Paying for vacation can take a big bite out of your budget, but you may be able to get some relief from travel, dining, sightseeing and other expenses by reaching for your credit card. Depending on the type of card you have, and the benefits that it offers, you could save hundreds of dollars on your travel.
If you've got enough points accumulated on your credit card to pay for airline tickets, congratulations! But even if you haven't yet built up your points total so that you can pay for your whole ticket to your vacation destination, there are often financial advantages to using your credit card when you book your flight. For example:
Don't have an airline miles credit card? Don't worry. If you have any type of rewards card, you may find that the points you've accumulated will help pay some of your expenses while you're on the road.
You could be eligible for a discount of up to 40 percent on the price of your rooms at certain Hilton hotels if you have an American Express Gold Card and use it to book your stay. You may also find a great deal on a cruise by checking out the American Express website, or find tickets (at a discount) for special concerts and sporting events.
Other reward cards may give you the option of converting any earned points into gift certificates good at hotels, chain restaurants, gas cards or cash. You may find that you've earned enough points to pay for a good part of your trip.
You're probably aware that your auto insurance policy provides some of the insurance coverage that you'll need when you rent a car, so you may be able to save some money by waiving the rental company's insurance.
But did you know that many credit cards offer backup protection to that insurance? If you have an accident in a rental car and your insurance pays all expenses except the deductible, the protection that you have through your credit card may help you cover that deductible.
A credit card makes life much easier when you're traveling in other countries, and it can also make your trip less expensive as well. Credit card companies generally offer better exchange rates on any purchases you make while overseas. Until recently that advantage was offset by the three percent foreign transaction fees that many credit card issuers charged on each purchase. With more and more credit card issuers waiving that fee, however, using your credit card for those purchases makes real economic sense.
Your credit card agreement will usually spell out what benefits (like car rental insurance) your card provides. If you don't have that agreement, or if you want to find out if there are any other travel-related deals that apply, call the customer service number on the back of your card and ask.
If you're thinking of getting a new credit card in the coming year, you may want to look for one that offers lots of bonus points on airline flights or other travel-related rewards.
And consider this--there's one other money-saving advantage to using your credit card while you're on vacation this year. If you're earning airline cards or points on your vacation purchases, you've already got a head start on next year's vacation fund.