Normally I’m one to avoid using a third-party booking engine when it comes to buying airfare (especially after the Travelocity NFB2012 fiasco), but I stumbled upon an interesting offer earlier today that lead me to do some additional research.
Cash back site, TopCashBack is advertising a today-only deal of $18.00 cash back per air ticket booked through CheapTickets.com. My first thought was something along the lines of, “wow, this could be a lucrative way to save on short-haul one-way travel!”; but those dreams were quickly shattered.
When I book my airfare, I usually run a search through Google’s ITA Matrix Airfare software, and then book my ticket directly through the airline. Naturally, I ran a few sample routings through ITA and came up with some great results to potentially help others take advantage of this “seemingly-great” cash back opportunity.
My first example was EWR to BOS, which was pricing out for ~$50 one way during several dates in February. I figured this would be a great way to potentially be able to fly for just $32 on United when the $18 cash back gets factored in.
The next example I came up with, for my west coast readers, was a simple SFO to LAX routing, which priced out at $59 one way for several dates over the next 30 days. A $41 fare between those two cities on United after the cash back is factored in sounds appealing to me.
Here’s where this “deal” gets deceiving:
Now that I had did my “homework” and found out what United was pricing these fares at, I automatically assumed that the same fares would be available on CheapTickets.com, since other 3rd-party booking sites such as Orbitz.com, were also showing the same price as United.com.
Nope, that was not the case at all. In fact, both of my sample fares that I pulled up on CheapTickets.com were showing up at a substantially-higher price than the airline, making this $18 cash back deal not worth it at all.
EWR to BOS priced out at $71.89 on CheapTickets.com… Ew.
Now, I bet some of you are thinking, “What about their best-rate gaurentee policy? Could that potentially make this deal worth it?”
Nope, sorry; their BRG policy only applies to hotel bookings.
Don’t get too excited over a deal before doing your own research!