Book a flight requires you to make many decisions. Which is better: a full-service or a budget airline? What about the basic economy versus the regular economy? Would you rather eat a pretzel or a cookie?

You might be surprised to know that choosing between one round-trip ticket or two one-way tickets is one of the most fundamental decisions.

For domestic flights, the cost is almost the same. However, international flights can be significantly more expensive.

According to the most recent consumer price index data, airfare in January 2023 was 26% less expensive than January 2022. Budget travelers should save as much money as possible.

It is generally more convenient to book round-trip flights for trips with specific start and ends dates. However, there are other factors such as cancellation policies or pricing that could make booking one way more appealing. Everything works differently for flights booked using miles.

Let’s break down the.

Domestic Flights

Round-trip tickets for flights within the United States with the same airline almost always cost less than two one-way tickets.

One caveat: In some cases, booking two one-way flights between different destinations or arrival airports can save you money (or cost you more).

Laura Lindsay, SkyScanner’s travel trends expert, says that fares don’t always have to be booked as return tickets. To save money .”

Many online tools allow you to automatically compare prices and include these itineraries in your search results.

Domestic flights are almost always cheaper than international ones.

International flights

The logic for international tickets is completely different. Round-trip tickets are often cheaper than one-way tickets, and sometimes even more so.

NerdWallet looked at fares on multiple international routes. It found that two one-way tickets are typically 20% cheaper than one roundtrip.

These differences were determined by comparing routes between four U.S.-based airports and two in each destination region.

This is especially true for flights to certain regions such as Africa or Asia. It is more expensive to book two round-trips than one for flights between the U.S.A and any other region.

One-way flights may still be the best option in certain circumstances, such open-ended trips, where you don’t know when you’ll be back. Round-trip fares are still the best option for international travel.

Are roundtrip and one-way flights more affordable if you book with points?

These fares are generally broken up into one-way sections by airlines, which means that there is no significant difference in cost between them. However, there are some caveats:

  • Booking two-way award flights may result in higher taxes. For flights that originate in Europe, Delta Air Lines tends to charge higher fees.

  • Some airlines, like ANA, prohibit one-way award flights.

  • Bookings made with credit card points via a travel portal (i.e. Not transferred to an airline partner) are subject to the same rules as cash fares.

Other considerations

You should also consider the effects of cancellations and changes on these options.

Many airlines have eliminated the need to pay change fees. This makes it much easier to cancel and change both types of tickets. Cancelling one leg of round-trip tickets can be more difficult than cancelling a one-way one.

Sometimes, it might be necessary to call customer service to cancel online. This is to ensure that the change does not cancel any other segments of your flight.

Then there is the issue of simplicity.

Are these trade-offs worth the simplicity of a single itinerary that is managed by one round trip confirmation code? These fares are practical for most travelers, thanks to their simplicity and the fact that round trip tickets are nearly always less expensive than two one way flights.

Maximizing your Rewards

A travel credit card should be able to prioritize what is most important to you. These are our top picks for the top travel credit cards in 2023, as well as those that work best for: