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Scott’s Cheap Flights just celebrated its 6th birthday. In those 6 years, numerous other email-based flight deal subscription services have sprung up trying to replicate Scott’s success. But for many travelers, Scott’s Cheap Flights is still the king of flight deals.
Let’s dig into the three subscription tiers and see what we like about Scott’s Cheap Flights — and what could be improved upon.
What is Scott’s Cheap Flights?
Scott’s Cheap Flights is an email subscription service that sends flight deals for international and domestic (US) destinations. It has free and paid options, and the service claims that most of the deals it sends are 40% to 90% off the average prices.
Scott’s Cheap Flights Free Service
Scott’s Cheap Flights operates on a “freemium” model. That means you can sign up as a “Limited” member to receive flight deal emails completely free of charge. If you like what you see, you can upgrade to the Premium version to get more deals and faster notifications.
Free subscribers get limited international economy deals from up to 5 origin airports. For infrequent travelers, this might be all you need. You’ll be notified of great deals, such as a recent $462 round-trip airfare from US airports to Athens, Greece:
However, flight deals are delayed approximately 30 minutes from the time Premium subscribers receive the deal. You will also not receive emails about domestic deals, error rates, or premium cabin deals. But it’s a free service, so it’s hard to complain about these limitations.
The emails contain instructions on how to book the flight deals, including which travel dates and airlines are available and which platform to book the flight through (directly with the airline or through an online travel agency such as Expedia).
Scott’s Cheap Flights “Bestie Test”
With the proliferation of low cost airlines such as Spirit Airlines and Ryanair, it is not difficult to find cheap flights. However, not all airlines and routes are created equal. One of my favorite aspects of Scott’s Cheap Flights is “The Bestie Test,” where the service only sends a deal it would recommend to its best friend.
That means that a cheap flight ticket is not enough. The itinerary should have a good route that minimizes your travel time, so either a direct flight or a flight with a reasonable connection time.
In addition, the deal must be for an airline that is not considered a low-cost carrier and not for last-minute travel.
Sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights
Here’s how to sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights:
- Go to Scott’s Cheap Flights
- Sign in by entering your email, first name and password or by linking your Google account
- After an introduction to Scott’s Cheap Flights, you will be prompted to set your home airport
- Then enter up to 6 destinations you want to visit
- Finally, you will have the chance to enter up to 4 additional airports from which you also want to get flight deals. These can be airports nearby or airports that you don’t mind flying to for a lot of money.
The last prompt is about what types of deals you want to see. If you’re just hoping to try out the free version, select “economy class deals” and click next.
However, if you want better deals like premium cabin deals, error rates, or weekend getaways, you’ll need to upgrade to a Premium or Elite membership. To see if these paid plans are worth the cost, you have the option to test either service for free for 14 days:
Is it worth upgrading to Scott’s Cheap Flights Premium?
If you’re a semi-frequent flyer, it’s probably worth upgrading to Scott’s Cheap Flights Premium. For $49 per year, the subscription unlocks:
- All great deals (international and domestic) for up to 10 airports of origin
- Wrong fares from your chosen airports
- Weekend getaway ideas
- Bucketlist deals, such as deals for the Galapagos Islands, Cuzco (for Machu Picchu), Buffalo (for Niagara Falls), and Munich (during Oktoberfest)
Additionally, becoming a paid subscriber helps support Scott’s Cheap Flights team in seeking out and finding flight deals. I’ve been Scott’s Cheap Flights Premium subscriber since May 2016 – when Scott’s emails were a bit simpler:
Every time my subscription needs to be renewed, it was an easy decision to keep paying for another year of Premium deals. Scott’s error rates have helped me book absolutely incredible deals, including:
- Atlanta to Santiago, Chile for $62 round trip non-stop on Delta
- Miami to Barcelona, Spain, in business class, for a $264 round trip (this error fare was canceled by the airline before I could fly)
- Miami to Tokyo for $312 round trip, one stop with American Airlines
- New York to Singapore, then to New Delhi, then back to New York for a $364 return
- Los Angeles to Nani, Fiji for $395 Nonstop Roundtrip Flight with Fiji Airways
These are simply the best deals I’ve booked in recent years. Depending on the number of departure airports you select, you can expect to receive multiple flight deals each day — from domestic destinations to global travel.
