Looking to score a good deal on flights? We’re always trying to find ways to lower our vacation costs.

And Google Flights is a great tool for finding the best price. There’s all kinds of useful features to help pinpoint:

  • the best days to fly,
  • whether or not you’re looking at a good deal, and
  • tracking specific flights for pricing.

But it’s not without its shortcomings.

So, consider this your go-to guide to using Google Flights. And before you know it, saving on your next vacation will be easier than you thought.

How to use Google Flights

When you first head over to Google Flights, this is what you’ll see:

Google flights home screen

It will automatically select the closest airport to you, fill in some dates, and give a couple of suggested trips.

The first thing to check are the settings – language, country and currency are further down on the landing page:

Google flight settings

These are automatically set, and should be correct, but it’s always good to double check.

A note on the currency – though prices may be displayed in your currency of choice, when you go to book a flight, it may actually be in a different currency (especially if the first flight departs from a different country) and the numbers won’t be the same.

Now that your settings are in order, you can start searching for flights.

You can select:

  • how many people are going,
  • one way or round trip flight,
  • cabin class, and
  • cities or airport codes.

And, to help get the best price, Google doesn’t just get results from airlines – they also check many other travel sites like Expedia and Orbitz.

Here’s a basic search result for a flight from Edmonton to Vancouver:

Example of a Google flights search result

To see flight details, click the down arrow at the right:

Example of a Google Flight result

Now let’s go through the other various features Google Flights offers.

Advanced search features

Beyond the destination and dates, there’s several other features you can incorporate in your search.

Just under the cities and date boxes, you can:

  • add the price of bags to the cost,
  • how many stops,
  • filter out airlines, or
  • choose your departure times, etc.

Google flight additional search options

Pricing by date

An easy way to find the best prices for your trip?

Click on the date grid and you’ll see the potential cost of your trip 3 days before and after your selected dates:

Google flights price grid

Another way to do this is by clicking on the date you entered in. It will show you the cheapest option for every day:

Google flights date grid

If you’re flexible with your trip dates, this is a great way to get the best deal.

Adding additional airports to search

To take your results even further, you can add nearby airports to search from.

For our search, Edmonton doesn’t have any nearby airports – Calgary would be the closest major airport. But for Vancouver, you could think about adding in Abbotsford as a destination.

Click on nearby airports and a map will come up showing what other airports are near your destination:

Results for Google flights nearby cities

Just looking at the map, it shows you can save yourself almost $100 round trip by flying into Abbotsford instead.

You can also add additional airports in the city search box.

This can be an important tool, especially when flying within Europe. Most low cost carriers in Europe don’t fly into major airports, and use secondary airports farther away from the city. Using this tool will help find the airports carriers like EasyJet and Ryanair fly from, for example.

Baggage costs

Another helpful tool provided by Google Flights is the baggage costs feature, especially when you’re looking at different airlines with different baggage pricing. It will allow you to see the true cost of your flight.

But they go further than that. If you look at the Flair Airlines flight result, there’s a symbol next to the price:

Example flight

Hover over it, and Google Flights let’s you know that you need to pay for access to overhead bins on the flight, meaning you can only take a personal item that fits under the seat in front of you for free:

Google Flights bag alert

For a better comparison, use the bags option box and specify that you want to add a carry on bag:

Adding a bag in Google Flights

The prices should update and you can see that the Flair option, while still cheaper, may not be quite as good as it seemed:

Update Google Flight result

Of course, if you were just going to check a bag, the Flair option still looks great. But, if you want a carry on, Air Canada or WestJet won’t have any additional charges waiting for you, where as Flair has more charges for you to consider.

How to tell if your flight is a good deal

Want to know if you’re getting a good deal or not? Just below the best departing flights section, Google Flights will let you know:

Google Flights value

If you’re looking at a flight that isn’t leaving for several months, you can get a handle on whether or not you’re getting a good deal and make a more informed decision on whether you should take the plunge and book your flight.

Booking your flight

For added convenience, once you’ve found a flight you like, you can get Google to redirect you to the airlines site for booking.

We’ll keep using the Flair Airlines flight as our example. Just click on your departing flight, then choose your returning flight.

