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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