hacking is determining where you want to go (if your hardcore where you will stay as well). No matter what project you have the scope of the project needs to be determined or else you don’t know what direction to go in. For this part of travel hacking the most important piece is determining where you are going because different airlines have different major hubs and alliances at different parts of the world. In summary, most people will be able to book the major flights through alliances but most of the point earning will be stacked onto on one airline.  Here is the planning process to get started:

  1. Determine where you want to go first! – most important and also the easiest step!
  2. Research on average the amount of costs for that trip with flight aggregators. Enter the details you need on google ita matrix first (you can’t buy flights from the matrix) then check out momondo.com, skyscanner.com, kayak.com, and priceline.com
  3. Keep track of the average cost for the trip from all of these websites.
  4. Research the main airline at the destination hub. Use this hub to determine which alliance the airline is on or if the airline doesn’t have one (find the individual airlines partners)
  5. Research if any of the airlines in the alliance offers the flights and the average points needed!
  6. Set up a price alert and points alert for the designated flight.
  7. Determine which credit cards or signup bonuses that you would need to require to get those points.
  8. Research credit card bonus terms – especially if the bonus applies if you have had the credit card in the past versus multiple credit cards from the vendor.
  9. Keep track of the date that you applied for the credit card as this the date that minimum spending starts counting for the credit card.
  10. Determine your minimum or spending strategy to get the points required. (check out Manufactured Spending) if you are out of ways to spend money.

Now go book that awesome flight for just points and taxes plus fuel money!

  1. Determining your final Destination!

Picking a place to go is determined by two factors when travel hacking. Either you need to determine if there is a small airport hub where you can get an easy connecting flight or if there are some major airlines that go to the main airport where it would be easy to spend the points! Also if you need to go to a more remote destination usually it is cheaper to book a flight to the major airport with points and the smaller airport with actual money. Each destination offers its own unique flight path combination of points and flights! So be wary of this when you determine where you are going! This also applies for multi destination flights!

*Tip* If you have great flexibility try to book flights on a Tuesday – Thursday leave time they usually are cheaper!trip finder on momondo Momondo search chart to find cheapest destinations at any time of the year!

  1. Using Flight Aggregators to your advantage!

*Tip* Turn your Browser into Incognito Mode before you start looking for flights, the internet always knows!

Not all flight aggregators are created equal and not all of them even have close to the same amount of airlines as each other. For example, Expedia is one of the worst if not less deal driven than the rest of the flight aggregators that I have listed in step 2. The process here is to go to Matrix ITA and use the planner to first gauge at what time of the month and with which airlines the flights will be cheapest with. If you don’t know how to use google ITA matrix, you can check out the most common commands that I use further down in this post! After that search through at least 3 or 4 of the flight aggregators I listed above and 75% of the time I find even a cheaper flight than listed on the ITA matrix. (have a flight aggregator you love using? Comment below or email me and I will evaluate it too!)

*Tip* Use google ita matrix to look at airports nearby the departing and arriving to see if there are cheaper combinations!

looking for nearby airports Using ITA MAtrix to look at nearby destinations!

  1. Keep track of Price Changes!

In this step just keep track of the prices and if you are okay with some extra emails sign up for price alerts. Not all flight aggregators offer this so I want you to keep track of the different prices from each site in a spreadsheet. If your looking at the flights a few months away! It is good to consistently check the prices of the flight over time! If there is a price drop there could be a corresponding points/rewards  drop at least in those flights as well! Also this brings in a good habit of consistently checking your flight average costs!

  1. Checking your destination’s airport main airlines!

Some of the biggest airlines don’t fly to every airport in the world and most don’t offer points/rewards for their flights to those airports! But fear not, the rewards programs at most of these airlines have alliances and partners that do fly and you will be able to book flights through them. The key thing here is making sure you don’t try to find a credit card for cathay pacific or for airfrance miles just because the destination only houses that major hub! This will ruin every person’s credit card strategy unless you are an extremely big spender which if you are, you probably have other problems or you are way too rich! Make sure in this step to note down the alliance that the major airline is in and note down if there are any geographical airlines in that region who can usually do those flights for cheaper!

