Book your holiday travel already? You should’ve waited

WASHINGTON — As summer comes to a close, many Americans have already made travel plans for the holiday season.

While 6 million Americans have already bought their holiday travel airline tickets, another 8 million have already made their hotel reservations. But a report says the early birds may not have gotten the best deals.

All counted, about 35 million Americans will stay in a hotel over the holidays and 31 million plan to fly. As of the end of August, 23 percent of those expected travelers had already arranged for their hotel and 20 percent had their plane reservations.

According to airfare tracker Hopper, they probably should’ve waited.

Guessing when you’ll get the best fare is like a game of whack-a-mole, but there are certain patterns, and booking around the holidays is among them.

Hopper says the best time to buy Christmas tickets is in early October, and Thanksgiving prices typically remain stable through Halloween. says holiday travelers can add to their savings by finally using some of their rewards points.

“Many consumers, especially those who travel infrequently, may not realize how many points or miles they have racked up through everyday spending on their credit cards,” said.

Many card reward programs allow points to be redeemed for both hotel and air travel, and says a healthy number of hotels and airlines have eliminated their holiday blackout periods.

Consumers also prefer booking airline tickets directly on airline websites — 43 percent — compared to comparison websites — 32 percent — but that preference is reversed for hotel bookings. In that category, 34 percent prefer comparison sites and 31 percent go directly to a specific hotel property’s website.

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