The only question is whether getting premium deals like this is worth $49 of your travel budget. And that will be a personal decision.
For many, the amount they save on flights from just one deal can easily afford the subscription itself.
New Scott’s Cheap Flights Elite Service
In June 2021, Scott’s Cheap Flights unveiled an even more premium membership tier called Elite that costs $199 per year. In addition to all Premium benefits, Elite members get error fares from all airports and premium cabin deals (premium economy, business class and first class).
To see if it’s worth the cost, I’ve been testing the Elite service for the past few weeks (received a free sample of the Elite membership from Scott’s Cheap Flights). In just a few weeks I was made aware of premium cabin deals such as:
- Premium economy to Istanbul for $983 round trip
- Premium economy to Kenya for $1,248 round trip
- Business class to Patagonia for $1,535 round trip
- Business class to Seychelles for $2,595 round trip
- First class to Geneva for $3,167 round trip
While I find the Premium subscription price easily worth the cost, I’m not quite convinced yet whether Elite is worth $199 a year to me. That said, I mostly book economy tickets. For those seeking a truly special getaway—or seeking the higher elite earnings of premium cabins—the $199-a-year price can be a worthwhile investment for curated premium deals.
Possible improvements to Scott’s Cheap Flights
Scott’s Cheap Flights generally filters pretty well for the information you need to know in the deal alert emails. However, some deal alerts may contain misleading information. Take, for example, this recent deal alert for Austin (AUS):
Since Atlanta is my home airport, Scott’s Cheap Flights only shows this one route and even states that the deal is available non-stop. But of the airlines listed, only Southwest has a non-stop option.
Delta isn’t listed either, but it also had flights with a $117 non-stop round trip — though these Delta fares may have been added after Scott’s Cheap Flights sent out this deal warning.
Best credit card for Scott’s Cheap Flights
Which credit card to use for Scott’s Cheap Flights subscriptions
Unfortunately, although it is a travel-related service, Scott’s Cheap Flights subscriptions are not coded as travel purchases. So you don’t get bonuses for using travel-oriented credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
So if you’re working on a sign-up bonus for a new credit card, it’s best to use that card to pay for your subscription. Otherwise, you’ll want to use a credit card for everyday expenses:
Best Tickets to Take Advantage of Scott’s Cheap Flights Deals
However, when it comes to booking a flight deal, you have plenty of ways to earn bonus points. Chase offers an industry-leading 5X points per dollar on airfare booked through its Ultimate Rewards® portal on four of its cards – including two cards with no annual fee:
And by booking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal, you can apply Ultimate Rewards® points to your booking. That can turn a cheap flight into a completely free flight. For example, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can use 20,000 Ultimate Rewards® points to book a $300 round-trip flight for nothing out of pocket.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card currently offers a welcome bonus where you earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards® points after spending $4,000 in the first three months after opening an account. Those 60,000 points are worth $750 for travel booked through the Chase Travel portal. This means you can book two $300 round trips with just the welcome bonus.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
$50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel credit, 5X points for travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points for dining, 2X points for all other travel purchases, 5X points for Lyft rides through March 2022, and 1X points for all other purchases
Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening
15.99% to 22.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers
Balance transfer fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
Foreign transaction costs
However, sometimes flight deals are not available through the travel portal. So if you book directly with the airline, your best options are:
What it comes down to:
Scott’s Cheap Flights has informed me of many airfares that have saved me thousands of dollars over the years. If you want to be informed about cheap airfares, this is worth considering. Fortunately, you can sign up for the free service to test it out and then upgrade to the paid version if you want to enjoy the extra benefits.
Information about the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card has been independently collected by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer prior to publication.
Editor’s Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations in this article are those of the Select editors only, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.