You’ll get a screen that shows the total cost, gives booking options, and shows the full itinerary. You’ll also see the estimated baggage charges as well:

Google Flight booking

You can send this itinerary to yourself, share it with others, or track prices (more on that later).

Select the Flair Airlines option and you’ll be brought to the Flair Airlines homepage where you’ll have to find your flight.

If you choose an Air Canada or WestJet flight, you’ll be brought to a page where you can confirm your selected flight and start your booking without having to find your flights again:

Google Flights Air Canada booking

The availability of this feature depends on the airline.

Use Google Flights for price tracking

So, with all the features laid out, the biggest thing you can get out of Google Flights is the price tracking. Google will monitor the flight prices for you and send you an email when the prices change.

How do you activate it? First, you’ll have to sign into your Google account.

Then, just above the best departing flights text is the track prices button. Use this to track the general prices of any flight on your dates:

Price tracking through Google flights.

You’ll now receive emails when the price of your trip changes.

Want to track a specific set of flights? You can do that too.

Once you have selected a trip, the track prices button is right under the total price:

Tracking specific flights using Google Flights

You can also see the past history for your tracked searches as well. At the top left corner, expand the menu, and click on tracked flight prices:

Google Flights menu

You can now view your tracked prices and see the recent history of what you are tracking:

Google Flights tracking summary

When the price has changed, Google will send you an email with the details. For our Flair Airlines flight, we got this email the next day:

Google Flights price change alert

Our Flair flights dropped $20. But it also shows an Air Canada option that’s even cheaper.

This feature will save you from having to constantly check flight prices. Google will do it for you. All you have to do is check your email.

Where Google Flights falls short

Google Flights is a great tool, but it’s not perfect. It does have a few small flaws.

First, not all airlines show their prices. For example, here is a trip between Chicago and Las Vegas on Southwest Airlines:

Google Flights Southwest search

Google flights can’t display the prices for any Southwest flight. This is just one example.

There are also times when you may see a cheaper trip, but you have to call to book the flight instead of doing it online.

Here’s an example of one, from Charlottetown to Yellowknife:

Google Flight result that can't be booked

And finally, the round trip price you see isn’t necessarily what you’ll pay. It depends on the returning flight.

For our Edmonton to Vancouver trip, you only get the low price if you book a connecting flight on the way back. A direct flight costs a little more. So, to get the full price, select both an outgoing and returning flight.

Cancelling a flight purchase through Google Flights

Looking to cancel (or change) a flight purchased through Google Flights?

Since Google is simply a referral site, you have to contact the airline. They are the ones you would have made the actual booking with.

And whether you can cancel or change your flight will depend on the fare class you purchased.

Best credit cards for booking any flight

Want to save even more money on flights? A credit card that offers flexible travel rewards will allow you to use your points to pay for any travel purchase.

This way, you can find a great deal on any airline and use your points to pay for it.

Many credit cards do require you use their own site for booking flights. But, you can always use Google Flights to do your research and then check those flights at the card’s website. Just make sure the prices match or there’s a price match policy in place.

And with that said, here are our favourite flexible rewards travel credit cards.

Welcome Bonus Earn Rate Annual Fee, Income Requirements Apply Now
American Express Cobalt Up to 30,000 points (terms) Up to 5 points per $1 spent $120, no income requirements Apply Now
Scotiabank Gold American Express Up to 30,000 points (terms) Up to 5 points per $1 spent $120, no income requirements Apply Now
TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Up to 90,000 points (terms), first year free Up to 9 points per $1 spent $120, 60K personal or 100K household income requirements Apply Now
BMO World Elite Mastercard 35,000 points (terms), first year free Up to 3 points per $1 spent $150, 80K personal or 150K household income requirements Apply Now
National Bank World Elite Mastercard Up to $480 cash back (terms) Up to 2 points per $1 spent $150, 80K personal or 150K household income requirements Apply Now

American Express Cobalt

As our top rated credit card, the offers not only lots of points, but 2 ways to use them when you book any flight.

You can simply charge any travel purchase to your card and use your points to help pay for the cost. Each point is worth one cent when booked this way.

