Personal Finance

Why You Need to Book Your Labor Day Flights Now

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Travelers looking to get away over Labor Day weekend still have time (but not much) to snag a deal on airfare, according to an analysis of fare trends in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Waiting until after Aug. 9 to buy plane tickets for a Labor Day trip could cost consumers up to 30% more, showed the data from airfare search engine Fly.com.

Between Aug. 1, 2013 and Aug. 22, 2013, fares jumped as much as $174, depending on the destination, a news release from Fly.com said. These figures are based on 1 million user searches conducted between July 15 and Aug. 22 last year: Destinations included Chicago; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Honolulu; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Plans included departure dates spanning Aug. 28 and Aug. 31, 2013, and return flights were scheduled between Sept. 1 and Sept. 4.

It’s common for airlines to raise prices and take advantage of last-minute bookings, and those flying this Labor Day generally have till Aug. 8 before their trip costs significantly increase, the findings indicate.

The Costs of Last-Minute Travel

A lot of people prioritize price when making flight plans, but there are other considerations when working travels into your budget. An airline may charge a low base fare, but you may have to pay extra for baggage (even carry-ons) and in-flight amenities. Make sure you check airline policies before you’re seduced by a low sticker price.

There are also often costs variations among airports and the number of stops between your departure and destination. You may prefer a certain airport or flight path, but you should also consider compromising. That goes for seating preferences, too. If you have a travel rewards credit card, you can potentially save a lot of money by booking a rewards trip, so if you have that option, give it serious thought.

Think About the Long-Term Impact

You may really want to take that long-weekend vacation, but flying for relaxation or a reunion may not be worth what the airfare does to your financial situation. It may be tempting to put an expensive trip on your credit card and deal with the cost when your bill comes, but adding hundreds (possibly thousands) of dollars to your credit card balance could hurt your credit score by increasing your credit utilization rate. You may also find yourself in a position where you can’t pay the bill in full, and you’ll end up paying much more for that holiday weekend once you tack on interest charges.

Your credit standing may determine whether you get a loan in the future, and it will also be a factor in how much you pay for credit, because your interest rate will be tied to how risky a consumer the lender sees you as. Credit card use majorly influences your credit; to see how your credit cards affect your financial future, you can check your free credit scores and other credit data using Credit.com.

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