HOUSTON (KTRK) --The busy holiday travel season is almost here, and your mobile device might just be the key to saving time and money.
Mommypoints.com blogger Summer Hull uses apps and reward points to travel the world for little to no cost. Hull says the best travel apps can be divided into two main categories, those that make travel easier (both the actual travel, and travel planning) and those that help save money on travel. Occasionally, one can be useful in both categories.
She recommends not downloading any and all travel apps that you aren't going to use regularly, as it is a waste of time and space on your smart phone. For example, if you rarely fly United, don't get the United app. However, if you fly them regularly the app can be very helpful with making and managing reservations.
If you want to keep all of your travel plans together in one place, then TripIt is your best friend. It can organize your flights, rental car reservations, hotel stays, train trips and more into one itinerary that is easily sharable with others. It will also notify you in case of a delay or gate change, as well as suggest alternate travel plans when your flight plans go amuck. Often TripIt is the first to notify our travel expert of flight delays, even before the airlines. There is a free version as well as a premium version that runs $49 per year for frequent travelers. The differences are outlined here.
Both Kayak and Kayak Pro compare travel deals across multiple providers and are generally considered some of the best travel pricing/purchasing apps. The Pro version is $0.99 and the regular version is free. It uses a map for selecting hotel, can handle multi-city bookings, and does a good job hunting down some of the lowest prices.
If you are on a road trip, or just driving around town, and want to find the lowest gas prices, the free Gas Buddy app will show you prices for different grades of gas at nearby stations. The info is user generated, so not always 100 percent accurate, but should give you a decent idea of prices in the area.
Hyatt Booking App
This is a great free app because they offer 1,000 bonus Hyatt Gold Passport points per booking made via the app through the end of the year. Those points are worth about $15 on average toward future award stays, so this app is a must at least through the end of the year.
The free Club Carlson app is also offering 3,000 bonus points for stays booked via their app through November 16th.
You can usually sign-up for a promo to get your first ride free (then refer your spouse, parents, etc. for their first ride free and get extra free rides). Even when the rides aren't free, this app is a life saver when you are in a city you aren't familiar with and need to get from Point A to Point B. You press the button and a car appears to take you where you need to go. This is a cashless transaction that really helps on your travels.
The Points Guy To Go
If you want to maximize the miles and points you are earning in order to get you to your next award trip faster, the brand new TPG To Go app can be super helpful in suggesting what credit card to use for different purchases, tracking spending bonuses, and keeping you in the loop on other miles and points happenings. The app is free, but there is also a pro version available for $3.99.