Financing Your Summer Vacation in Style

Summer vacations often become the coveted gem glistening ahead after a year’s worth of grueling workweeks. Everything about a summer getaway gives us a happy-go-lucky feeling inside…except maybe the funding necessary to make it fly. Cost effectively getting the most out of your summer vacation can be quite easy with a little bit of careful planning and some credit-conscious choices.

Sometimes the best way to get what you want is to flat-out ask for it. When reserving lodging accommodations by phone, be sure to tell the hotel clerk that you desire the best rate they can offer you. Disclose how many nights you wish to stay, bearing in mind that a weeklong stay often warrants a better rate than a few nights alone. If you hold a discount card such as AAA or AARP, be sure to mention that after you receive a quote for your lodging. Finally, do your best to verify that you have received the best rate by checking out the online reservations.

Different credit card programs may help you save money or earn special rewards such as free nights at various hotels, Frequent Flyer miles and more.

If you plan to drive to your vacation destination, get fuel savings savvy with a credit card specially designed to save you bucks at the pump. Listed below are just a few credit cards currently on the market with fuel savings benefits.

Save money on fuel:
+ AAA Platinum Plus® Visa® Card
– allows cardholders to earn up to five percent cash back on all fuel purchases as well as a one percent rebate on all AAA Travel purchases such as cruises and tours when booked through AAA Travel.

+ The Chase PerfectCard™ – offers six percent rebate on gas for the first 90 days, three percent after introductory period and one percent on all purchases where major credit cards are accepted.

+ The Chase Ultimate Cash Award(sm) MasterCard® – offers earnings of up to five percent on gasoline and groceries, drug stores and home improvement stores, as well as up to two percent anywhere else MasterCard® is accepted.

+ Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Card – offers up to five percent cash back at gas stations, supermarkets and drugstores, as well as one percent back on all other purchases.

+ The Discover® Platinum Gas Card – allows cardholders to save up to five percent cash back on gasoline purchases and up to one percent cash back on other purchases.

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Flying is often the quickest and most convenient way to get from A to B, so travelers who may opt to take flight from home to paradise should look into using a frequent flyer rewards card long before the vacation even creeps up.

Earn free airline miles:
+ Chase Travel Rewards® Platinum MasterCard®
– offers consumers a chance to earn one point for every dollar spent, and the option to redeem points for auto rentals, cruises, flights and hotel stays.

+ Citi® Bronze® AAdvantage® MasterCard® – allows cardholders to earn one AAdvantage® mile for every $2 spent, redeemable on more than 25 popular international airlines. Consumers also earn 5,000 bonus miles after their first purchase.

+ Continental Airlines World MasterCard® from Chase® – offers cardholders the chance to earn one OnePass® mile for every dollar spent and double OnePass® miles for shopping at select stores, among other bonuses and benefits. An $85 annual fee is applicable.

+ Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card – gives consumers the chance to earn airline miles in a variety of ways through normal spending habits. Though there is no annual fee for the first year, an $85 fee will be charged thereafter.

+ Value Platinum Visa® Card from Chase
– offers cardholders a chance to earn one Value Mile for each dollar spent, to be redeemed on major airlines with no blackout dates.

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Countless options await in terms of your sleeping accommodations. If you and your travel companions do not intend to set up at a campground or crash at a relative’s or friend’s place, hotel accommodations make great living quarters for the duration of your stay. Save yourselves some money either now or in the future by earning free hotel stays with specially designed credit cards. Here are just a few that might be of interest.

Earn free hotel accommodations:
+ Bank of America Choice Privileges – allows cardholders to earn 15 points when charging nights at participating Choice Privileges hotels and two points on other purchases. Points may be applied to free nights at participating hotels, including Clarion®, Comfort Inn®, Comfort Suites®, MainStay Suites®, Quality® and Sleep Inn®.

+ Hilton HHonors Platinum Credit Card (American Express) – allows consumers to earn 5 HHonors bonus points for every dollar you spent at Hilton HHonors Hotels and 3 HHonors bonus points for every other eligible dollar spent.

+ Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card (American Express) – offers cardholders a chance to earn free hotel stays at places such as Westin® Hotels & Resorts, Sheraton® Hotels & Resorts, Four Points® by Sheraton and more. The card requires no annual fee during the first year, but subsequent years will result in a $30 annual charge.

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Additional savings tips:
+ Contact a local AAA agency prior to your departure and order your free “TripTik” for wherever your vacation destination might be. You will gain valuable maps and information to help you plan your vacation transportation via automobile from departure to the return trip home. Also ask for Tour Books®, CampBooks® and AAA Road Maps.

+ Use coupons whenever applicable. Shop for what’s on sale in terms of groceries and if at all possible, make attempts to combine coupons with sale items.

+ Always inquire about a traveler’s discount with your AAA membership card or AARP membership.

+ Prior to your departure, save up spending money for your vacation so that you don’t have to put every single purchase on plastic. Earning rewards points really works well for saving money, but be careful to avoid burning too big a hole in your pocket with the ease of credit card shopping.

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With some careful planning and a few spending and saving strategies, you and your travel companions can have the times of your lives without paying for it for years to come. Just exercise some discipline when swiping the credit card on vacation, for a few martinis too many may loosen up the wallet more than you’d prefer once you return to the daily grind!

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