Building up from our popular How to Hack Shopping on Amazon from Singapore, we are sharing another top hack on Singaporean’s favorite activity – travel. Plane tickets can be cheaper depending where you buy them, or even better, where you appear to buy them from. This strategy is a game on paying with foreign currencies to your advantage. You can make serious savings on the cost of plane tickets. By using a “fake” location, you will pay much less.
Where will I save the most?
All depends on the airline. For example paying in Norwegian kroner, Chilean Pesos or Brazilian Reais. In Southeast Asia, paying in millions of Rupiah is much much cheaper than paying in Singapore dollars.
Do I have to fly to those countries to save?
No! The key is to pay the national currency of whichever the airline is based. Flying to the airline’s country of origin will have even greater savings.
Does this work for every country?
Nope, only some. Countries with currency pegged to US dollar would not save anything.
Step By Step to Hacking
Step 1: Search for your flight
No special actions required, just go to your favorite online booking site and search for travel dates.
Step 2: Check for comparable fare for the flight on a national/local airline
When you find a nice flight say from Singapore to Japan, don’t stop there. Taking the easier way out will not help – so the key here is to see if there’s a similar flight on Japan Air or another foreign-based carrier. Write down the info and flight times, and open up a new browser to check for it. For example googling Japan Airline will give you the local airline website and using the info you copied, search for it.
Step 3: Change country of origin to airline’s base on site
Now some websites will request for your country which you’re searching from, and others would ask you to select from a drop-down menu at the top of your page. Switch that to the airline’s country of origin. Don’t panic! Languages will change but trust that airport codes and dates are universal. If you didn’t know yet, Google Chrome offers free translation for the page.
Step 4: Search your itinerary and convert the price to dollars
On the local site, find the desired flight in terms of time and info and note the cost in that currency. Next determine if the local currency is cheaper than the one you originally found on your favorite search site like Kayak, Expedia etc.
Here are some examples:
Using Kayak and Booked a Cheaper Flight by Jose Casanova
How I Hacked the Airlines and Booked Cheaper Flights by Johnny Africa
Use a Fake Location to Get Cheaper Plane Tickets by Map Happy
Step 5: Check the T&C
IMPORTANT: Some airlines know this hack and only allow you to pay in their country’s currency with credit cards in that country. It is not a common policy per se but might take you by surprise. If this happens: ABORT MISSION. Or just wire your buddy in that local currency and use his.
Step 6: Book the tix!
Congrats, you’re ALL SET and arbitraged your way to a cheaper air ticket
Fraud Prevention Prevention
Your card company might stop the transaction from going through and flag it as high risk – why the hell would you pay in a foreign currency all of a sudden? But fret not, we are working on this to allow you to pay for your flight tickets using your local currency at the Google exchange rate once again. Otherwise a phone call with the issuing bank will clear things up – just make sure you call before you do the charge and get pre-approval on it.
Dynamic Currency Conversion
Dynamic currency conversion is really a scam. Check this longstanding advice from Nick Ewen. Always say no when any vendor ask if you want to do it.
Airlines have the right to allow “mistaken” fares to be cancelled and reimbursed to traveler, on top of non-refundable expenses made on the basis for the canceled ticket. This is unlikely, but it is a risk to take note of.
Install/setting up a VPN
Although this isn’t necessary, some customers have reported that there is a need to use proxy server or VPN to make this work. The site will have a tracking in place to determine your actual location – read more on our extension VPN guide here to easily install one.
For hotels, the same concept applies. Hotel rooms can be cheaper depending on where you appear to buy them from and by “hacking” the system and paying in a different currency, you can make huge savings on the cost of accommodation. Aside from this, hotel booking websites are notorious for hidden fees and extra charges so we’ll have to be extra careful before booking our dream hotel stay!
Step by Step – Money Saving Hacks
Step 1: Book Early
It’s always good to book in advance, especially in case the hotel runs out of the room you want, or gets completely booked out! But the best part is that hotels tend to have lower prices when you book in advance, and these discounts can easily hit 10% or more. It’s also good to book early in case something comes up and you have to cancel, because hotels usually have a 7-30 day cancellation policy!
Examples of Early Bird Offers:
Step 2: Become a member
Simply by just becoming a free member on hotel websites, you’ll be able to get room rate discounts of up to 10% (or even more if you’re lucky!). In the case that you’re buying from a third party seller, (Hotels.com, Expedia, Agoda), they have a whole list of promotions as well. Check out this whole list of promotions that gives you up to 50% off on your hotel bookings!
Step 3: Sign up for the Hotel’s mailing list
There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to hear about the offers before everyone else. This is one way the hotel can directly contact you and tell you about all the goodies they’re offering, or maybe an upcoming sale that they might be having!
Step 4: Watch out for Resort Fees
Heard of these before? Not common here in Singapore, but rampant in other places, especially in Vegas, the Caribbean, Florida and Hawaii. These hidden fees can cost you up to 50% of your entire stay. Be sure to check if the hotel charges extra for these resort fees – which usually include things like “complimentary” water, use of hotel amenities like the pool, tennis courts, etc. If you’re not sure if the hotel charges resort fees, check out this website and type in the name of your hotel to find out. The easiest way is still to give the hotel a call to make sure you don’t end up with a bill that’s bigger than you expect.
Step 5: Be wary of Overseas Processing Fees
In this case, we don’t mean currency conversion fees! Be super careful about these because this will be charged to your card EVEN if you pay in SGD on the site itself. I was just about to check out on Expedia when I scrolled to the bottom of the page and it stated that the payment would be processed in Spain. Although this doesn’t change the price you have to pay for the hotel itself, it does mean that your bank will charge you extra for an overseas transaction. The typical rate ranges from 0.8% to 1% depending on the card you’re holding.
Step 6: Get the Lowest Currency Conversion Fee
Before you click proceed at the checkout page, take a look at all the credit cards in your wallet… It’s very likely that one could give you a better fee than the other! For your hotel booking convenience, we’ve compiled a list right here just for you! p.s. It’s better to pay for your overseas online purchases with a credit card instead of a debit card since many banks charge extra (about 0.25%) when you’re using a debit card!
Step 7: Book your hotel!
Now that you’re all ready to save all your hard-earned money, let’s book away!
But right before that, as thanks for being such awesome and wonderful people, RateX is offering a super duper special offer just for you. RateX is offering a whopping 2.8% UNCAPPED promotion on ALLLLLLL hotels from Hotels.com to celebrate our Hotels launch! Now what are you waiting for? It’s time to get ready for your next holiday 🎉
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