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Wanderlusts don’t have to spend a lot of dough to reach the destination of their dreams. (Getty Images)

Rewarding ways to save time and money on your next flight

Wanderlusts don’t have to spend a lot of dough to reach the destination of their dreams. With a few easy flight hacks, you can become a frequent flier that saves you both time and money.

Really, it all comes down to the type of flier that you are. Knowing how and why you fly, can go a long way in determining the types of travel rewards or programs that you need in your life. To make it simpler, we identified some common travelers, and how they might be able to take advantage of programs that go a long way toward saving both time and money.

So ask yourself: What type of flier are you?

You’re constantly late for your departure:

You put off packing until a few hours before takeoff, and now you’re in a cab rushing to the airport with a cold sweat. If you’re terminally late that doesn’t mean you have to be late at the terminal. Enrolling in the TSA PreCheck program—a five year, $85 membership—can save you time and money, especially when it involves those expensive rebooking fees for a missed flight. The biggest benefit of flying PreCheck is peace of mind. You won’t have to wait in long security lines, there’s no need to take out a laptop or liquids, and you won’t have to remove your shoes. It’s the speed you need to actually make your flight in time.

You travel a lot with your significant other:

Repeat after me: Southwest Companion Pass. If you fly a lot with a loved one, the Companion Pass can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars on flights. This buy-one-get-one pass means you only pay taxes and fees on your companion’s flight for a full calendar year, plus the year you enroll. One of the easiest ways to make Companion Pass—an elite right of passage for Southwest loyalists—is by playing the credit card points game. Of course, you’ll want to check your credit score before you decide to open two credit cards in-a-row (Southwest Premium and Plus cards). But time the card openings right and use the cards for daily expenses, and you and a companion could soon have almost two years of flying for the price of one. Not to mention, Southwest services BWI, DCA, and IAD with friendly cancellation and bags-fly-free policies.

You’re in a seriously, committed bi-coastal relationship:

If you’re one of those fliers that finds yourself visiting the west coast frequently, then you’ll want to pick a carrier with reliable nonstop service. Alaska Airlines has one of the highest on-time performance ratings, according to the Punctuality League’s rankings. Alaska Airlines also has some of the most flexible rewards points in the world with their Mileage Plan loyalty program, which gains you access to 15 global airline partners and more than 900 destinations worldwide. And really, the best is yet to come. That’s because starting January 1, Virgin America (another carrier known for it’s west-coast convenience) will join forces with Alaska Airlines uniting its rewards points system. And in 2019, Virgin America will fully merge with Alaska Airlines becoming a single, cohesive brand.

You want to feel like a high-roller, without spending it all:

Finally, for those who enjoy the little luxuries of travel consider signing up for an American Express card, specifically the American Express Platinum Card. The list of travel benefits go on-and-on: up to $200 in Uber credits per year; free entry to more than 1,000 airport lounges in 120 countries; a $200 airline credit for things like in-flight service and bag fees; free membership to Global Entry or TSA PreCheck; hotel upgrades; and plenty more benefits. Basically, if you like to travel and appreciate the finer things in life, this card’s for you. Yes, the annual fee of $550 is expensive, but travel enough and this card may just pay for itself.

Tim Ebner is a food and travel writer from Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter @TimEbner or on Instagram @ebnert.

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