7. Check out airline credit cards

  • If you are loyal to a specific carrier that's big at your preferred airport, it might make financial sense to carry an airline-branded Visa or MasterCard, says frequent-flier expert Jay Sorensen, president of Wisconsin-based IdeaWorksCompany. You may get a bonus of 50,000 miles plus benefits such as free checked bags, priority boarding and free foreign currency conversion — but you may have to spend a certain amount to get those bonuses.
  • Also consider cards that give you miles for every dollar spent and will allow you to choose from a longer list of airlines.
  • Remember: Cards that dole out miles typically come with annual fees, so they may not be worth the cost for infrequent fliers.

8. See if one-way tickets pay off

  •  Buying a one-way ticket used to be pricey until low-fare carriers began offering them at affordable prices. Other airlines followed suit. One-ways may work well for multicity trips.
  • Airfarewatchdog's Hobica uses a personal example: He wanted to fly from Los Angeles to New York to Sarasota, Fla. and then back to Los Angeles, with stopovers in New York and Florida. One airline wanted $2,100 for that itinerary. Hobica did his homework and found one-way tickets on various airlines for a total of $550.

    See also: Share your travel saving tips

9. Consider air and hotel packages

  •  If you're not wedded to a specific hotel, bundling airfare with lodging can save a bundle. In some cases, Hobica says, it's even cheaper to buy the package and not stay at the hotel.

10. Use frequent-flier miles wisely

  • If you are lucky to have amassed a stash of miles, trade them for trips carefully. Seaney says the ideal time to use your miles is when a ticket costs $450 or more. (Hobica says more than $500.)
  • Miles are lifesavers when you must fly unexpectedly — such as to a funeral or when you're not sure of a return date. Last-minute fares can cost $1,000 or more round trip.
  • Consider using miles to upgrade to business or first class on long transcontinental or international flights, where comfort is an issue.

Whatever you do, don't let miles expire. You usually can keep them by buying something as small as a magazine subscription via the airline-sponsored. 

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