Your Location Data May Be Used to Set Pricepoint for Airfare and Other Items

Something we often have to worry about is how our data is being used or manipulated. What we are finding out now in a new study is that not only is our location data being used, it’s being used to manipulate the pricepoint for things we buy such as airfare. You might be paying more just because of where you live.

New Study

This study was conducted by TheBestVPN, and it showed that you could pay nearly double, or possibly even more, for what you are purchasing because of your location. It’s perceived that you have the ability to pay more or less just based on where you live and your assumed income.

This is known as “dynamic pricing.” Businesses charge based on how much you are perceived to be able to pay. But it can also be considered price discrimination, and like any form of discrimination, may not be favorable, as the price could be based on race, age, religion, gender, etc.

I’m more likely to get lesser service at a restaurant because I’m a woman, and servers assume I am less likely to tip well than the man sitting at the table next to me. That may or may not be the case, but that’s the assumption.

As The Next Web points out, Apple Music subscriptions cost differently based on location. In the U.S. the price of a monthly subscription is $9.99, but it’s $13.33 in the U.K. Those in India pay only $1.75 per month.


Booking airfare can also change pricepoint. It doesn’t just matter where you’re traveling from and to. It also depends on where you are when you book the trip, which could explain a lot. The prices of airfare change often, weekly, daily, and it’s a matter of getting the right price at the right time.

But apparently it also matters where you’re located when you book. Cross-country flights can differ as much as $1000.

Make Sure It Doesn’t Happen to You

There are things you can do to be sure you aren’t paying based on your location. Obviously, if you’re in an area where it’s lower, you don’t want to change it, but if you’re in a more expensive location, you do want to change this and can by following these tips that will help prevent all discrimination pricing.

  • Disable Location Tracking Now that you know how your location tracking an be used against you, if you don’t need it on, turn it off when you’re buying something to be sure your location isn’t being used to set that pricepoint.
  • Disable Third-Party Cookies There are many reasons to disable third-party cookies, and this is yet another one. Online retailers can charge you more for their product or service based on your location that they can learn from third-party cookies.
  • Switch Browsers and Devices Prince can also change from device to device, desktop to mobile, and browser to browser. If you don’t like the price you see, switch your browser, switch from your laptop to your smartphone. Keep trying to see if you can find a better price.
  • Go Incognito Get rid of your online visibility by going incognito. If you don’t want to disable your cookies because you don’t want to be logged out, it can still help you not be tracked so that the pricepoint won’t be affected.
  • Use a VPN This is another way to mask your location. You can even use a VPN to make yourself appear as if you’re in another location, so not only are you not paying a higher price, you can also make yourself appear to be in a location where you could be paying less.


Paying a Fair Price

You shouldn’t have to pay more because of where you’re located, just as you shouldn’t have to pay more based on other discriminations. Yet it happens. You can follow these tips to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

Have you noticed this happening to you before? Have you noticed you’re paying more or less depending on your location data? Let us know in the comments section below.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.