  1. Time to determine the amount of miles/points needed!

This is probably one of the most crucial steps required in this process. If you haven’t already, sign up for at least 15 different airline reward programs and at least 5 airlines in each different alliance! Go through multiple reward programs (at least 4) and check how many points/rewards will be needed for you to fly to the destination. Be wary of high season vs. low season for a lot of the bigger airlines as this drastically changes the amount of rewards needed. Also make sure to check the rewards program of the main airline flying out of your departing airport. Write down in the same spreadsheet on average the amount of points needed from the different reward programs to get to your final destination!

airline points research Looking at my flight with Singapore Airline miles!

  1. Make sure you have your alerts set up to notify you of the best types of deals!

If you haven’t done this already! Setup price alerts so you know when the price drops so that there could be a corresponding points drop! I have seen this a few times which could mean you could book your trip extremely quickly if you were already part way into your points acquiring strategy! This is such a good tip to get your dream travel flight as soon as possible.

skyscanner price alerts Setting up price alerts on Skyscanner!

  1. Determining which credit card program/bonus is right!

There is kind of an art to doing this the right way when you first start but no worries, its quite easy for the beginner as well! First piece is knowing where you want to get your points! That’s what the previous 2 steps were doing, by now you should know if you need points on either airline branded rewards or on bank specific rewards. As a beginner I would recommend getting a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi Bank Rewards Card as bank rewards are easily transferred to certain airlines. Once you pick a bank card, make sure you understand which airlines those the bank rewards can transfer too and then find an airline branded credit card to develop your ability to stack those points! The key step is figuring out which cards earnings you can stack together to make your miles worth more on a certain airline!

*Tip* Don’t cancel a bank rewards credit card program without transferring the points first as you will lose all of these points!

  1. Research Credit Card terms and bonuses before handing in your application!

If you’re a few years into travel hacking you probably have to pay attention to these terms more than most others as you could lose out on the sign up bonuses. If you are a beginner most likely you will be applying for your first rewards travel card! The key is to make sure you check how the bonus sign up offers are earned on the card! There are categories that could earn you double or might not count toward the minimum spend goal. There are endless possibilities of other terms & benefits that each credit card can offer so make sure you look at them before applying and make sure you qualify for that sign-up bonus!

*Tip* Never Have I Ever Seen An Annual Fee Count Towards The Minimum Spend!

credit card offer details Look carefully for every cards offer details!

  1. Note down the date you applied for your travel credit cards!

Most of the time the duration to meet minimum spend starts the day you get approved for the card not the day you receive the card. This is important so you can either determine the spending schedule to meet minimums on every card before the deadline is over! When you are juggling multiple cards this is extremely important as you have a time frame to meet this spending requirement and you need to know where to put your manufactured spends! In addition, one great thing to note is that once your minimum spending requirements are met the signup bonuses are added in right after the next billing cycle on your card

*Tip* Once your minimum spend is met, call your credit card company and change the billing cycle date to as soon as possible to receive your points even faster!

  1. Determine your spending strategy to get the points for that dream trip!

This is the part that gets most people! Most people come to me and go “Andy! There is no way I can spend this much money!” and the thing is you don’t have to! There are lots of ways to meet minimum spends with your friends or even with your parents! You use your credit card to pay for taxes, monthly bills, rent, and shopping in general. If you run out of things to spend on then get a few of your friends and try out some manufactured spending (link here)! Regardless there are always ways to meet the minimum spend! Make sure to check out my guide to spending here!

At first this may seem like a lot of work to get a free flight but trust me when I say that once you do this process once, each time it becomes quicker and quicker. You will have certain websites bookmarked and you automatically know which rewards programs you will need ahead of time to make your flights! But make sure on your first time you work through this entire process and get used to doing the research in the right places as this will save you a lot of time in the future. The initial learning curve is definitely high but once you are over the hump it’s a breeze!

Credit Card Strategy and Points Strategy!

After you get your first flight you must be thinking that you can just slack off and get a credit card next time you want to travel again! NO! (well you can do this but I don’t recommend it). If money is going to be spent anyways you might as well figure out where your rewards are going to be maximized. Therefore in this next section I will explain the rules and the basic knowledge you need to know about credit cards!

A Lower Credit Score! (Bullshit)lots of credit cards

Based on the feedback I got from my Facebook questions almost 90% of people always ask me doesn’t this hurt your credit score? And everything I tell you is based on my personal experience alone, but it only results in temporary dips but overall my credit score has increased over the last 3 years.

