Nearly half of credit card users (49 percent) are likely to take a vacation away from home this year. Nearly the same percentage of those consumers (44 percent) are uncertain about the travel perks and bonuses that their credit cards can afford them, or do not have a travel rewards card, according to a new study conducted by Bonsai Finance on credit card and travel behaviors and attitudes. As such, many valuable travel bonuses and vacation savings are being missed.
The July 2018 online survey asked 400 U.S. credit card holders about their credit card use in general, and how it relates to their travel habits. Results demonstrated that consumers lack awareness of the bonuses, perks and points available to them through their credit cards. The survey findings mean that almost half of Americans taking holidays and vacations are leaving money on the table and missing out on savings that could make their valuable leisure time that much more enjoyable.
According to a 2018 travel trends study by AARP, annual travel budgets vary slightly by age groups. Gen Xers (age 37-52) anticipate an annual vacation budget of $5,434, baby boomers (age 53-71) cite intentions to spend $6,395 for their yearly getaways, and millennials (age 20-36) plan to spend $6,802 toward their wanderlust.
It’s important to note that while 51 percent of respondents say they feel credit cards are the most convenient way to shop while traveling, only 26 percent feel that their cards provide the best way to earn free travel, according to the Bonsai Finance study.
So… what programs, perks and advantages are available to help your leisure travels hit your wallet a little more softly?
Airline Bonus Cards for Frequent Flyers
There are cards for frequent flyers that allow you to collect free airline travel miles through your purchases. Only 35 percent of consumers who reported having a travel rewards card think or are certain that their cards offer airline miles travel benefits. That means that 65 percent of travelers who reported having a travel rewards card are potentially missing out on significant savings in getting to and from their vacation destinations. With the right airline bonus cards, in addition to the miles bonuses, you can also be rewarded for your loyalty to a specific airline with programs such as baggage fee waivers and discounts, free in-flight drinks and snacks, private lounges for loyalty program members and priority boarding.
Universal Travel Program Cards for All Types of Travelers
If you’re the type who likes to change up your method of getting around while on vacation and enjoys all forms of travel and amenities from flying to rail travel to buses as well as varying types of accommodations and dining, universal travel program cards will offer you rewards across the board for both your travel-related and non-travel related spending. Half of consumers (49 percent) indicated that they use their credit cards to reserve rooms; however, only 30 percent of consumers who reported having a travel rewards card think or are certain that they’re eligible for booking discounts or benefits when making those reservations. Since 70 percent of travel rewards card holders are not sure if they have booking discounts or benefits, vacationers loyal to particular hotel chains are potentially missing out on up to 12 times their accommodations’ reservation purchase price in redeemable rewards points.
Cards for International Travelers
Three in 10 consumers plan to travel internationally on vacation in the next two years. Adventuresome vacationers seeking to journey the globe can ensure that they’re not getting dinged with unnecessary currency conversion and/or international fees as well as enforcing an extra layer of identification security by traveling with a credit card intended for international adventures. These cards can significantly reduce or even waive foreign transaction fees altogether. There are also some international cards that add extra security measures such as chips, PINs and even integrated mobile software that allows you to temporarily suspend all transactions on your card in the event that you misplace it or feel that it may have been otherwise compromised.
Cards for Business Travelers
Business owners and employees alike can all benefit from their business travel through myriad fringe benefits offered to those who frequently do their work from the road, or the sky. All of the various aspects of business travel can be combined to build a perks portfolio that can be redeemed to reinvest in your business, or to treat yourself to a holiday for all of your hard work. Business travel credit cards are designed to provide businesspersons with rewards programs for frequent-flyer airfare, extended-stay accommodations, dining and even ground transportation between meetings by way of rental cars or rideshares. Given that 65 percent of consumers use credit cards to cover their meals and dining while out of town, those who frequently eat away from home can tally some significant savings with the right card.
You Could Be Losing Out on up to $310 in Vacation Savings Simply by Using the Wrong Card
All of the various aspects of your own personal travel preferences and style will help you to determine which card is best for you and how to best capitalize on the rewards programs that are available to you to save money on your next vacation adventure. Take into account which airlines you prefer to fly, which hotel chains you’d rather stay with as well as how points are multiplied and redeemed and consider all options across the board, and you’ll surely find the card that’s right for you. At 5 percent cash-back savings offered across the board and a vacation budget of $6,200, one credit card alone could translate into a potential $310 in savings.
So, investigate those perk opportunities, find the bonuses, miles and points that suit you best and maybe even look into spending a few extra days on vacation with the money you’ll save.