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It may not feel like it quite yet, but summer vacations are around the corner!
Brian Kelly, CEO and founder of the Points Guy, stopped by Megyn Kelly TODAY to help navigate how to get the best savings when planning trips.
1. Keep track of your awards points
Can’t remember your frequent flyer numbers? You’re not alone. Fortunately, you can use AwardWallet to not only store all that info in one place, but to even track all your mileage balances at nearly every airline and hotel in the world. The site has both desktop and app versions and will automatically email you if you're approaching the expiration date on miles in an account so you can make sure to use them before you lose them.
2. Know when to book your trips
Airfare prices go up and down and can change in days or hours. Which is why the Hopper app is so useful. It not only searches for current airfares but it uses historical price data to predict whether the price of a flight is likely to go up or down in the near future. Search for a specific flight and the app will tell you whether to book now or wait — then if you decide to wait, the app will send you a notification if/when the price falls and Hopper believe it's a good time to buy.
3. Use the right credit cards
Not all credit cards are created equal! When saving miles lots of people assume that it makes sense to save miles with an airline specific credit card. However if you don't fly on one particular airline regularly, you may be better off getting a credit card that earns flexible bank points instead of a specific airline's miles.
Flexible points — which are issued by banks such as Chase, American Express and Citibank — can be used not only like cash to book trips directly, but can also be transferred into the frequent flyer programs of many different airlines at your discretion, giving you not just one choice for free flights, but many different options.
4. Understand how to get a hotel upgrade
As with most things in life, the simplest way to get something is to ask for it. And the earlier the better. For instance, if you're staying at a hotel to celebrate your wedding anniversary, mentioning it at the front desk when you check in and asking for a complimentary upgrade might work.
But you'll have a much better chance at success if you contact the hotel manager a week or two ahead of time by email and let him or her know you're looking forward to staying at their hotel for this special occasion and might an upgrade be available? You can usually find the hotel manager's email with a search of the hotel's website, or by just calling the hotel and asking. And if you have a special request, call the hotel directly, as opposed to the 1-800 phone number, which usually connects to the corporate office.
5. Get the best hotel room rates
Book with a hotel directly and most of the major hotels will offer a best rate guarantee. This allows travelers to compare and contrast the cost of your room almost up until your check-in date. Hotels will often even offer additional incentives, such as certificates, freebies and more for successfully completing a best rate guarantee submission. So keep an eye on the cost of your stay, even after you book
6. Sign up for hotel rewards points
It's always worth signing up, because with some chains you'll get immediate free perks, such as free in-room internet. And, if you save points, they can sometimes be used to get free upgrades after you've paid cash for the room. Also make sure to take advantage of rewards programs offered by online travel sites!