You can find what factors your credit score are based on but the breakdown is new credit (10%), payment history (35%), credit mix in use (10%), length of credit history (15%), and total credit use (30%). The two most important parts of your credit score are payment history and total credit use! Payment history is usually perfect if you have never missed or had a late payment. IF YOU HAVE EVER MISSED A PAYMENT OR LATE ON A PAYMENT STOP READING THIS POST AND GO TO THIS BUDGETING POST! The second biggest part is where having lots of credit card actually helps! Total credit use lowers your score if more of your available credit is being used i.e. a high credit utilization rate. For example, if you have two credit cards that have a total available credit of 10,000$ and you spend 3000$ a month then your credit utilization is 30%. Assume you get another 5 credit cards over the year then your total available credit is 100,000$ and you still spend 3000$ a month. Your credit utilization is now 3% which helps your credit score immensely! Well you might ask what about length of credit history and new credit, and yes these 2 factors will lower your score but not in proportion to how much the credit utilization rate will help your score!

 Credit Sesame Score as of December 2016 – doing perfectly well after a year of 15 credit cards in the last year!

 Credit Karma Scores – My score is still doing well despite also canceling 10 credit cards over the last year!

Also based on my personal experience these dips due to new credit are only temporary and bounce back between 2-3 months!  Here are a few more tips that I use on the daily:

  1. My momma taught me this one, but anytime you want to cancel a card due to an annual fee (my parents would never pay them) you can actually switch the card to a no fee card! Call the credit issuer and ask them is this is an option! This helps the length of credit aspect in your credit score!
  2. Don’t apply for a bunch of credit cards before you are trying to get a mortgage, car loan, business loan, or any type of big loan. I once was trying to get a refinance for my house and had just applied for 4 credit cards 2 months before inquiring and was questioned non-stop if I was running some kind of scheme. If you have one of these coming up soon, just get the big loan first and then back to credit cards!
  3. Don’t ever miss a payment – the whole point of travel hacking is to use credit cards as an asset and not as a liability to you. Just like when people tell me buying a house is big risk, its only a calculated risk if you don’t do your homework, make sure you do your homework and don’t let credit cards become a risk for you. If you think it is, get off this page and don’t ever think about travel hacking again.

 

Rewards Program Transfer Power & Limitations!

The reason you decide on different credit cards for your flight is because many rewards aren’t transferable! I have never seen an offer where you could transfer airline miles from one airline to another airline. Even transferring miles from one reward number to another number in the same airline costs a ridiculous amount of money! Bank reward points come in handy here as many of them transfer 1:1 to the airlines in the participating programs so this is where stacking comes in handy! You can use one bank reward card and one airline card to stack them efficiently to get a first class international flight easily.

One key thing here that is easily overlooked is moving hotel points to airline miles! These transfers usually cost anywhere between 2x and 10x the hotel points for a single mile! This is usually not worth it but you can use this if you really need it!

starwood program transfer chart Looking at the transfer partners of Starpoints program!

Losing your credit card points!

I once lost a forgivable amount (but I was still angry) of reward points because I closed one of the credit cards without paying attention to the rules of the program. Therefore I read through all of the programs and this is the only piece you need to know. Airline and Hotel Points stay with you after the credit card has been closed. This means that if you already earned your 30,000 miles for American Airlines through a branded credit card you can cancel the credit card and still retain your miles for that specific AAdvantage rewards number. However, bank rewards cards are lost depending on the terms! For example if you only have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and you cancel the card, all of your Ultimate rewards points are lost! However if you have both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve and only cancel only one of these cards then your points are still retained in the Ultimate Rewards Programs! Make sure to read the terms yourself in each of these programs. I remember reading in the Citi Rewards program that only some points on certain cards can be used for airline transfers 1 v 1.

How Do You Actually Maximize Your Points Earning Strategy?

There are two ways to essentially maximize your points earning strategy! There is normal everyday spending and there is manufactured spending. There are hundreds of ways to do this but I will tell you my top techniques for spending in each of these 2 categories!

