How to Get Travel Discounts on Stuff You've Already Booked
Travel booking is a complex game. You spend hours researching and monitoring various websites to get the best deals on flights, hotel reservations, and rental cars. If the price drops after all your hard work, you can feel like all your effort has been wasted.
Fortunately, there are several tools you can now use to protect yourself from price fluctuations. These tools monitor prices, so you can take advantage of any price drops that happen — even after you've made a booking. (See also: Secrets of Last Minute Travel)
With Yapta, all you have to do is enter your flight details into the system. This website then tracks the price of your flight and sends you a notification if it drops. You'll have to claim the refund from the party who sold you the airfare, so it will make your life easier if you booked directly with the airline.
Your experience of Yapta will depend a lot on which airline you booked because each airline has a different set of re-booking rules. Yapta works with several airlines: Alaska, JetBlue, AirTran, Virgin America, Hawaiian, American, Delta, United, and U.S. Airways. While Alaska and JetBlue will provide full refunds, other airlines charge re-booking fees. All airlines give these refunds in the form of vouchers or credits for future travel.
You can choose to get Yapta alerts by email, through its Internet browser add-on, via Twitter messages, or through its iPhone app. No matter which option you choose, this service is free.
If you make an airfare booking through CheapAir, you can take advantage of its Price Drop Payback feature, which gives you CheapAir credits of up to $100 per ticket if the price goes down. This free price drop protection applies to all airfares booked through the website, but you'll have to do a bit of work to get the refunds.
CheapAir will not send you any alert, so you'll have to check the website from time to time after booking the flight. You can sign in at any time before your flight to quickly check the prices on the website. If the airfare has dropped, you can claim the travel credit. But you'll have to be careful; you can only get the Price Drop Payback credit once, even if the price goes down multiple times.
3. TripIt Pro
TripIt Pro is not just a price drop alert tool; it's a travel organizer with many other features. It manages all your travel bookings, including flights, hotels, car rentals, and many more. You can integrate it with your email accounts to save all booking confirmations in one place. You can even link it to your social media accounts to quickly share your itinerary with your friends.
This smartphone app has a flight refund feature that tracks price fluctuations and lets you know if you can claim refunds. TripIt Pro takes into account the airline's re-booking fees, so you'll know exactly how much you can save. You'll have to contact the airline, the booking website, or the travel agent to claim the refunds, however.
Besides flight prices, TripIt Pro also tracks seat availability, air miles, delays, and cancellations.
TripIt Pro works on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7 smartphones. It costs $49 a year, but you can try if for free for 30 days. As the website says, "a single flight refund can more than pay for the price of TripIt Pro."
When you book a hotel room through Tingo, the website continues to monitor the hotel rates up until 24 hours before your check-in date. If the price drops, Tingo will re-book your room at the lower price. Every time this happens, you'll get an email with your new booking details.
You won't have to do anything or pay any re-booking fees. There's no limit on the refund amount, either. The cash refund will be credited into your credit card after you check out.
Just be careful when you make the booking. Tingo only offers the price drop protection for refundable hotel bookings. The website does sell some non-refundable hotel rooms, so read the listings closely and stick with those explicitly marked "Price Drop Refunds."
You can use the price tracking feature on AutoSlash for free even if you booked your car rental elsewhere.
In fact, it may even be better if you booked it elsewhere. Many car rental companies don't like that AutoSlash is lowering their profits, so now the website can't display these companies in its search results. In other words, there are few choices available when you initially search for car rentals on AutoSlash. But that doesn't matter much because AutoSlash works hard after you've made the reservation. (See also: Save on Your Next Car Rental Without Even Trying Hard)
Regardless of where you book, AutoSlash tracks your booking and monitors your options. If AutoSlash can find a cheaper option, it will re-book you at the lower price, applying any relevant coupons and discount codes. AutoSlash continues to do this as many times as it can to lower your rental rates.
There are no refunds involved with AutoSlash because you'll only pay for the rental when you pick up the car.
Have you taken advantage of these or any other price monitoring services? Please share in comments.