Buying an airline ticket is easily one of the most confusing and costly purchases a traveler can make. There are many questions: Is the price found online the best price? Could the price go down? What does it cost to re-book the ticket if things change?
MasterCard cardholders now have a new airfare tracking tool, called PriceAssure, that may provide some assistance. What is it and should you give it a try? We investigate below.
Anyone with a MasterCard and a existing flight registration on any of big domestic carriers (American, Delta, United, US Airways and JetBlue were all listed when we checked) are all eligible to use the service. At this point, PriceAssure doesn’t cover international airfares.
How it Works
To start, new users need to enroll in the program by providing their basic MasterCard card details, name and an account login. After login, users have a couple options: The first is to input an existing flight itinerary and the price paid for the ticket. Gadling Labs tried out an upcoming flight that we’re taking on American Airlines from LaGuardia to O’Hare.
Once the flights are in the system, PriceAssure goes to work. It constantly monitors the current fare on your airline for the chosen dates. Should that price fall below the price you originally paid for your ticket, PriceAssure sends out an email, letting you know that you may be eligible for a refund. Interestingly enough, PriceAssure also incorporates any potential change fee you might have pay as part of the new re-booking price.
All of this, mind you, is based on the type of ticket that you have booked and what the rules are for changing that ticket (and the fees therein). If one is booked on a heavily discounted ticket with high change fees, for example, a $20 fare drop won’t account for the $150 in change fees so a refund is moot. But for a more flexible ticket or a larger price drop, the service is particularly handy.
Once you discover you’re eligible for a refund, MasterCard also offers to call up the airline for you to negotiate your refund for $19.95. You can make the call yourself for no additional charge (though the hold time and haggling with the customer service rep is up to you).
With all the variables involved in booking airfare these days, any solution that claims to simplify the process is already a thumbs up in our book. That said, PriceAssure is likely to work best for certain certain types of travelers more than others.
If you’re a budget traveler, chances are you’re already buying heavily discounted airfares and the likelihood your fare will fall enough to save you more money is slim. Even if the price on your flight does fall, it’s not likely to be enough to offset the often hefty airline change fees attached to most deep discount tickets.
Business travelers, however, play a different game. Many of these passengers book more flexible, high-cost airfares, and for these itineraries, PriceAssure will prove quite useful. Take a test drive of the application over at priceassure.mastercard.com