ITA MATRIX is one of the best "free" tool available to search for the flights with variety of options. This is really useful if you are looking to fly a specific airline carrier, or you want to know which near-by airport has the cheapest available fare to your destination, or you are looking for the specific fare class which would still earn full 100% miles. Below is a sample list of things you could do using ITA MATRIX but by no means is exhaustive:
Although you can search different combination's as mentioned above the "ITA MATRIX" does not allow you to make a final purchase nor directs you to one. But most of the time knowing the fare exists would enable you to book your ticket either through OTA (Online Travel Agent) website such Expedia, Priceline or Orbitz or book through other meta search engine sites such as Skyscanner or Hipmunk. You can also book the tickets through various airlines own websites as well if you so desire. Also note that the search does not include any OTA or airline specific coupons or discounts which you could use if available.
Q: How to do a basic search with price per mile enabled?
A: To do the search with price per mile enabled you need to add "?showPricePerMile=true" at the end of webpage link of ITA MATRIX or use this link. Let's do a search for a 2 to 3 day roundtrip from SFO to MIA on any day in the month of September 2013 for Economy Cabin Class.
The result of the above search can be seen below in Fig 2. As you can see the rates are different for different dates as well as it shows if it is for 2 or 3 days turn as well. You can modify the highlighted box in "red" for search for different month or days of trip.
As you can see from Fig. 3, selecting the cheapest trip shown in Fig. 2 loads up variety of flights at different times as well as showing "price per mile" for those trips.
As mentioned this was a simple search with single source and destination. If you want to depart from either of SJC or SFO and your destination could be either of FLL or MIA, you could put that in the search box as shown in Fig. 4
For searching flights operated by only "American Airlines", you can enable "advance routing codes" field and add "AA+" or change the "Departing from" field to look like "SFO, SJC::AA+"
As you can see there are "tons" of possibility of advance code combinations you can use to make your search more specific, but remember if you put "too many generic" options the ITA MATRIX tool will simply time-out or exit with only "partial" results. So, it is prudent to make your search as specific as possible as well as having broad characteristics of details important to you. Below are some examples of advance routing codes which would be useful. We have assumed the "Departing from" to be SFO, but you have any other airport code for your search. The "two letter" code of each airline can be found here.
There are many more such codes which are useful to trim down to the flights you are looking for. more information about these can be found on the flyerguide post here. Hope this would be useful for planning your next trip with cash and knowing what were your options before making the purchase.
RAISING MILES AT WALMART
Most of you holding BlueBird Debit Card would be familiar with Walmart for loading it up. Since there is a cost associated with the purchase of Visa / MasterCard, which could range from ~$4 to $6 per card the ideal strategy is to purchase the gift cards with credit cards that earn 2x or more miles/points per $ spent. But assuming you want to accumulate miles/points on the card which only earns 1x miles/points spending $5 for a purchase of $500 gift card would entail the cost of buying miles at 1 cent/mile or point. If you are on a lookout on how to minimize this cost then there are quite a few strategies available. The most common with least hassle are using Chase Gift Cards or using Plink but they have their own limitation's. In this post I am describing yet another strategy on bringing down the cost to zero without too much of work involved.
Bring on Raise!
Raise is a website for gift card buy and sale. This site is interesting because they regularly have Walmart e-gift card for sale at 2% to 3% discount. On top of it they do provide $5 off first purchase of $125 for new customer as well as do have promotion's now and then for $5 off discounts on $75 or more. The best part is you could make a purchase through cash back site such as Topcashback which regularly offers 2% to 3% of the card value as cash back.
Let's assume the hypothetical purchase scenario where you make a purchase of $200 Walmart gift card without considering any special promotion or $5 discount. Assuming you are making a purchase at 2% discount and Topcashback provides another 2%, thus your out of pocket expense to purchase $200 Walmart gift card would be "$200 - $4 (2%) - $3.92 (2% of $196) = $192.08. Saving of $7.92.. That's not much of a saving unless you read next..
Bring on Walmart!
Walmart sells visa gift cards of $200 for $206.88 ($6.88 is the fee for $200 visa gift card). The important thing to note is currently you can use Walmart e-gift card to make the purchase of these visa gift cards. You can combine 4 such e-gift cards for single purchase. There is no shipping fee for this and the transaction would go through without any issues as you are using Walmart's currency.
Combine the above two..
So, now if you combine Raise and Walmart together you will notice that your out of pocket fee is (-$1.04) for generating 200 points/miles using a credit card which gives only 1x. You can then use your favorite BlueBird Debit card to unload the $200 Visa gift card using your favorite Walmart again and thus generate free miles/points easily.
Note: If you use the Raise or TopCashBack link above I would get a small commission which I greatly appreciate. Thanks for reading!
CAR RENTAL DEALS SEARCH SITES
Most often than not on your trip you rent a car and its good to know what all the available options are as well as which websites would fetch you the cheapest car rental cost.
To start with there are two kind of rentals you could book:
When you book the car rental using this kind of service you are typically renting through 3rd party travel agency site. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of rental:
This is how typically you would book you car rental using either 3rd party OTA websites or the car rental agency website. The only disadvantage if you might end up paying a higher price then otherwise you would pay using the "Opaque booking", but the advantages are many as listed below:
With that being said for "transparent booking", below are some of the websites which you would find useful for finding promotion / discount codes before you would go ahead and make your car rental reservation or could help you in getting the best available price for your next car rental.
Promo Codes / Discount Codes Websites:
Car Rental Booking Websites (OTA):
Below is the list of websites which generally tend to give good discounted rates for car rentals. Some of them are limited to access for "members only", but if you have access to them it would be really useful. You would want to try at-least 3 of them before concluding the best available price.
Note: None of the above links are referral links or earns me any commission. Thanks for reading!
I love traveling / backpacking. This blog focuses on below 3 aspects of travel:
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