Today I’m not talking about miles or points, but instead a new way to find the cheapest flights to book with cash. A savvy miles ninja knows when to use miles versus when to pull out the dollar bills, after all.
Until September 2, look out for this little symbol in the search results of Google Flights:
It means that Google predicts this flight is priced as low as it will go, and if you book it and the price drops more than $5, they will refund you the difference up to $500. Google continues to check up until your departure date whether or not the price drops. Any price difference is based on base fare, taxes, and mandatory airport and airline fees. If you paid to check bags or for any other ancillary fee, those costs are not considered.
The only stipulations are that the price drop must be greater than $5, and the maximum possible refunded amount is $500 total (across however many flights you book with Price Drop Guarantee) during the testing period. The test ends September 2, 2019.
What Google is Up to
It’s long been my advice to those asking how to find the cheapest cash flights possible to use Google’s price tracker. The idea is to toggle on the price tracker of flight you’re eyeing via Google Flights, watch the price trend by checking out the nifty little graph Google makes over time, and then buy on a dip. This strategy is only successful, however, if you start tracking your flight with plenty of anticipation.
Then Google took it a step further and started doing some of the legwork for us. Under the cheapest flight options listed at the top of a Google Flights search result, you’ll often see a graph displaying whether the current price is particularly high, low, or average.
Price Drop Guarantee is Google applying their data to entice you to book on their platform. They’re using the data they’ve collected to guarantee–on specific flights–that the price is as low as it’s going to go. For this reason you won’t find the Price Drop Guarantee symbol on every flight, only the ones they’ve deemed low-risk enough that they won’t have to pay out much. That should be reassuring to you as the customer that you are indeed booking the cheapest flight possible. And to top it off, just in case the price does drop, you get your money back.
My guess is that we’ll see this feature return to stay. It’s a smart application of data that entices bookings on their end, reassures the customer, and likely costs Google less than what they’ll earn from whatever sort of commission they get for bookings.
Booking a Price Drop Guarantee Flight
Next Thursday, August 22, I need to fly to Denver from the Washington, D.C. area, and then ten days later from Denver to Charleston, SC. Prices have been cheap enough for one ways that I’ve been planning on buying cash flights. I was on the verge of buying last week but then read about the upcoming Price Drop Guarantee trial and decided to wait a little longer to participate.
Yesterday a flight on Spirit popped up for just $57 with the Price Drop Guarantee stamp.
When I selected the flight, I was given the option to book through Google or through Spirit. To get the Price Drop Guarantee, you have to book on Google versus on Spirit’s site, so I chose that option.
On the following screen I filled out my passenger and payment info, and then reviewed and confirmed the flight.
If the price of my flight drops between now and August 22, I will receive an email from Google with a link to claim my reimbursement.
Still Earn 5x on Amex Platinum
Arguably the number one travel card to purchase airfare with, the Platinum Card from American Express, earns 5x Membership Rewards for purchases directly with an airline but not with an online travel agency like Expedia or Orbitz. Thankfully buying flights on Google doesn’t mean the purchase is completed with Google, as is pointed out during the booking process.
I confirmed that the payment was indeed processed through Spirit by checking out my Chase online account of the latest card I’m meeting a minimum spending requirement on, the Ink Business Unlimited. The charge was indeed from Spirit Air.
So you’ll still earn 5 Membership Rewards per dollar spent on your Platinum or 3 Membership Rewards on your American Express Gold Card if you use them to buy Price Drop Guarantee flights on Google.
Google Travel is testing a new feature called Price Drop Guarantee through September 2. Booking a flight via Google Flights labeled with the Price Drop Guarantee logo means that flight is likely your cheapest option, and if it does drop you will get the price difference refunded if that difference is more than $5. A single person can get up to $500 refunded during this trial period.
I doubt my $57 cheap-o Spirit flight can get much cheaper than that, but if it does and I get a Price Drop refund, I’ll be sure to update this post!
Do you think this new feature is here to stay?