There never seems to be a shortage of travel information available online, but not all online resources are created equal. We ran through a list of our favorites last year.
It’s always important to stay up to date on your favorite websites, but there are some notable new entrants (and their namesake evolutions) that deserve attention, too.
Priceline.com founder Jay Walker has a new venture that is turning heads, especially within the small business community. Not all of us have access to travel powered by a large corporation (and its ability to secure negotiated discounts), and when we fly, we look for the cheapest option. We might make sacrifices to travel with airlines or hotel companies that are not our favorites.
The upside at Upside.com is that the website wants to reward you for making those sacrifices. While your preferred option might be to travel with a legacy airline for upgrade potential and stay at your favorite hotel brand to score a free breakfast, these may not be the cheapest for you. Upside offers you alternative hotel and airline packages that will save you money but also award you with gift cards to dozens of shopping partners. This helps travelers to save their company (or their clients) money while pocketing the difference as a bonus for forgoing their preferred schedule.
The website is especially hot right now for the numerous promotions that provide bonus gift card credits for booking one of its packages. Rest assured, you still earn the standard frequent flier miles with your preferred program, but hoteliers will nix your point earnings for the extra savings.
Upside is able to offer special discounts thanks to partnerships with certain airlines like American and JetBlue. This site could be a lucrative way to score extra savings, often in the form of gift cards, for trips that you would otherwise book elsewhere.
2. MileagePlus X
While you might have followed our advice to do your shopping through online portals, you may have missed this very lucrative bonus offer. United’s MileagePlus program has an app that basically offers a double bonus for using it. After downloading the app, you can search for your favorite online shopping location and buy gift cards (or online codes) to use elsewhere (even outside the United MileagePlus shopping portal). The app gives you plenty of bonus miles for using it and an extra bonus if you have a United-branded Chase Visa card.
Finally, someone has put the award search engine at our fingertips, and for a cheaper price than most others! While there are many services that provide the ability to search for award tickets for a fee, AwardEx combines a strong search engine with cheaply priced search credits (as low as 15 cents each for the first three months). This means that instead of fooling around with buggy airline websites or paying for a more expensive award booking service, travelers can take the process into their own hands.
The site is still in development, which explains its strange URL, but it is a very legitimate and useful award search engine.
There are free credits available to new members, and each award search uses an individual credit—so be careful not to make a mistake. But the engine is powerful and includes everything from airline partners to hotel and credit card transfer partners. This means that you can discover helpful options that would not normally appear online or in a conversation with typically poorly informed phone agents.
For example, a search between two cities may only reveal certain airline partners online, but AwardEx will explain how to transfer points from credit card or hotel partners to another airline to score the free ticket. There really is nothing else out there like this site. Its only downfall is that it does not include American and British Airways search engines at the moment, meaning some options may be omitted (but it’s in the works).
>>Next: 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Airports
Ramsey Qubein Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist covering hotels, cruises, airlines, and loyalty programs from around the globe.