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- All non-essential travel doesn’t make sense right now, but airlines and hotels still accept reservations for the future – often at very discounted prices.
- If you are considering making a travel booking for several months, consider still using a refundable ticket and bookings made with points or miles so that the risk of losing money is reduced if your plan needs to be canceled.
- You should also prioritize having an emergency savings fund rather than book a vacation in the future.
- If you are in good financial condition, you can open a new gift credit card now and get a welcome bonus so that you have a savings of points ready to use when you are ready to travel.
- See Business Insider’s list of the best travel gift credit cards.
As a result of coronavirus, our lives become very small in scope. If you don’t have to cancel an upcoming trip, at least the current situation may have delayed your vacation plans. But while the world mostly lives at home today, travel brands continue to sell flights and hotel rooms for future dates, and prices can be very low.
With airlines and hotels offering cheap fares and carriers like JetBlue that allow you to book until January 2021, you might be wondering if it’s worth jumping into one of the current travel deals to book a vacation in the future. If you are considering pulling a trigger with cheap flights or hotel rooms now for future travel dates, this is what you need to know.
If you book a trip, be prepared to cancel or reschedule
Booking a trip for early fall may seem like a safe bet now, but no one knows when life will return to normal. With this uncertainty, you must treat any travel reservations that you make at any time subject to change.
Check the changes and cancellation policy before ordering
Many travel brands have released customer-friendly changes and cancellation policies. For example, American Airlines will waive change fees for travel until 31 May 2020, and that will waive the change fees for trips booked on 30 April 2020.
Hotels generally let you cancel a few days before check-in without a penalty, but make sure to do it double check property policy before you make a reservation.
Stay on a refundable reservation
Zach Honig, Editor at The Points Guy’s Large travel website, recommends avoiding non-refundable tickets and hotel stays. “Personally, I do not buy non-refundable trips at this time, although I have booked several award flights that I hope I will take, because I have found business class availability to be exceptional, for travel later this year,” he told People in business.
Tickets that can be cashed back and stay at hotels are often more expensive than non-refundable tickets, which brings us to the next point …
Booking with points or miles can save you a headache (and money)
While most travel brands have adjusted their cancellation policies for paid bookings, if you have points or miles, consider booking a speculative flight or a fixed hotel in return for you.
It is usually easier to cancel an award ticket than it is to order cash, and Honig notes that United waive the award redeposit fee for the remainder of 2020 as long as you cancel more than 30 days before departure. If you want to order through another airline program, check to see if they also offer award redeposit fee waivers.
Consider buying travel insurance
If you can’t stop yourself from pulling the trigger when you order expensive trips for the future, buying additional travel insurance can be a smart idea. Whereas travel rewards such as credit cards Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and Platinum Card® from American Express offers strong travel coverage, incl travel cancellations and disruption insurance, their scope limits the reasons you can cancel and receive a full refund.
Focus on your emergency fund first
While the urge to book a trip is understandable given that we are all cooped up at home, it is wise to balance those who wander with the need for financial security.
“Given the many uncertainties we face today, my advice as a financial planner is to focus on what you can control,” said Eric Roberge, CFP and founder Beyond Your Hammock. “Right now, it has to do with your savings, expenses and investment contribution.”
“My priority before spending on travel is to protect me emergency fund (even if it’s ‘full,’ having a little cash now only adds to security and stability), maintaining or even increasing my investment contribution, and doing what I can to support others in my local community who might be struggling, “Roberge continues .
That’s not to say you can’t book future trips and save money, but it’s hard to overestimate the importance of being financially prepared for unforeseen circumstances during this uncertain time – especially because jobless claims skyrocketing.
If you have travel points, like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards, remember that you can redeem them for cashback. This will not give you maximum value in many cases, but if you are short of cash, this is an option to build your emergency fund.
You can still work towards the next award trip
You don’t have to stop dreaming about exotic vacations, even if you finally decide to postpone booking a trip in the future for now.
In fact, this is the right time to start earning points and miles so you will be ready to leave whenever we return to normal. Register to get an award credit card like Preferred Chase Sapphire and Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and getting their welcome bonus will put you in the right position to book an award trip in the future.
Consider the cards that produce points that can be transferred (such as Amex, Chase, or Citi, or Capital One miles points) compared to those who get prizes with flight or hotel programs, so you are not locked in only one option to redeem them. And remember that many cards offer bonus gifts for such purchases online shopping, food delivery, and food material.
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