Here’s a tip that will almost always help you save money when booking international flights. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars on international flights just by using this simple technique:
Book your international flights on an airline’s local country website.
As you probably know, most international carriers have localized websites for each country. For example, United has a separate website for passengers purchasing tickets in the UK, France, Japan, and many other countries. These sites are localized, and pricing will vary between them depending on exchange rates.
However, due to currency fluctuation, airfare pricing will never be exactly the same on each localized site – and that’s where you can leverage currency arbitrage to get a better deal. Instead of booking your ticket in USD, it’s often much cheaper to purchase it through the local website of your international carrier, particularly if the exchange rate is favorable. So, how can you do the same? Read on below for a quick and easy 5-step rundown!
Step 1: Price out your ticket in USD
Go to your airline’s international website (it’s almost always in English) and price out your ticket in USD. For this example, I’m going to book a ticket on Norwegian Air from New York to Stockholm in mid-September.
Step 2: Visit the airline’s local site.
Instead of going to the airline’s international site, this time go to their local site. Since we’re flying on Norwegian, I’ll simply select “Norway” as the country of origin here. This will take me to Norwegian’s localized site for the Norway market. All tickets on this site will be priced in Norwegian krone.
Step 3: Search for your desired flights
Next, enter the same exact flights into the local site, and search for the dates of your choice. If you have any issues reading the local site’s language, simply use Google Translate to assist.
Step 4: Convert the airfare to US dollars.
Price out your flights on the airline’s local website, and take note of the airfare price in local currency. Again, use Google Translate if you have any issues reading the page. In this case, our flight from New York to Stockholm rings up at 2,118 NOK.
Next, convert the local website’s ticket price to USD. You can easily search this through Google, as I did below. Use a query similar to this to convert based on the latest exchange rate.
Step 5: Compare prices in US dollars, and book away!
As you can see above, the ticket above priced out at 2,118 NOK, or $267 USD on Norwegian’s local site. On Norwegian’s international website, however, that same ticket prices out at $317 USD.
The result? Booking on Norwegian’s local website will save us $50 on a one-way ticket, or $100 on a round-trip ticket! That’s a 16% savings off of the original airfare. Not bad for 5 minutes of extra work, right? This simple trick works on airlines around the world, but make sure to check that the exchange rate is favorable before booking in local currency.
Note: Check with your credit card provider before you book to ensure that your card is cleared to conduct transactions from the country of your choice – I’ve been tripped up by fraud warnings on my card in the past when I’ve tried to make sizable ticket prices in countries like Russia or Japan.