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Booking Strategy

How to Lock in a Cheap Airfare With Minimal Commitment

Found an amazing flight deal but don’t have the money to pay for it right now? A new start-up lets you buy plane tickets without paying the full cost upfront — no credit card required.

Ever found an amazing flight deal, but couldn’t take advantage of it because you didn’t have the funds for it right away? A new start-up called Airfordable will let you buy flights on layaway, so you can snag a cheap ticket by putting just a third of the cost down—no credit card required.

This service is designed more for people who don’t have a credit card (it’s pretty hard to buy a flight without one), and flyers looking to book a ticket far in advance of their travels (when fares might be cheapest) over those who want to take advantage of a amazing flash sale, since the ticket buying process won’t be instantaneous.

To buy a ticket on Airfordable, you have to upload a screenshot of the flight that you want to take (including price), choose a payment plan, and pay a 30 percent deposit. You’ll only be given your e-ticket information after you’ve made all of the payments. If you can’t pay in time for your flight, your ticket will be cancelled and you’ll lose your down payment. If you’ve made additional payments, you’ll get those back in the form of a partial Airfordable credit. Still, that’s probably a better cancellation deal than most airlines will give you.

Airfordable charges a 20 percent fee on the total cost of the ticket, but does not charge interest. You can only buy flights of up to $500 on Airfordable, and the travel dates must be at least two months away.

In most cases, you’ll be better off using a credit card to buy a flight. (Many offer reward points, travel insurance, etc. that you’ll be missing out on.) However, if you have bad credit or no credit card, Airfordable is a good option if you want to buy your flight on layaway—especially since they don’t check your credit.

Would you put a flight on layaway?

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Caroline Morse is a Senior Editor at SmarterTravel. Follow her on Twitter @CarolineMorse1 and Instagram@travelwithcaroline.

By Caroline Morse Teel

Unfortunately for her bank account, Principal Editor Caroline Morse Teel is powerless to resist a good flight deal. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Caroline joined Boston-based SmarterTravel in 2011 after living in Ireland, London, and Manhattan. She's traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes, and bungeed off bridges in the pursuit of a good story. She loves exploring off-the-beaten path destinations, anything outdoorsy, and all things adventure.

Her stories have also appeared online at USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo, Boston.com, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog, and others.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Earplugs. A good pair has saved my sleep and sanity many times!"

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.

Travel Motto: "Don't be boring."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle (when the first class private suite isn't available)."

E-mail her at cmorse@smartertravel.com.