Save Money on Business Travel*
If you are not loyal to a particular airline use a search engine
If you are flexible with work travel (fares are often lower if you travel early in the morning, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or even Saturdays, though you have to factor in hotel and meal costs with the latter) you can save hundreds of dollars on airfare by doing a flexible date airfare search on Google Flights or Kayak.
Once you find some inexpensive flights that fit your budget, call the person you’re meeting to suggest a time that fits your cheapest flight dates. If that doesn’t work, try the second best.
- Loyalty Lobby
- 10X Travel
- Thrillist: How To Haggle When You’re Shopping Abroad — or Anywhere, Really
- The Points Guy
* WorkAnswers and Scherzer International are not responsible for changes to the external content
Travel With Carry-On Only
Skip the checked baggage to avoid charges. Most airlines will allow you to carry-on a roller board up to 22 by 14 by 9 inches, and a “personal item” (briefcase, large purse, laptop). You can even take an “additional approved item” (jacket, umbrella, or food).
Sign-up for a credit card with your preferred airline and get a free checked bag
Most airlines allow you to avoid baggage charges for you and often feel travelers on the same reservation. Both 10XTravel and The Points Guy maintain a running list of the best offers*. You can also earn miles for air travel (Earn 2-3 miles for every dollar spent with the airline depending on the card as well as 1-3 miles per dollar spent on non-airline purchases.)
Earn status with your preferred airline
Most airlines wave baggage fees for their elite travelers so once you fly 25,000 miles you will earn Silver on Delta or Gold status on American Airlines. United requires you to spend at least $4,000 and fly 12 segments or spend $5,000 with no minimum number of segments. With this level of status your first bag is free as well as at least 4 people on your reservation (higher status levels will allow for up to 8 fellow travelers). The higher your status, the better your benefits. Here is a rundown of the benefits with different status levels from The Points Guy*.
If your travel plans allow for it, you might want to look at alternatives that such as Alaska, Hawaiian, JetBlue, or Southwest. Other carriers such as Spirit, Allegiant and Sun Country don’t target business travelers and are advised to avoid them for business travel.
Check Airline Websites
Search engines are a great place to start your search, but you may not see all the available tickets. For example, none of Frontier’s, Southwest’s, or Sun Country’s flights show up on third party (also called OTA or online travel agent) sites. Other airlines may not have all of their flights listed in these outside booking systems.
In addition, if there is a problem with your flight due to weather or maintenance its easier for the airline to change the reservation if it was purchased on their own system (the same is true for hotel rooms)
Flights are often less expensive on the airlines’ own websites. Start with the search engines and then visit the individual airline’s site.
Points Credit Cards
Some credit cards such as American Express Membership Rewards and Capital One’s Venture card allow you to use points for travel. These are different than loyal points/miles since they often have an assigned value of 1 point per dollar spent (though there are often bonus with spend a certain places such as gas stations, certain retailers and restaurants) A rule of thumb is 10,000 points equals US $100 in free travel.
Both 10XTravel and The Points Guy maintain a running list of the best offers*.
Use a shopping portal to earn miles
The Points Guy maintains a page on how to maximize the use of shopping portals (yes, you can earn airlines miles from shopping online). These shopping portals allow you to earn bonus miles, points, or cash back at hundreds of online retailers such as Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s and even hotel chains such as Marriott and IHG by starting at the portal and then clicking through to the retailer’s site (rather than starting at the merchant directly).
You still purchase the same items directly from the merchant, but because you started at the shopping portal, you’ll also earn airlines miles that can post in a few days to a week. The bonus only applies to the subtotal of your purchase (excluding taxes, reward program points, and shipping fees).
Use Off-Site Parking
If you plan to drive your own car to the airport check one of the remote discount airport parking sites or even an airport hotel which might add 7 or 14 days of free parking for a nominal fee with a “stay park fly package” (These rooms are usually a different room rate so be sure to check the rate when you book a hotel room). Be sure to budget for additional time to allow for riding parking shuttles hotels and to check “airport shuttle” when booking a room.
Try Booking “Vacation” Packages
Most airlines offer you an option of packaging your rental car, hotel, and airfare into a single package, similar to a vacation package . See what they have to offer. Then check for car rentals separately to see if you can save by bundling or if you’ll be better off paying for your plane tickets and car rental separately.
Use a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft
Ride-sharing services are often less expensive than traditional taxis plus they can save you money on gas, parking, and the time spent refilling and returning a rental car.
Lyft will let you earn 1-2 miles per US Dollar on Delta. While Uber has a rewards program.
Use the Right Credit Card to Rent a Car
If you have a credit card that provides rental car insurance, use it to pay for your rental. Then decline the collision damage waiver coverage offered by the rental car company. This can save you an average of $20 per day.
Don’t Prepay for Rental Car Gas
Car rental companies typically offer three choices when returning their car. Return it with the gas tank full, pay an outrageous price-per-gallon to fill (anywhere from USD $5.99-9.99/gallon) it when you return, or prepay for a full tank and don’t worry about it. But unless you push the car back onto the lot with an empty tank, or risk missing your flight, you lose money with the prepaid option. It’s best to just fill the tank shortly before you return the car.
Book a Hotel That Provides an Airport Shuttle
You can easily spend USD $30 or more on a taxi ride from some airports to a city-center hotel. Use either a ride sharing app (such as Uber or Lyft) or TaxiFareFinder.com to check rates for your destination. If possible, find a hotel that offers a free shuttle to and from the airport. It’s worth paying $20 more for a room if you save two $30 taxi fares.
Ways to Save Money on Hotels
Join a Hotel Loyalty Program
It’s best to book directly with the hotel chain (Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Choice, Hyatt etc…). Members of hotel loyalty programs often provide free WiFi and allow you to earn points for free stays at a later time not to mention lower rates, plus you will most likely score a better room and possibly an upgrade (it never hurts to ask). To maximize your earning potential, sign up for a hotel credit card and use your time away from home for something fun.
Sign Up With AAA/CAA or your country’s respective auto association
The cost of a AAA membership varies around the country, but is typically under USD $80 for the basic plan. In addition to roadside assistance the AAA card gets you other travel-related discounts, including 10 percent off at many hotels.
Take Advantage of the Hotel Breakfast
If your hotel offers a full breakfast or even a Continental Breakfast of just bagels, coffee, and orange juice as part of your room charge, eat enough so you can have a lighter or later lunch. In fact, take this benefit into account when choosing a hotel. If the prices are about the same, the one with breakfast can easily save you $10 to $20.
Make Lunch Your Primary Meal
Most restaurants charge less for lunch than dinner so make lunch your main meal of the day. Eat later and with enough food you might get by with a snack for dinner.
Check Restaurant Prices Online
If you are going to be paying for a business meal with others, check out menus online before choosing a restaurant. That way, you can find the most affordable place that meets your requirements. Most restaurants now have full menus posted online with prices.
Stay at Extended Stay Hotels
Extended Stay hotels such as Residence Inn by Marriott, TownePlace Suites by Marriott, Homewood Suites by Hilton and Home2Suites by Hilton, IHG has Candlewood Suites allow you to prepare meals (often with a stocked full kitchen) in your hotel room.
Many hotels offer an in-room microwave and refrigerator to let you at least heat up supermarket prepared meals. Even if you only use the in room refrigerator for sodas, snacks, and tea or coffee the savings will add up.
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