Lots of good things are happening these days: hotels are modernizing, airfare prices are dropping, and the cabins you experience above the clouds are more luxurious than ever. That special vacation is more within your reach than it’s ever been, but that still doesn’t make paying for it any more fun.
Even if you’ve got plenty of dough in hand, it can actually make serious sense to take advantage of a holiday booking strategy which allows you to pay over time, without interest, not just for how effect it has on your wallet, but for a few hidden benefits too. Here’s the full story…
It’s true, airlines are desperate not just to sell you your flight, but your hotel, or car rental too. They want to be your one stop shop, so to entice business, airlines offer “low deposit” bookings if – and only if – you add a car rental or hotel to the flights.
In many cases, you can pay over time without any interest, as you like – and you actually should. That does not ever mean carrying a balance on your credit card – this is totally different. Keep reading.
Quite a few other airlines including Delta and American offer something similar, but those require a credit check or verification through a third party finance company, whereas British Airways Holidays and Virgin Holidays simply allow you to pay a deposit, and demand that the remaining balance be paid by a certain date in the future. It goes like this…
- find trip, select flights, select car rental or hotel.
- pay low deposit to secure booking with airline.
- you then can pay the rest of the balance as you wish, spread things out.
The other airlines are still great options, just more faff with the forms and credit checks.
The money part isn’t all that hard to figure out, and that’ll be discussed shortly, but it’s the hidden benefits and flexibility that make travel package deals seriously clever. Think of it like a small investment in a trip you may or may not take. In short: you don’t lose everything if you have to bail.
With deposits as low as $300 for a holiday, and most around the $600 mark, even for multi $1000 trips in business class and five star hotels, you’re almost effectively creating yourself a flexible travel booking, even though it’s not technically flexible.
In other words, if you need to bail, you’ve only shelled out a few hundred on the deposit, rather than stuck with completely inflexible airline tickets which would leave you out thousands, had you just booked flights alone. It’s a compelling hook.
You can even remove a passenger, if someone else has to bail.
Example: two discount business class tickets from New York to London may cost $1300 each, but the key is that they are not flexible. You either can’t change dates, or the price to do so would make them triple. If you can’t use them as intended, you’re eating at least $2600.
But if you booked them while adding a hotel or car rental via one of these holiday packages, with just a $300 deposit, you’d give yourself weeks, even months more flexibility until you need to cough up the rest, with only a penalty of forfeiting the deposit, should you need to bail.
Obviously, you don’t want to bail – but “it happens” as Forrest Gump once said.
This is a bit nerdy for some, but if you’ve ever been convinced that the browser or airline is messing with you when the price jumps, that’s a myth. It’s just that even in one cabin, there are often 10 fare classes which decide the price, and each has limits to how many are sold.
With many airlines, holiday packages are able to tap into low fares which might not appear for flight only bookings, particularly for last minute trips. It’s not at all uncommon to see $500 all in trips with flights and three nights hotel, on the same dates when flights alone would be $900 per person at the last minute.
The best advice here is that if you ever find yourself facing horribly expensive flights, look at one of the package booking sites like Expedia, or an airline which offers them to see if prices change.
Even if you’re rolling in dough, shelling out thousands on a single booking can make a heavier dent than you’d usually put into any of your metal rewards credit cards. These plans allow you to pay monthly, or in the case of Virgin Atlantic or British Airways, as much as you want whenever you want, up to five weeks before the booking.
You could throw a bit on one card to help trigger a spending bonus, throw a bit on another, wait for a payday, etc – the only rule is that it’s all square by the date they give you, which will be weeks before the trip.
In most cases with airlines – and all cases with BA or Virgin – there’s no penalty if you cancel, you just lose whatever the minimum deposit was.
It’s never, ever advisable to book things you can’t pay for, and you should never ever carry credit card debt or interest, and in a way – these make that easier, since you aren’t absorbing a massive purchase overnight. Even a $5000 trip can be booked $100 at a time…