Photo: Tom Cockrem/ Getty Images

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At the Airport
Get: TSA Global Entry Pre-Check
With airports expected to be epically crowded this season, experts agree that getting TSA Global Entry is absolutely worth the $100 application fee. Certain credit cards will actually reimburse the fee; Citi Prestige, American Express Platinum and Citi/AA Advantage Executive Card are three that currently offer this perk.

Skip: The Airline Club Room
Again, it pays to know your plastic. Some credit cards, such as an American Express Platinum Card, will get you gratis entry to certain airline lounges. But if you're paying cash, take the $25 to $50 per person cost and use it to buy a cocktail in an upscale airport restaurant. Since so many airports are investing in their dining options beyond loud sports bars and sad coffee stands, it's easy to find something suitable in the departure terminal, says Cheryl Rosner, travel expert and co-founder of Stayful. And you can stay connected: According to a 2016 survey by wireless software company Devicescape, 90 percent of the 150 biggest airports in the U.S. offer free WiFi.

Get: An Upgrade to First or Business Class
This summer airlines are expected to fly an unprecedented 231 million passengers, according to a forecast from Airlines for America, so upgrades will be extra hard to come by. But that doesn't mean they're impossible, says Rosner. The best way to score one: First, make sure to rack up loyalty by using one credit card and airline for travel. Second, be flexible: It's easier to score two separate seats in first or business class than two seats together.

Skip: Extra legroom
If you can't spring for first class, you may as well squish, say experts who point out that the premium price placed on extra legroom in economy is rarely worth it for short-haul flights, especially if you're paying cash (instead of points) for the privilege. On some carriers the "extra" legroom is a measly 4 additional inches larger than standard economy. Best to choose an airline that has spacious economy seats or use SeatGuru or SeatExpert to choose the roomiest seat within your cabin.