For many people, it takes all year long to save up for that special summer vacation, be it a romantic trip for two or an adventure for the whole family. But a lot can happen before summer comes, and that vacation fund can often get trimmed to take care of other necessities.
Thankfully, there are ways to save on your summer vacation — and your favorite credit card may be one of them. Between purchase rewards, travel protections, and fee-free convenience, credit cards can help trim the bill on your summer trip and give you a little extra peace of mind to enjoy it.
Earn Your Way to Free Travel Year-Round
One of the simplest ways to use your credit cards to save on your summer vacation is to simply take advantage of the purchase rewards they offer all year long. You can set aside your cash back savings for extra pocket money on your trip, for instance, or collect travel rewards to redeem for free flights and hotel stays.
To make the most of your rewards, be sure to use the right card for each purchase. For example, those who dine out frequently should use a credit card that offers bonus rewards for dining purchases. There are literally dozens of rewards credit cards out there, making it easy to find cards that offer bonus rewards for just about any type of purchase.
CardRates.com has a list of cards broken down by travel reward type, including some with no annual fees, to help you find the best option based on your needs without eating away at your travel budget.
Receive Protection Against Unexpected Expenses
An oft-overlooked way to save with many credit cards is to take advantage of the built-in purchase and travel protections that come with many credit cards. The right credit card can replace your rental car insurance, reimburse you for unexpected travel delays or cancellations, help you cover the cost of lost luggage, and even replace a lost or stolen mobile phone.
Most forms of credit card protections are offered by the credit card network (Visa, Mastercard, etc.) itself, though many issuers provide additional benefits on certain cards. Keep in mind that the types of protections offered — and the per-incident and per-year coverage caps for those protections — will vary by the individual card.
Save on Each Swipe When Purchasing Abroad
While easy to forget when planning a trip, paying for your purchases abroad may be a bit of a challenge. It can often involve confusing currency conversions, making it easy to overpay if you’re not careful, and may even come with costly conversion fees.
Credit cards can eliminate a lot of the hassle, helping you make foreign purchases as simply and conveniently as a local. Plus, by using a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, you can get all the convenience without any extra conversion costs, saving you a bundle on every meal, tour, and tchotchke you purchase abroad.
Cut the Cost of Getting Away with the Right Credit Card
While it can take months of diligent savings to put away enough for that summer vacation of your winter-weary dreams, there are ways to make that dream a more affordable reality. Not only can the right credit card be a helpful tool for reducing the cost of your vacation, but credit cards can also provide a range of benefits to help give you peace of mind while you travel.
As with any tool, however, credit cards need to be used correctly for the best results. Be sure to pay your credit card bill on time every month, maintain low balances, and never charge more than you can afford to repay in a timely manner. If you do find yourself in over your head in credit card debt, you can seek out a certified credit and debt counselor for help getting back on track.