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Top 10 tips for booking cheap flights: insider tells all

We all know the basic ways to save money when traveling on business or vacation, but CheapAir.com’s CEO tells us less common tricks for booking cheap flights.

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Top 10 tips for booking cheap flights

CheapAir.com CEO, Jeff Klee has shared with AGBeat his top 10 tips for booking cheap flights, and guess what? There are some money pits many people fall for, bad times to book flights, and ways to mix and match airlines to get the best deal. Whether traveling for business or getting away from business, keep cash in your pocket with Klee’s ten tips:

1. Check Fares Early & Often

Do you know that, on average, the fare difference between the best day to buy your airline ticket and the worst is $236! And that doesn’t even include people who purchase within 7 days (who pay even more!). Airlines change fares constantly, often multiple times a week. So when it comes to buying an airline ticket, timing is everything. We recommend that you start checking fares as soon as you know you’ll be flying.

Then, check continuously, at least once a week to get a sense of what’s a good deal. And when you find a fare you like, be ready to pull the trigger since the same fare may not be around for very long. We know it sounds crazy but the airlines use very sophisticated computer systems to adjust fares literally in real-time. Buying an airline ticket really can be like playing the stock market! (Learn about why airfares fluctuate.)

2. Buy at the Right Time

Knowing when to buy your flights can be the best tip for saving some serious cash on your next trip. We did a study last year and found that for domestic flights 49 days (about 7 weeks in advance) was, on average, the optimal time to buy plane tickets. But that number can vary quite a bit depending on where and when you’re going. The most important takeaway from our study: you’ll likely pay a big premium for booking too late (within 14 days), or for booking too early (more than 5 months in advance).

Somewhere between 3 weeks and 4 months in advance is usually the sweet spot for flights within the U.S., although all bets are off if you’re traveling for a holiday or other peak time (see #4 below).

3. Some Days are Cheaper than Others

The day of the week you fly on can make a big difference in your airfare. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are generally the least expensive days for domestic flights and Friday and Sunday are the most expensive. (Monday, Thursday, and Saturday are in the middle). The difference between a Tuesday flight and a Sunday flight is $29 each way on average, or $58 round trip. If you’re traveling for the weekend, consider Saturday to Monday or Tuesday instead of Thursday or Friday to Sunday. And if you’re traveling for a full week, Tuesday to Tuesday or Wednesday to Wednesday is often your best bet.

More generally, if you’re willing to be flexible, check a bunch of alternate dates around the same time period because you never know when there might be one combination of dates that has a fare a lot lower than the dates around it.

4. Be Mindful of Seasonality & Holidays

Knowing when to go can matter just as much as when to buy. Because the most important factor that influences the price of a particular flight is how full that flight is, it makes sense that travel during Spring Break, Thanksgiving, or Christmas time would be more expensive than normal. Similarly, some destinations, especially international ones, are very seasonal in nature so research the low and peak seasons for the places you’re interested in visiting.

If you’re going to Europe, for example, you can find some amazing deals during the February and March low season, but if you want to go during the summer, you’ll pay up to double the price. If you do need to travel to popular places at popular times, you usually want to book earlier than you otherwise would since discount seats are likely to sell out quickly.

5. Mix and Match Airlines to get the Cheapest Flights

CheapAir.com features a “Mix & Match” category that essentially lets you combine two one way fares that may or may not be on the same airline, to form a round trip. “Mix & Match” options come in handy when either (1) the best possible fare for an itinerary requires travel on one airline going out and another airline coming back; or (2) the airline with the most convenient outbound flight doesn’t have a convenient return flight or vice versa.

6. Sign Up for Airfare Alerts and Track Routes

To help keep an eye on fare trends, sign up for CheapAir FareTracker [or other tracking] alerts. You’ll get notified more quickly when a sale starts and get a head start when only a limited number of seats are available. Acting quickly when a fare sale starts can save you a lot of money.

7. Prepare for Extra Bag Fees

Different airlines have different policies on baggage. Most charge for checked bags and some even charge for carry-on. You should factor that into your purchase decision. CheapAir makes that easy: when you see a list of flight options on our site, just hover over any of them with your mouse and you will see, among other things, the amount that airline charges for bags.

With some airlines it’s also important that, once you buy your ticket, you pay for your bags ahead of time by going to the airline website because they may charge a premium if you wait until you get to the airport. Read more about airline baggage fees and what to know before you fly.

