Hopper Review: Find Cheap Flights with the Help of AI

Smart algorithms with 95% accuracy keep you informed of when — and when not to — book your next flight.
Last updated Mar 3, 2020 | By Robin Kavanagh
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Who doesn’t want to get the best price on airfare? Although everyone loves a great deal, finding one takes a lot of time and effort. You may subscribe to the idea that it’s cheaper to fly on certain days of the week. Or maybe you monitor several different travel websites and apps to be alerted when prices change.

The founders of Hopper had been there and done that, and they ended up asking the question: what if a single app could give an accurate prediction of the best time to buy a ticket? They used this supposition to create Hopper, a travel app that uses artificial intelligence to give you not only timely insight as to when to book a flight to get the best price, but also when not to spend your hard-earned money. Here is a closer look at Hopper and how it’s making it easier than ever to find cheap flights.

In this Hopper review:

What is Hopper?

If you’ve traveled before, you know that making reservations far in advance helps keep costs down. But figuring out exactly when is optimal to book has always been a challenge. That’s where Hopper comes in.

This app was launched in 2009 with the sole focus of predicting the best time to find the most affordable airline fares for a specific trip. Just enter some information about where and when you’d like to fly and the app will give you advice on the best times to book. It also tells you when to wait, sends updates through push notifications, and allows you to watch specific trips.

How does Hopper do it? It uses proprietary algorithms and artificial intelligence programming to make its price predictions, which it claims are 95% accurate for flights up to a year in advance. The Hopper website keeps a running, real-time total of how much money it has helped customers save. At the time of publication, it was more $2.8 billion in savings across the 124 million trips planned using the app.

When you’re ready to book a flight, you can do so through the app and its secure payment system. To simplify things, you can also add and save credit cards and track your booking details using the trips feature. If you’re not ready to book right away, you can set up a watch, which will keep tabs on the flight you searched and send you notifications when prices change.

How to use Hopper

Hopper is available for both Android and iOS. Go to either the App Store or Play Store and search for “Hopper.” Tap the “Install” button to download and install the app on your phone.

Once the app is installed, find it in your list of apps and tap to open. You’ll be asked to either login or create an account. If you don’t have an account, follow the prompts to create one.

Once you’re signed in, you can search for flight information. Start with a departing airport, a destination, and the number of travelers. After setting a destination, you’ll get a calendar listing of color-coded fares: green for least expensive; orange for the next level up; orange/red for the next most-expensive; and red for most expensive.

From there, you can play with dates and see what range of flights are available. When you select a specific range of dates, you’ll be provided with the current lowest price available, as well as an assessment as to whether this price is good or if you should wait. You’ll also find predictions for when the prices will go up or down, plus a time frame for booking.

If you want to watch these dates, you can tap “Watch This Trip” and get updates about prices and when to book. If you like what you see, you can click on “View Flights” to choose specific departure dates, times, and carriers. You’ll be given options to choose different fare classes and passengers for each ticket. You’ll also be asked whether you want to purchase a refund option in case you need to cancel your reservation.

After all of these selections are made, you’ll get a summary of the total charges for your tickets and can add a method of payment or choose a saved credit card. Once your payment is finalized, you’ll be able to track your booking through the Trips feature at the bottom of the screen.

Use the Ultimate Rewards portal to save on airfare

Although Hopper can help you get a good deal on airfare, you may be able to save even more by using the travel booking tools offered by your credit card. If you’re a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred customer, you can use Hopper to track prices and figure out when to book, then login to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to purchase your flights.

First, you may find the prices offered through Chase Ultimate Rewards match or are better than what you find on Hopper. Second, you can use your Ultimate Rewards points to pay for some or all of your airfare. This results in even more savings, and here’s why. When a Sapphire Preferred cardholder books a flight with points through the Ultimate Rewards portal, each point is worth 1.25 cents. For Sapphire Reserved customers, each point is worth 1.5 cents. If you multiply these values by the thousands needed to pay for an airline ticket, you can rack up substantial savings.

This is one of the reasons the Chase Sapphire cards are among the most popular travel rewards cards around. The Sapphire Preferred card is the entry-level option that gives massive benefits for a low $95 annual fee. You can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, you earn 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases. The Sapphire Preferred also offers travel, car rental, and purchase protection, as well as no foreign transaction fees.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is for frequent and discerning travelers who like to have some luxury while on the road. Although the annual fee is a high $550, you get a $300 annual credit for travel expenses and 50% more value on points in the Chase travel portal. Reserve members earn 3X points for travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and at restaurants. Plus, cardholders get complimentary airport lounge access through Priority Pass Select; free upgrades and perks through the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection; a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years; and all the perks of the Preferred card.

FAQs about Hopper flights

Is the Hopper app trustworthy?

The app has been around since 2009 and has served millions of customers. Hopper is certified as an accredited travel agency and provides multiple layers of protection for your personal and financial information.

Does the Hopper app cost money?

The app itself is free. You may be asked whether you want to add a $5 tip with your purchase or add coverage that will enable you to collect a partial refund if you cancel your trip.

Does Hopper have hidden fees?

Hopper does have fees, but they are for optional services, such as refund protection.

Can you choose your seats on Hopper?

You can’t make seat selections through the app. However, you may be able to with the airline your tickets are issued from, depending on the carrier’s policies and the class of ticket.

How does Hopper make money?

Hopper asks customers if they want to leave a $5 tip after booking a flight. The fee is optional and users can opt out during the booking process. Hopper also gets a 1-4% commission from the airlines for tickets booked using its system. This business model resulted in generating $15 million in revenue during 2017, which has grown to a current estimate of $38.1 million in annual revenue.


The final word on Hopper

I like Hopper as a research tool for my trips. I’ve used it while researching flights for places I plan to go in 2020, but I haven’t booked with it yet. Thanks to the information I got from the app regarding a trip I need to make in April, I was able to find a nice low fare. But, because I’m also a Sapphire Preferred customer, I booked my flight through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and used my points to reduce my fare considerably.

The moral of the story here is that whenever you’re shopping for flights, use the right tools for your specific situation to get the best deals. It may be one, two, or several that get you to the lowest bottom line.

#1 Travel Rewards Card

Benefits

  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 3x points on grocery purchases — up to $1,500 per month (ends June 30, 2020)
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits