The summer months mark increase vacations for many Americans. Despite the current economic conditions causing many to make alternative travel plans this year, most are still planning to take a family trip or two. Going against counterintuitive wisdom is the potential to use credit cards to save money on vacations – but here are some tips to do just that!
First, you’ll need a cash rewards credit card that gives you cash-back on all purchases. You don’t necessarily want a travel rewards card, because some are too limiting in how you can redeem your rewards and travel benefits. Instead, select a quality cash back credit card and use it to get money back for everything you buy on the card. The money you get in “cash back” can be used toward the cost of your vacation. Ideally, you’ll use a rewards credit card for several months in advance of your vacation and charge all of your monthly purchases and expenses to the card (being careful to pay it off in full at the end of each month to avoid interest and finance charges). This enables you to get the most out of your cash back program.
Once you’ve decided where you’ll be taking your vacation, investigate the location thoroughly. Use the internet to find coupons for local restaurants and for museums or other sources of entertainment you expect to use while you’re vacationing. If there are certain places you would like to visit that don’t list coupons or discounts on their websites, get on the phone and call to see if they have any discounts available. Once you get to your hotel or campground of your travel destination, look for a local phone book- many phone books include several pages of coupons for local establishments.
When traveling, think about what items you can bring along with you instead of buying. Often you can pack a cooler with snacks and drinks and sandwiches and skip buying fast food and convenience food on the trip. If traveling by plane or train, you can also pack snacks and sandwiches to avoid paying costly travel expenses for mediocre meals.
Remember, a family vacation is more about spending time with your family and enjoying one another than it is about the price of the vacation. You can have a good time on a limited budget, and use your credit card cash back to help alleviate some of the expenses. If you use your credit card while you’re on vacation, be careful not to overspend and then plan on redeeming some of your cash back to pay off the card when you return home.