Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
After some early dire predictions about the cost of holiday travel this year, it turns out we’re down to just six days that are likely to be surcharged by the airlines. I want to let you know the days you absolutely have to avoid flying this year.
Travel pundits have been predicting that airlines would be charging a zillion bucks this year for holiday travel because the nation’s full-fare airlines have parked so many planes in the desert. (Discount airlines, on the other hand, have kept their capacity pretty much level.)
But BestFares.com reports the most expensive days to fly this holiday season — and the only ones you should really be sure to plan around — will be Nov. 27 and 28; Dec. 22, 23 and 26; and Jan. 2.
Of course, it goes without saying that the more flexibility you have with your travel dates, the better you will do any time of year. When you’re searching for fares this Christmas, use the Kayak.com feature that allows you to select “+/- 3 days” (click the link that says, “My dates are flexible”) to find out how flexing your dates can save you money. It can make a big difference.
Meanwhile, are you looking for the best travel reward cards? A recent NextAdvisor study crunched the numbers to determine cards offering the best dollar value per point or mile. Their research puts the Starwood Preferred American Express card — with a payback of over two cents for every dollar charged — at the top of the heap.
Other contenders included Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards card (1.7 cents) and the United MileagePlus (1.1 cents).
I should note that in other studies I’ve read, the Capital One Venture Rewards card is routinely named as the most generous card out there in the travel sphere, bar none.
-by Clark Howard, Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs
Find more answers to your consumer questions, plus Clark’s new book “Living Large in Lean Times,” at ClarkHoward.com. Listen to his radio show live 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday on WSB 750 AM and 95.5 FM.