cFares Might be Worth Checking on Your Next Trip

I’m sure you’re familiar with Kayak, Sidestep, Farecast, etc in addition to the Expedias, Orbitzes, and Travelocitys of the world. There are obviously plenty of places to book tickets, but there’s another one you probably haven’t heard of that might be worth a look . . . cFares. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

These guys have a different model than most. Yes, they are a metasearch site, so you can go on like anywhere else and search for flights. The sorting and filtering functions are fine, and the interface is relatively clean. The only problem with their basic metasearch functionality is that they don’t show you where you’ll buy your ticket until after you click and they send you there. That’s enough for me not to use them were they simply competing with Sidestep directly.

But on top of this, they have their Platinum fares. In short, if you become a Platinum member by paying $50 a year, you can get a rebate to help bring the cost down of your trip. For example, we’re not heading back to see my wife’s family for the holidays this year, but what if we wanted to change our minds? Here’s what cFares shows me.

cFares Screenshot

As you can see, the regular fares are on the right, but Platinum members could save $29 via a rebate. Two of these tickets and you could easily pay for your $50 annual fee.

So how do they do it? It’s pretty interesting actually. Some of the rebate comes from the membership fees, advertising revenue, etc. But they’re also starting to work with airlines and online travel agents who are interested in dynamically changing prices when the search happens.

For example, US Airways (I don’t know if they actually participate, but theoretically) might say that if anyone beats their price by $20, they’ll rebate the difference. cFares can handle that. You would book your ticket on whatever site they send you, and then you enter your confirmation number and they’ll give you the rebate on your credit card.

This makes it worth a look, but it’s definitely not the place to go as your only booking site. On this particular example, I actually found something on Orbitz (via Kayak) for less than even the Platinum rate. On other searches, however, I’ve seen these guys beat everyone else.

Another thing to consider is that they might be sending you to an online travel agent. You might be able to get your own “rebate” by just going to the airline site directly on some occasions.

The rebates also change often. I spoke with the President of the company last week and we both did the same search. For whatever reason, my search showed a rebate of $2 more than his search.

This site isn’t going to replace your existing booking sites, but it’s a good one to add into your toolkit.

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13 Comments on "cFares Might be Worth Checking on Your Next Trip"

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Michael Madison
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Here is another one for the tool box – as price is not everything: dohop.com. dohop is the only flight search engine, to my knowledge, which efficiently and clearly shows alternative ways to get from A to B, by combining multiple airlines in one itinerary. It does this by basing its search on airline schedules and pallying some good logic – and it does fare searches, too. This is especially important and useful when traveling in highly competitive markets and on routes, which are served by multiple low cost carriers. In Europe I have been able to save thousands by… Read more »
A
Guest
Cranky can you please enlighten me as to how these websites make money? I can see the larger (Orbitz, Travelocity, etc.) doing ok with people booking thru them, but I’ve never found ticket prices cheaper through a 3rd party site than going directly through the airlines website. At most I’ll used some of these websites to quickly seach out who is offering the best fares, or who has the non-stop or best flight schedules. Then I always jump back to the airline’s own website to make my final purchase. Years ago I got some backlash from the airlines and poor… Read more »
A
Guest

CF – Thanks for the clarifications. Guess I went a bit over the top when I heard of another player in the whole airfare search buiz. As always you’re the best resource around for any air travel related questions and/or gripes.

Tino
Guest

Very nice article.

As you said, there are plenty of places to book tickets.

I ran into this site the other day (letmebook.com). You send a request and they search for the cheapest airfares for you. It is free. It seems like a good deal because you don’t have to waste time checking lots of sites for the best price.

My regards,
Tino

diane
Guest

I’m a member of cFares and unless they changed the small print since I last look, EACH passenger has to be a member to qualify for the discounted price. So a family of four, at a total cost of $200, would not cover their membership fees in the above example.

http://www.travelsnippetsandmore.com/

Marcus Nyman
Guest

cFares is an interesting concept and, if nothing else, might serve as inspiration for others. Great post.

Martino Matijevic
Guest
Tried and tested the site and just couldn’t figure it out. If you book with travel agencies or traditional airlines, the prices may turn up to be cheaper for members. In most cases, the cheapest price was available by booking directly with the airline. This was especially true when it comes to budget airlnes. Hence, no particular advantage over the likes of Kayak, Sidestep, etc. It is still a great search engine, don’t get me wrong, and as Marcus said it will serve as inspiration for others. However, at http://www.whichbudget.com we still believe that simply directing the client to the… Read more »
Michael Madison
Guest

Martino,

re dohop, it must depend on what date you search, which filters you use and how you sort the results.
I looked from Jan 25 to Feb and a non-stop flight comes up.
Also, when the results display, it seems like it shows prices held in cache, and then goes back to check for updated pricing (most likely depending on how old prices are), and then gives you the option to re-sort.

Jerry Mandel
Guest

It seems that not everyone gets the point you made. cFares.com is another addition to the sites that travellers should utilize….not a replacement for the others. Also to be tried are:Lessno, Mobissimo, Momondo, Opodo, Airfarehawk, itasoftware, Cheapoair, Travelfleamarket.

Michael Madison
Guest

What makes you think / say that?

It seems that was clear from the start, and nothing in the other comments made indicates anything to the contrary.

Just another meandering comment trail….

Jaime
Guest
I’ve used cfares for about 4 months now and have been generally happy. Yes, it does take a while to get paid sometimes, and I’m not exactly sure how their business model works, but I’ve gotten some excellent rebates on the cheapest flights in the world– $59 LAX->SFO becomes … $39… it’s utterly amazing. The only worrisome thing is there is a litany of threads about people not getting paid, but those were all several years ago when they had some $1 enrollment promo. It seems they are flush with cash from some new investors, and they’re good to go.… Read more »
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