Normal Spending

  1. Online Shopping Portals – This is one of the first major ways and still probably one of the best ways I do spending today! Online shopping portals from are essentially just a precursor for shopping for anything? Do you want to buy something from Target? Go and check out Chases Online Shopping portal and you could earn a certain amount of miles for shopping at Target through their link! What does this mean? Why earn 100 points/100$ when you shop online for Target when you could earn 200 points/100$ by clicking an extra link in the reward portal? I use sites Cashbackmonitor.com mainly to find my deals! Taking a quick look at Sephora (enter Sephora into the search section of Cashbackmonitor) at the time of this writing, you can use 5 points/$ for Ultimate Rewards and Amex Plenti while earning 4 miles/$ for United Mileage Plus, British Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and AAdvantage program!

cashback monitor sephora

  1. Example: AAadvantage program is one of the biggest reward programs in the US. You use the rewards program to buy 200$ of merchandise for yourself and earn 800 points. Well that’s not a lot, why not buy four more 200$ gift cards for your friends to Sephora and earn 4000 points? Ends up your friends don’t need gift cards? Then liquidate the gift cards by reselling them for 95% of the value (760$) and you just earned 4000 points for 240$. Next level? Just buy some gift cards and resell them and you could make 4000 points for 50$. See where I am going with this? Don’t know where to liquidate gift cards? No worries just sell them on giftcardgranny.com, cardpool.com, and raise.com.

*Tip* – go and see how many gift cards for a particular brand are selling and make sure there isn’t an overstock. I.E. if you see 500 sephora gift cards for on cardpool.com its highly unlikely that your gift card will be sold anytime soon!

cardpool sephora results

Lots of Giftcards for Sephora being sold at Cardpool!

  1. Categorical spending! Many cards offer different point rewards for different categories of spend. You might have seen this before an advertisement saying “get 2X points for travel”! That’s a category! Different cards offer different levels of rewards but my most used categories were groceries, dining, and office supplies!
    1. Groceries – sometimes there are quarterly bonuses or general bonuses on groceries? Does that mean I buy 1500$ worth of cereal in one month? OF COURSE WHO DOESN’T LOVE LUCKY CHARMS. Just kidding, you can buy a bunch of gift cards for use for other areas including Olive Garden credit, World of Warcraft Play Credit, or Sears Gift Card! Buy some groceries for your friends too and have them pay you back! The key thing is your buying these items at a grocery store so they qualify for bonuses! Chase Freedom Terms with quarterly spending bonuses! Use them to your advantage!
    2. Dining – Who doesn’t eat out? Dining is probably the easiest place to earn miles as some cards offer permanent bonuses on enjoying a meal at your favorite restaurant! I’ve had my Chase Sapphire Preferred as it offers 2X points on all dining and 3X on one of the Fridays of the month!
    3. Office Supplies – Does this even make sense? Well when the point bonus is 5X per dollar spent on the Chase Ink card then it probably is! Am I buying enough paper and pencils to last me a life time? I haven’t even bought one instead, I go buy gift cards for random items just like the grocery store. Just imagine if you buy 2000$ in value every month, that’s 10,000 points every month. Can’t get rid of your cards? No worries just sell them at the same websites above.

 

  1. Add Authorized Users to help you spend the amount that you need? Are you the head of a household or the primary money manager in your household then heed no further you can add users like your children to help pay for some of their expenses! Are you a student, maybe ask your parents to help put some of their expenses on your credit card if they haven’t already! Always ask around and see if you can do some shopping for everybody!
  2. Dining Rewards Programs – This one is super easy, just sign up your most used cards for a multiple of dining programs. When you dine at any of the selected restaurants in that selected program you automatically earn points in that program. I’ve earned points just dining at random places from meetups! AAdvantage dining program application- add your most used credit card to a bunch of dining reward programs!

Manufactured Spending? What exactly is it?manufactured spending daigram

Manufactured spend is when you need to meet certain types of spending requirements either to get a credit card bonus miles sign up bonus or maximize a shopping portal reward miles. What does that really mean? It means you need to spend money on your credit card without actually spending the exact amount of money. Some people have touted this as shady but this process is completely legal but sometimes hard to understand. So you’ve now you’ve got a new credit card and a minimum spending requirement! (Don’t know what I am talking about? Read up Here) Now go out there and spend that 3000$! Just kidding! First off is to alert your friends and prep an excel worksheet if you are using multiple credit cards. If you’re a beginner, I suggest starting off with one credit card and learning which methods work best for you (location dependent as well). When you have multiple credit cards, tracking and accounting is important to make sure you don’t get into debt.

