Known for its user-friendly interface and extensive search options, Google Flights is one of the most popular platforms for searching and booking plane tickets. Users can search for flights based on specific airlines, departure times, and even airports in the surrounding area — and can filter by number of layovers, flight duration, and price range to snag the cheapest tickets.
Google recently rolled out yet another feature to its flight price tracking service: Price Guarantee. The pilot program — which was initially launched in 2019 before the pandemic cut it short — is available on select flights and promises to reimburse customers if the price of their flight drops after they book it.
But how exactly does the Price Guarantee program work, and can it really help you save money? Here's what you need to know.
How Does the Price Guarantee Program Work?
When you book a plane ticket through Google Flights, the flight price tracker will monitor the price of that flight until the departure date. If the price of the flight drops after you have booked it, Google Flights will notify you via email and issue a refund for the difference in price.
According to Google, its Price Guarantee will "pay you the difference between the flight price when you book and the lowest ticket price." In order to receive a refund, the price difference must be greater than $5, and customers can get up to $500 back per calendar year on a limit of three bookings made through Google Flights' Price Guarantee. Typically, this happens "after the first flight in the booked itinerary has taken off," Google says.
A few caveats: The service only applies to flights booked through Google Flights, and does not cover flights booked with another provider. The service also has a few restrictions: It only applies to flights with certain airlines and booking classes, and does not cover changes in taxes or fees. In addition, only one-way and roundtrip flights that depart from the U.S. are eligible for Price Guarantee.
Is the Price Guarantee Program Worth It?
While Google Flights' Price Guarantee can be a helpful tool, it won't always translate into hefty savings. Here are some things to consider:
The likelihood of a price drop: Google Flights' Price Guarantee service only applies if the price of the flight drops after you have booked it — making it essential to assess the likelihood of a price drop before deciding to use the service. If the flight you are considering departs during a peak season or is in high demand, the chances of a price drop may be slim to none.
The cost of the flight: If the flight you are booking is relatively inexpensive, the potential savings from using the Price Guarantee service may not be worth the effort. However, if the flight is costly, even a small price drop can result in significant savings.
The hassle factor: While Google's Price Guarantee may save you some money, it also involves some effort on your part — in order to receive the difference in price, you'll need to set up Google Pay. But if you're willing to download the Google Pay app, the service may be worth it.
How Do I Get the Difference Back?
Wait to be notified: After you book your flight, the service will monitor the price of that flight until the departure date. If the price of the flight drops after you have booked it, Google will notify you via email.
Check the fine print: Make sure that your flight is eligible for the Price Guarantee service. Remember that the service only applies to flights booked through Google Flights, and will not cover tickets that were booked with another provider. The service also has other restrictions: You must use a billing address and phone number registered in the U.S. when booking, and any changes in taxes and fees won't be covered.
Download Google Pay: If you receive a notification that the price of your flight has dropped after booking, you can claim the difference via Google Pay. Make sure you've downloaded the Google Pay app within 90 days of the departure of your first flight, and that you are able to sign in with the same Google account used to book your flight. It can take up to 48 hours for the money to be deposited in your account.
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Editor's note: This article has been revised since publication to clarify that customers do not need to submit a claim in order to receive the price difference via Google Pay.