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Even if you’re budget conscious, travel expenses rack up quickly and some can be completely out of your control. For instance, costly roaming charges for your phone are probably the last thing you’re thinking about when planning a trip. And you can’t blame yourself for surge pricing on a ridesharing app. Either way, it all adds up and you could face a shocking total at the end of your adventure.
A great way to avoid surprise credit card charges is to sign up for travel subscription services that save you money up front.
Here are our favorite travel subscription services:
- Blade Plus
- Priority Pass
- Lyft Pink
- Google Fi
- TSA PreCheck/Global Entry
1. Blade Plus
If there’s a way to get to and from the airport in minutes, wouldn’t it be wise to take it? Blade gets passengers to LAX and all the major New York City airports via helicopter in record time for $195 a person. Considering how car services, taxis and ridesharing apps can charge around $100 a ride, the view from the sky might be worth an extra $95. Plus, shaving at least an hour off your schedule is priceless.
For travelers committed to the idea, there’s an annual Blade Airport Pass for $795, which saves you $100 per helicopter ride—knocking the fare down to $95. It also includes $50 off one companion seat, as long as you’re both coming from the same flight, and a dedicated specialist 24/7. All in all, the pass pays for itself if you use it five times in one year.
Blade also offers a Hamptons pass, commuter services, passes you can gift to friends and other options.
2. Priority Pass
Not only do airport lounges have free Wi-Fi, but those spaces are your chance to get away from crowded gates and overpriced food and drinks. With Priority Pass, flyers can escape for as little as $99 a year, which keeps the entrance fee at over 1,400 participating locations worldwide to $35 for members.
The next tier up is the Standard Plus annual package at $329 that comes with 10 free visits for members and lowers entrance fees to $35 on each subsequent visit. And for $469 annually, you can go for the Prestige option, which makes all member visits free. All guests are $35 each for each membership.
Getting into a United Club lounge is $59, and a proper meal at an airport restaurant can cost more than $35, ultimately proving there’s plenty of savings behind every Priority Pass membership. Still, most frequent flyers likely receive free lounge access depending on their status, but it becomes valuable for the times you’re not traveling with your go-to airline.
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3. Lyft Pink
For some, $9.99 a month is worth it for 5% off Standard, Preferred, XL and Lux car rides through Lyft Pink. You'll also get free Priority Pickup upgrades with the subscription, which Lyft values at $3-$4 per ride. The company estimates most users save around $23 per month with the subscription, but that doesn't take into account the monthly fee, so your mileage may vary.
A few other perks of the subscription includes a limited number of free bike or scooter unlocks in select cities, surprise offers and relaxed cancellations.
4. Google Fi
Just because you're traveling abroad doesn't mean you want to be totally off the grid—or charged an arm and a leg to make phone calls. The good thing is that with a plan from Google Fi, you won't be. Google Fi's higher-tier plans offer robust international features for frequent travelers, including free phone calls from more than 50 countries that span the globe from Australia to Ireland to Peru and many places in between. What's more, these plans offer free data in 200 locations.
The higher-level plans also come with unlimited hotspot tethering in case you need to get some work done on the go, along with 100 GB of Google One storage, so stashing those vacation pix should be a breeze.
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Inspirato's subscription service starts at $2,550 per month, and with the membership, pass holders can choose from thousands of five-star hotels, experiences and luxury cruises.
The monthly fee is inclusive for all nightly rates, taxes and fees on Inspirato Pass trips, and the best part is there’s no limit on the amount of trips you can take. If you want to go on an unbelievable South African safari, a scenic cruise along France’s Seine River and more all in the same month, Inspirato can make that happen.
Note, you are responsible for all airline tickets, rental cars, food, activities and other trip add-ons. Regardless, since one night on these luxury getaways is valued at thousands of dollars, you’ll quickly make up the price of the membership. That said, the starting price is relatively high, so this service is really only ideal for certain types of travelers.
6. TSA PreCheck/Global Entry
For many travelers, a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership is practically essential. Both of these programs help flyers get through security lines faster at the airport for a smoother and less stressful process.
Global Entry—typically better for international travelers as it helps you get through customs faster—costs $100 for a five-year membership. TSA PreCheck—often great for domestic flyers as it helps you breeze through security lines—comes in at just $78 for five years. And with the right travel credit card, it's fairly easy to get a free membership to the program of your choice (often redeemed as statement credits).
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If you're the type who loves to jump in the car and go for a road trip across the state—or across the country—a membership with AAA is a smart thing to have in your back pocket. AAA is known for its roadside assistance benefits, like help with flat tires, jumpstarts, tows and more.
As important as those services are when you're in an emergency, the motor club offers even more benefits, such as motorcycle and bicycle services. Plus, members can also take advantage of a plethora of discounts on things like rental cars, restaurants, theme parks, movie tickets, museum admission and more.
Those in search of the lowest airfare may have already heard of Scott's Cheap Flights, and the company recently rebranded as Going. A subscription gets you access to discounted flight alerts, and if you want to test out the service, you can start with a free plan. But the real benefits come from the paid subscriptions because you'll get alerts a day or two sooner, likely increasing your odds of snagging better deals.
Paid plans range from $49 to $199 per year at the time of this writing, and depending on the plan you select, you could have access to international flights, miles and points deals, mistake fares and more.
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Are These Subscriptions Worth It?
While this all sounds like a relief to your wallet, the important thing to remember is these services are only worth it if you have several getaways on the books. Paying every month for something isn’t cost effective if you’re just using it once in a while. But for those of you with the travel bug, check out these services for your on-the-go lifestyle.
And don’t forget to set a Deal Alert with us to stay up-to-date on the latest travel news and discounts.