Tracking Spreadsheet

I have uploaded a template of my tracking spreadsheet for keeping track of my spend and credit cards that I have! Download and use it for yourself! The most important tabs are the “Credit Cards” and “Meet Minimum Spending” because the amount of tracking that I used when I was doing some manufactured spend. Make sure always to note down the dates you closed or downgraded a card! I even put a small credit utilization calculator so that you know when your hitting high percentages!

Cards and Miles – template

Disclaimer: Sheet is used at your own risk, I am not responsible for any repercussions of anyone using this sheet!

Methods of Manufactured Spend

Now to the meat of the subject! Here are the ways that I have done this in the past (while travelling I don’t do this). Keep in mind that this works best with a friend.

  1. Venmo – Usually I will Venmo a friend a random amount and have that friend return the money to me in some other form. Venmo allows for you to send money to anyone else on the app through your credit card which incurs a 3% fee. For example if you send 1000$ then you incur a 30$ fee but it looks like you spent 1000$. The friend that receives the money returns the money to me either in check or through a different platform that is not Venmo! Venmo fee’s with creidit card are only 3%!
  2. Paypal – The same concept for Venmo can be applied to Paypal as well. Just make sure to keep sending random amounts at a random scheduling! Paypal can actually be sent to anyone with an email address. Paypal fees for only 2.9%!
  3. Facebook, Google, and Amazon Payments – I haven’t experimented with these platforms as much lately but the concept is the same. Just make sure to use one platform for the money out transactions and then a different platform for the money in transaction.
  4. Amazon Merchandise – I have done this a few times in the past but essentially you can buy some merchandise on Amazon and resell it at the same price to make money. Keep in mind that you can also lose money if your merchandise doesn’t sell. I would recommend to do this in small quantities. Essentially you can look at the amazon seller rank of the item and make sure its decently low (1-2000) to make sure the items does sell per month. Also using JungleScout and Keepa you can determine if an item can sell at the price it sells. Keep in mind Amazon payments are every 2 weeks so don’t expect your money right away.
  5. Ebay – The concept is the same as Amazon merchandise here. You can use eBay as a great platform to resell your items to make the money back on your card. (fees can be high here, calculate your $/point cost before trying this method)
  6. Gift Card Exchange – This method has been used for a very long time now but is considered dead. Unfortunately there are other ways to liquidate your gift cards if necessary but the good old fashioned prepaid cards are gone. I still recommend using American Express serve for a prepaid card but to watch the amounts you use it for. With this method, you essentially buy specific types of gift cards (make sure to check that your prepaid card accepts those type of gift cards) and transfer the money from the gift card to the prepaid card. Usually there is a 1% fee during the transfer of the gift card amount. Once the money is loaded onto the prepaid card, the cards usually come with the ability to bill pay a credit card. The last step is to pay the credit card (the one you bought gift cards with) off with the prepay account and voila! Type of gift cards that I used for prepaid card loading! Metabank Visa’s with PIN’s! This still works on my American Express Serve Card!
  7. Money Orders – Walmart’s and some other locations still allow you to turn gift cards (research which types) into money orders that you can take and deposit back into your bank account. Just make sure to stick to a very small amount as money orders can triggers suspicious activities at your local branch. All banks in the US are required to fill out suspicious activity forms if they normal transfers of money orders into your account.
  8. Fantasy Sports Leagues – There are loads of these sports sites online which allow you to play online daily! With these websites you can load your account with your credit card (fee free) and then cash out into a bank account. This is a long term strategy, because you will get banned or it will look weird if you just put money into the account and take it out. My strategy with Draftkings (the only place I did it in) was to put some in! Play some 1$-5$ games for a week (minimizing loss) and try to earn some of the sign up bonus! Then let me money sit for 2-3 months and then withdraw the amount to my bank account! Keep in mind you must be able to float money for a few months and don’t get addicted to playing the fantasy sports!

Now you are a manufactured spend expert (sigh not really)! This is just the beginning, I would recommend you research each of the methods more distinctly before you get started and get comfortable with one method before moving onto the others. If you do this wrong you can land yourself in a lot of financial stress. But if you do this right, the results can be amazing. Essentially you can manufacture spend 3000$ for about 90$ in actual spend. That might get you a 50,000 point bonus that could get you award flights up to 300-600$ (if you are a point maximizer – then combine and mabye 10,000$ flights). 50,000 points could get you almost 2 domestic flights and one international flight in the US. And that is the beauty of manufactured spend.