Or, you can use the Fixed Points Travel Program. Use a set amount of points to fly to a zone, regardless of the price. You just have to pay any taxes, fees and carrier surcharges. You can get a value of up to 2 cents per point maximizing this chart.

Either way, you’ll be saving money on your next flight.

As for points, start off with a welcome bonus of up to 30,000 points – 2,500 points for every month you spend $500 in the first year.

The points also add up fast with these earn rates:

  • 5 points per $1 spent on grocery and restaurant purchases,
  • 2 points per $1 spent on travel, transit and gas, and
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite

The is a good card to consider to not only save money on flights, but earn great rewards on your travel bookings too.

Scotiabank Gold American Express

Another top choice is the .

What makes this card stand out are the lack of foreign exchange fees. If you use this card to pay for flights in a foreign currency, you’ll save yourself the usual 2.5% charge other credit cards will make you pay.

And like the Cobalt Card, it’ll also earn lots of points for your purchases:

  • 5 points per $1 spent on restaurants, groceries and entertainment,
  • 3 points per $1 spent on gas, transit and select streaming services, and
  • 1 point per 1 on all other purchases.

To help get you started, there’s also a welcome bonus of 25,000 points and an additional 5,000 after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases in the first year.

You can use your Scotia Rewards points through Scotia Rewards for a partial points payment. Or, if you have enough points to cover the entire purchase, you can also book from any provider and use your points to cover the purchase as a statement credit. Either way, each point is worth 1 cent.

Bonus card: If you want to collect Scotia Rewards points and still pay no foreign transaction fees, but prefer a Visa? The is another good card to consider.

You’ll earn fewer points, but get better perks such as airport lounge access.

Make your travel bookings at Expedia For TD and earn 9 points per $1 spent on your bookings. With each point worth 0.5 cents each, that’s a whopping 4.5% return on your travel purchases.

And, you’ll earn 3 points per $1 spent on all other purchases, for a cool 1.5% return on all your other spending.

Another area where this card really shines? The sign-up bonus. This card starts off by waiving the annual fee for the first year (normally $120).

And you’ll be able to earn up to 80,000 points as part of signing up:

  • 20,000 points after your first purchase,
  • 40,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months, and
  • 20,000 points after spending $10,000 and keeping your account open, active and in good standing for one year.

That’s up to $400 in travel rewards. If this offer appeals to you, it’s currently set to end on September 2, 2019.

BMO World Elite Mastercard

For extra perks while travelling, the is a great choice.

It’ll start you off with a welcome bonus of 35,000 points. With a point worth 0.71 cents for travel booked through BMO Rewards, that’s a value of $249.

There are also good earn rates on all of your purchases:

  • 3 points per $1 spent on travel, dining and entertainment (up to $50,000 annually), and
  • 2 points per $1 spent on everything else.

Where this card really starts to shine are the added extras. First, a great insurance package. This card comes with 14 out of 16 possible types of credit card insurances:

And, secondly, if airport lounge access is something you enjoy, this card comes with a membership and 4 free passes to Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey.

National Bank World Elite Mastercard

For a travel card that saves you more than just the cost of flights while travelling, the also has other ways to save you money while travelling.

How? It offers some pretty useful travel reimbursements that take a bite out of typical flight expenses.

You can get reimbursed every year on up to $250 for these expenses:

  • $100 for airport parking,
  • $100 for baggage fees, and
  • $50 for seat selection.

These discounts easily offset the $150 annual fee.

On top of that, you’ll earn National Bank Rewards at the following rates:

  • 1.5 points per $1 spent on the first 40K in purchases,
  • 2 points per $1 on the next 40K, and
  • 1.5 points per $1 after that.

You also get a bonus 1.5 points per $1 spent on bookings made through National Bank.

Each point is worth 1 cent when redeemed through National Bank Rewards for flights and vacation packages.

And for a limited time, you’ll earn $40 cash back for every month you spend $500 in the first month, up to a maximum of $480 cash back.

Where are you off to next?

Now, thanks to Google Flights, you’re locked and loaded, ready to save on your next trip.

Where are you off to next?

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