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I've never been much of a penny pincher. Even in the days I was forced to pinch pennies, I didn't like doing it, and dreamed of the time when I no longer need to watch every penny.
Recently, though, I've become more interested in how to save money on travel. I love to travel, and, even though I'm willing to pay $50 to $100 more for a flight that leaves at a more convenient time, I recognize that I can do a lot more travel if I make it a point to save money.
I still don't go out of my way to pinch every penny when I travel, but I do have a few strategies that allow me to save money on travel:
Credit Card Rewards
I'm always revamping my credit card rewards strategy. For the most part, I put most of my purchases on rewards cards, and then pay off what I've spent that month when the statement comes. The result is that I add up credit card rewards for things I normally buy. Gas, groceries, utilities, and other items are all paid for with credit cards.
Thanks to credit card rewards, I've managed free airfare on numerous occasions. Not only that, but some of my cards offer extra points when I spend in certain categories, so it pays to make sure I line up my spending with the card I'm using.
For the most part, the cards I use most often are tied to airline miles, although I do have a card for online purchases connected to Upromise, which has been providing a couple hundred dollars each year to augment my son's 529. I've actually received more value from airline miles cards than I have from cash back cards, once I consider bonus earnings.
Another trick I use is to sometimes buy one-way tickets on different airlines. If I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel with airline miles in one program, I can just get a one-way reward ticket, and book my return flight with a reward ticket from another program.
Other Loyalty Programs
Another way I save money on travel is through loyalty programs. I have belong to a Marriott reward program, which is where we stay most often, as well as a Choice Hotel program, for those times when Marriott just isn't an option. We regularly earn free hotel stays, and that makes a nice change, especially if we are traveling for long periods of time.
I double up on my hotel rewards, though, because I'm part of the Orbucks program with Orbitz. I often book my hotel stays through Orbitz, and use my rewards program card number. That way, I earn rewards on Orbitz for my booking, and I still get the rewards for staying at a Marriott hotel. With the Orbucks, you can also get a discount on hotel bookings, and they apply each night you stay. Last year, when my son and I were on Spring Break, we used Orbitz to get about $15 off each night's stay. Not only that, but this rewards discount was taken?after I had used a 20 percent off code. If you can double up on rewards programs like this, it's well worth it.
I also find that there's almost always a rental car discount involved somewhere as well. Many of my credit cards offer discounts, or you might be able to get discounts and earn points with partners of other programs. I don't actually have to be a member of a loyalty program with a rental car company in order to get discounts; I just?book with whichever company is offering a discount associated with one of my other loyalty programs.
Save Money on Travel by Making it Tax Deductible
Finally, I like to save money on travel by making it tax deductible. Since my business revolves around blogging, I travel to conferences and do other business travel on a regular basis. This is a great way to save money on travel. You can get your other discounts in, and then at tax time you can reduce your liability. You just have to make sure that you follow the rules so that it really does count as business travel.
When it comes to saving, I don't go out of my way to nickel and dime my savings. However, I do like to get some very basic discounts. It's not worth it to me to nitpick, but I do like to grab low-hanging fruit when I can. Often, low-hanging fruit is more than enough to provide you with substantial savings, without putting in a lot of time and effort.
From travel to taxes to just about anything else, the low-hanging fruit offers some of the best ROI. And, speaking of low-hanging fruit, now is your chance to win, from TaxAct. Enter the contest below, and don't forget that there are plenty of ways you can save in your everyday life.