How should you spend your points?

Before getting into the main reason of spending points, the most important thing is that points matter differently to every person. If you value a certain flight because you can see your girlfriend more often, then that is your strategy for getting points. I always valued my points based on numbers (cause I’m an engineer) so I tend to look at how much money it took to get those points (cents/miles) and how much money of a flight I can exchange it for (dollars/point). This would always tend to get me towards international and first class flights being the best exchange (why you would ever pay 13,000$ for a ticket befuddles me). For every person different points hold different values. I.E. I value my Chase and Starwood points immensely because they have such good transfer options and values. If you’re a frequent flier or elite status at AAdvantage then you might value those miles more! The point is every person values something different in their points so make sure you know what matters most to you!

But given that there are some tips and tricks to think about before spending your points!

*Tip* If you’re spending more than 1.5 cents/points or miles earned you probably aren’t getting a good deal.

Distance Based vs. Regional Based Points (Based in the US)

Most of you probably have seen this to a certain degree but you ever notice that with some airlines, it cost the same amount of points to fly to anywhere in a certain region? If you are taking short distance flights that probably isn’t the best value for your hard earned points! My original airport hub was Atlanta, GA which is home to Delta, but every time my momma was looking for flights to most regions with Delta the cost was always 25,000 points! At this point in time I was flying Southwest between LA and SF for 12,000 points both ways? This is when we finally realized how unequal different frequent flyer programs are. My advice, if the airline uses regional based points then save those for something bigger, and use distance based airlines for those shorter flights. Take a look at the difference between Delta’s Old Award Chart (not available online anymore) and American Airlines Award Chart Below. 25,000 for any zone flight vs. 15,000 depending on your destination under 500 miles!

International Flights

This is quite a complex subject because there are so many different ways to book international flights. The key here is to stay flexible in your destination location! There are so many different ways to get to a location for example it could be cheaper to fly to a smaller airport near your destination and use budget airlines in the region to get to your final destination! Another example is that there could be 2 stop overs that could make you spend 40% less points to your final destination! No matter how you get there, the one thing I always recommend and that is CALL the airline (yes people still do that). Flight callers can usually find a better and sometimes a CHEAPER route to your final destination that you can’t find online! Also they could know how award seats are released and be able to see them before you do! Calling is the best way to save points and maximize value on international and complicated flights. The value is even better if you plan an around the world trip!

 Looking at Ethiad award chart for miles! This way you can determine how many miles you need on a partner airline to book these flights!

Advanced Travel Hacking

Mileage runs – this is essentially purchasing flights for a $/mile(point) earned that would be less than what you could spend your rewards on. If you have a 9-5 job why would you spend your weekend flying around randomly? Go get hammered with your friends or hike a mountain! If you are really into this – check out this resource on flyertalk! (I have never done it!)

Business Cards Vs. Personal Cards – Make use of Business credit cards as well! You don’t even need a business to apply for one, you can still use your name and social security number. Many people always do a random side job on the side which is perfectly legitimate reason to get a business card! Many of these cards can offer immense sign up bonuses in addition to bigger spending perks!

Additional Tips to Getting The Cheapest Flight without Points!

If you don’t have enough reward points or you must buy a flight with money! Here are some of my  recommended tips for looking for the cheapest flight!

  1. Turn our browser into incognito mode! No matter if you have cookies or not the flight aggregators and airline sites always know when someone is looking! Better they know its not the same person looking multiple times.
  2. Look for flights more than 2 months ahead of time! Once the 2 months range for the departing date is reached its very hard for the price to keep going down (only happened to me once)
  3. Use a proxy to specify a 3rd world country of origin for your IP address! Essentially this is telling a flight website you are in Thailand (just an example) versus the USA. This will load websites in their native language so just use google translate to find your flight. Many times the flights will be cheaper in their local currency after you convert it to US dollars. ( you can use a no foreign transaction fee charge credit card to book)
  4. If you are doing a city far away, sometimes it cheaper to fly with a connection rather than directly to a city. When you are using flight aggregators make sure to filter these out and compare the prices!
  5. Buying two one way flights can be cheaper than 1 roundtrip flight if the timing is right! This especially works well if you need to fly somewhere on the weekday and fly back on the weekend or vice versa! Roundtrip prices almost get jacked up for weekend flights!