After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 went into effect, tax deductions for job interview expenses were put on ice through 2025. In other words: job seekers were previously able to deduct some/all expenses related to job interviews (e.g., transportation, accommodations) but now none of these expenses are tax-deductible between 2018 and 2025.
The freeze on this deduction was an unfortunate blow for people hoping to get a job outside of their immediate, drivable areas. Some employers reimburse a portion (or entirety) of job interview-related travel expenses, but if you happen to receive a call-back for an interview without reimbursement offered to candidates, here are some of your options for saving time and money while searching far and wide for a new job.
Request a Video Interview
If you’ve only interviewed over the phone so far and the person(s) in charge of filling the open position want to call you in for an in-person interview, consider asking if they’d accept a video interview instead. This way, they can engage with you face-to-face and get a better sense of how you would be as an employee in their company without needing to invest a lot of time and money physically traveling to their headquarters.
Skype or Zoom interviews aren’t necessarily the norm (yet), but many companies are increasingly open to video interviews to ensure they’re casting wide nets beyond the immediate vicinity to attract top talent. These types of interviews are especially useful for assessing the candidate’s ability to manage remote work and video conferencing, which are in-demand skills in a progressively tech-dominated workforce.
Assess How Much You Want or Need the Job
If the company won’t cover your interview travel expenses or accept a video interview, then your next step would be making the tough decision whether the job is worth the costs. If you’re not wowed by the company (check its Glassdoor reviews first), the travel expenses are too exorbitant for your budget and/or you’re not entirely sure if you want to live in that new city, then perhaps the better option would be to pass on the job and wait for a better opportunity to come along.
However, if you really need a new job, can afford to cover your own travel expenses and/or you’re certain you love the area more than where you currently live (especially if you’d be moving from an area with a high cost of living to an area with a low cost of living), then paying a few hundred dollars out of pocket may be worth it.
Regardless of what you ultimately decide, it’s important to remember that the job offer is never guaranteed so there’s always a risk that you could be shelling out thousands of dollars for job interview travel without receiving an offer in the end.
Use Credit Card Points or Miles
If you really want or need the job you’ve applied for and want to proceed with covering your own interview travel expenses, then save money by booking flights or accommodations with credit card rewards.
It’s not the best use of your points or miles, but it can significantly reduce the financial impact of interview expenses if you have enough points to cover a flight and/or hotel for at least one or two interviews.
Prioritize Convenience Over Cost
Saving money shouldn’t be your #1 goal at all times, especially when it comes to job interviews. If you’re stressed about performing well in the interview, then booking the cheapest motel room 45 minutes across town may be more of a hassle than it’s worth in monetary savings. Instead, book something close to the place where you’ll be interviewed to minimize stress over timing, traffic, and other potential issues that could arise.
The same goes for air travel: if you’re within 5-9 hours’ driving distance, is it really worth driving there and back if a 1-2 hour flight would’ve been a much better use of your time? If the location is much farther away and you have no choice but to fly, then should you book the cheapest flight at the worst possible time or book a slightly pricier flight that aligns better with your sleep schedule and/or low-traffic commute times?
It’s important not to go overboard with job interview travel expenses, but pinching pennies in ways that could stress you out more – and negatively impact your interview performance – isn’t worth it in most cases.
Rent an Airbnb
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be on the lookout for options that are both convenient and cost-effective. For instance, why pay $150/night for a hotel room if you just need a place to sleep when you could rent a local’s private room for less than $50/night? With an Airbnb, you’ll still have access to a bed, bathroom, and other basic amenities for a fraction of the price you’d pay at a hotel.
In addition to more location flexibility, you’ll also be able to explore the neighborhood and community surrounding your potential new workplace, which can give you valuable insight on whether the area is truly a good fit for you and your family.
Request a Signing Bonus
If you ultimately get a job offer and it’s not an entry-level position, you may be able to negotiate a signing bonus to cover your interview and relocation expenses. This is highly dependent on the type of job/industry and the company’s standard practices, but it’s worth requesting if there’s even the slightest chance you could recoup some of your interviewing expenses.
It can be disappointing to hear a potential employer say you’re on the hook for expenses incurred while traveling to a job interview, but it’s not the end of the world (even with the tax deduction freeze). There are plenty of ways to save on your own and if the job is worth it – in terms of a higher salary, better benefits, promotion opportunities, location, cost of living in the area, etc. – then crunch some numbers and develop a strategy to give it your best shot without emptying your wallet in the process.