How to score cheap flights for summer travel

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(CBS) -- With most schools out and pools open, the unofficial start to the summer this week also signals the start of summer travel for many Americans.

While a lot of Americans do not earn paid vacation through their jobs, those who do often don't take advantage of it, CBS' Jill Schlesinger reports. Americans have steadily used fewer vacation days over the past two decades, and that lost time amounts to about $52 billion in benefits left unused, according to analysts from Oxford Economics.

However, financially friendly travel plans could only be a few clicks away. According to the consulting firm Idea Works, Southwest and Jet Blue airlines are at the top of the list when it comes to frequent flier seat availability.

However, if you aren't a frequent flier earner or don't have many points to spare, CBS recommends starting with larger search engines such as Google Flights or Kayak, and then moving on to calling airlines individually because companies will often hold back on letting customers know the best rates available. Check regional airports outside major cities and keep in mind that flight prices can vary depending on the day of the week.

Wallethub reports the best credit card to use to receive travel rewards is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard; the best bonus card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and the one that gives consumers the best hotel rewards is the Starwood Credit Card.