8. Check Alternate Airports

If there is more than one airport near your origin or destination city, check them both. The more options you have in terms of airports and travel dates, the more likely you will find what may be one of the last discount seats to where you are going. CheapAir automatically checks some nearby airports for you (San Francisco and Oakland; Miami and Ft. Lauderdale; New York and Newark; Washington, DC and Baltimore), but if you are willing to use other alternates, you should check those, too, by doing separate searches.

9. Break up Families or Groups into Separate Purchases

This one sounds counter-intuitive – the more people that go, the better the rate should be, right? That’s rarely true with the airlines; “group discounts” are few and far between. Because airlines will typically limit the number of seats per flight they sell at their lowest rate, sometimes you can actually price yourself right out of a good deal simply by having too many passengers.

If, for instance, Airline X has two seats remaining on a flight at $100 and a bunch of other seats available for $150, if you do a search for a group of 4, the price that will come back will be $150. But if you search for two seats at a time you can buy two for $100 and only have to pay the extra $50 for the second two. How do you know when to do this? Always search first for your whole group at once to make sure that the flight has enough seats to accommodate everyone.

Then try the same search for a smaller group. If the price comes out lower for the smaller group, buy the seats for the smaller group, and then do a subsequent search for the rest of your party. It can be a lot of work but, hey, if it saves money…

10. Buy on a Site that Offers Price Drop Payback

OK, this is a somewhat shameless plug, but we think it’s justified. CheapAir’s unique Price Drop Payback program is as simple as this: if the price for the same itinerary goes down any time before your trip, we’ll pay you back the difference in the form of a travel voucher for up to $100 per ticket! We are proud to be the only U.S. travel site that offers this buyer protection and we hope this program will arm you with buying confidence.

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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Business Finance

Under-representation of women in fintech: Let’s talk about it

(BUSINESS FINANCE) Representation of women in fintech remains scarce despite a prevalent population of interest. Why is this the case, and what can we do about it?

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Woman reading a document in front of her computer, one of the women in fintech.

Women are 50% of the population – so why are there only 9 of us on the 2020 Forbes Fintech 50?

I’m personally shocked by how underrepresented women are in such a lucrative industry. By 2022, it’s predicted that fintech, or financial tech, will be worth $26.5 trillion, and we cannot afford to miss out.

And I’m serious when I say fintech is truly taking over. This includes payment processing, online and mobile banking, person-to-person payments (think Venmo or Cash App), financial software, to name a few. For some perspective, half of consumers use digital banking services as the primary way to manage their money. That’s a big deal.

So why does it matter that women are drastically underrepresented in leading roles at these companies?

  • Women CEOs receive only 2.7% of all VC funding – that is astonishingly low, considering that the remaining 97.3% is secured by their male counterparts.
  • While a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review on leadership skills found that women scored higher than men in 17 out of 19 categories (I could’ve told you that), women founders make up only 17% of fintech companies. Some of the categories tested on were:
    • Bold leadership
    • Taking initiative
    • Resilience
    • High integrity & honesty
    • Collaboration and teamwork (this is a big one!)
    • Inspiring & motivating others

If you’re a woman interested in business, tech, or entrepreneurship looking to break into the big leagues, here’s some exclusive advice from lady CEOs, founders, and COOs:

  • Stay Passionate
    Suneera Madhani, Founder + CEO of Fattmerchant, says: “…remember why you started and hold that close to your heart when times get tough.”
  • Be Open to Learning
    “Never behave as the smartest person in the room because you may miss some of the best ideas.” Says Snejina, Co-founder + CEO of Insurify.
  • Trust Your Intuition
    As the Founder + CEO of Tala, Shivani Siroya urges us to: “Stay excited, focused on results and be incredibly optimist. It’s okay to really believe in your gut – just make sure that you see the results with it.”

2021 is a new year full of opportunity – even though the odds are (and always have been) stacked against us, let’s have this be the year where women techies and business owners capitalize on their leadership skills. We have lost time – and profit – to account for.

Author’s Note: Thank you to CreditRepair for the linked infographic!

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Business Finance

TikTok users are making bank by copying Congress peoples’ investments

(FINANCE) TikTok, the short-form video platform, has users trading stocks tips. The newest strategy: following Congress peoples’ stock moves.

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TikTok isn’t just for funny dances, crude jokes, and kids born after the year 2000 (but crazy to think, they aren’t kids anymore, they could be 21…time flies). The short-form video platform that soared to be the #1 most downloaded app during the pandemic is giving tips to youngsters and millennials for their finances. The newest strategy: following and copying Congress’ stock moves.

This is in part to the not-so-surprising news of insider trading among politicians and the ability to duplicate trades of another user on platforms such as Iris, whose website says…

“Invest together with your family, friends, and brilliant people all over the world. Get real-time notifications when others make trades and copy their moves.”

Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul, are the prime examples of government traders (or traitors, you decide) to watch. For example, Paul made $5.3 million through call options to buy 4,000 shares of Alphabet before the House Judiciary Committee voted on antitrust regulations. He also exercised $1.95 million worth of Microsoft stock just 2 weeks prior to the company’s awarded contract worth $22 billion for the use of their VR headsets in military training. Lastly, before President Joe Biden announced another incentive program for EV manufacturers, he also paid Tesla stock options for $1 million.

Nancy Pelosi at the podium.

Christopher Johns, the cofounder of Iris, said that every trade “inevitably turned out to be such a long-term winner.” Wonder how that’s possible (eye roll). He adds, “if they’re the ones passing the laws, it’s probably smart to keep up and see what they’re buying.”

And yes, their stock picks are considered public trading activity and this is perfectly legal. Trading is no longer a lone man in a dark room behind 3 large computer screens of graphs or Jim Cramer screaming in the background- it’s a full-on social activity, just like everything else nowadays.

There is a whole community behind these meme cryptos, penny stocks, and short squeezes. You’ll find them on r/wallstreetbets, Elon Musk’s Twitter, Facebook groups, and of course, trading TikTok, all contributing to the “Eat the Rich” scheme of Gamestop/AMC, the elaborate rise and fall of Dogecoin, and the now trending, 2nd dog-specific coin, Shiba Inu.

Laugh all you want, but these kids are working smarter, not harder, and even outsmarting the best in the league, by following the best in the league.

AMC, Gamestop, and Dogecoin.

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Business Finance

Mastercard partners with Bakkt to offer crypto services to its vast network

(FINANCE) The thousands of banks and millions of merchants on the Mastercard network could soon integrate cryptocurrency in their products and purchases

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Man holding Mastercard

Mastercard has announced a partnership set to change the financial industry forever.

The major payments network is teaming up with Bakkt, a crypto-focused firm spun off of Intercontinental Exchange, that would be the provider of custodial services for users that sign up. This means that the thousands of banks and millions of merchants on Mastercard’s network could soon integrate cryptocurrency in their products and purchases. Bitcoin wallets, cards that earn rewards in crypto, and loyalty programs like airline travel or hotel points that convert to bitcoin would be included. The benefit is that the rewards or points in the form of crypto will allow users to earn a yield. Bakkt CEO Gavin Michael said in an interview,

“It’s an easy way to get going because you’re not using cash, you’re putting something that’s an idle asset sitting on your balance sheet, and we’re allowing you to put it to work.”

cryptocurrency

With Mastercard being a dominant force in the global payments industry alongside Visa, and 2.8 billion Mastercards in use, the announcement could bring a noteworthy expansion to how Americans interact with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Sherri Haymond, the executive vice president of digital partnerships says,

“Our partners, be they banks, fintechs, or merchants, can offer their customer the ability to buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrency through an integration with the Bakkt platform.”

The development of crypto, and bitcoin in particular, has dramatically increased in just the last year. Bitcoin has reached the record price of $60k this month and U.S. regulators have now allowed bitcoin-linked ETFs.

In a U.S. Consumer Crypto survey by Bakkt consisting of 2,000 consumers, 48% said that they purchased some form of crypto in the first half of 2021. 32% that had not yet purchased crypto reported that they were heavily interested in purchasing by EOY.

According to the Mastercard New Payments Index, 77% of millennials stated their interest in learning more about crypto while 75% said that they would put it to use if they could understand it better.

“We want to offer all of our partners the ability to more easily add crypto services to whatever it is they’re doing.”

Cryptocurrency on top of US dollar.

And just announced, due to the popularity and interest in cryptocurrencies in the Asia Pacific, consumers and businesses there will have the ability to apply for crypto-linked Mastercard credit, debit, or prepaid cards allowing them to convert their crypto into traditional currency to use globally. Mastercard is partnering with Amber Group, Bitkub in Thailand, and CoinJar in Australia to offer this service. Be on the lookout for the rollout of these services in the States soon!

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