Credit cards

How Gen Zers can use maps to plan vacations

As summer arrives, we begin to feel the desire to go on vacation. The sun is out, the holidays are approaching and we are ready to take a break to recharge our batteries. Alas, the costs of this summer trip are increasing rapidly. According to a recent Bankrate poll, 7 in 10 American adults are changing their summer vacation plans accordingly, traveling less, staying local and choosing less expensive destinations.

Still, many adults plan to take at least one trip during the summer season, including 75% of Gen Z. As Gen Z begins to explore their financial independence, here are some tips to help minimize the cost of that upcoming vacation. .

Tip #1: Be open-minded and flexible

You can’t control the economy, especially if it drifts in your favor with recent inflation and rising federal interest rates. But you can control how you approach your vacation mood. Start thinking outside the box. If a beach vacation is too expensive, maybe visit a lake this year. If air fares are too high, treat yourself to a road trip. Take a small group of friends to a rental property instead of a hotel. There are many ways to go on vacation, and now might be a good time to explore other options.

Best card for flexible plans: flat rate cash back

Flat-rate cashback cards are ideal if you want to switch plans in no time. The rewards will always be there, whether you’re taking a flight, going to gas stations, or paying for accommodation. You can also use these rewards after the trip to cover certain expenses on your card, easing the pressure on your balance.

Suggested cards:

Tip #2: Check out card programs

Although people know that credit cards come with travel benefits, many are unaware of the variety of travel benefits you can receive even if you don’t have a premium card. From baggage insurance and car rentals to annual free nights, there’s a lot to look forward to.

Best Card for Travel Plans: Travel Rewards Cards

Travel cards are always going to improve your comfort away from home. These cards often have higher reward rates on flights, rentals and hotels and other benefits that you can enjoy year after year.

Keep your own travel preferences in mind when deciding which card to choose. If you tend to be more comfortable with car travel, look for cards that offer rewards for gas and grocery purchases. If you find yourself at an airport several times a year, a card that grants lounge access can be a great investment.

Suggested cards:

Tip #3: Plan for new requirements

COVID-19 has changed everything, especially the travel landscape. Depending on where you are traveling, you may face higher prices, security mandates or even mandatory tests before arriving. Be sure to research your destination’s health guidelines before booking and, if there is a refund window, double-check before your trip to stay prepared.

The best card for new needs: Premium cards

Nobody can prepare everything. If you find yourself facing unexpected expenses, premium cards often have higher spending limits and 0 intro APR offers that can help you reduce your debt. You can also get benefits like credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, early boarding, and travel insurance. With perks like this, traveling quickly becomes less hassle and more of an adventure.

Suggested card:

Tip #4: Enjoy a laid-back summer vacation

The best part about summer is that it includes low-stakes vacations. Although popular, Memorial Day and 4e of July don’t have the same urgency as maybe Christmas or Thanksgiving. Therefore, planning trips before or after these days is less complicated.

Best card for this: rotating categories

Often rotating category cards change throughout the year for 5% cash back in certain categories that consumers will most likely spend during the season. If you’re trying to look ahead, you can check previous year’s categories to get an idea of ​​what will be available in future seasons.

You’re seeing an increase in cash back rewards in categories like travel, transit, gas stations, restaurants, and live entertainment—an easy way to make your next trip worthwhile. Just be aware that you may need to enable categories every quarter.

Suggested cards:

  • Discover it® Cash Back: 5% cash back after activation on rotating categories each quarter (up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1%), 1% for all other purchases
  • Chase Freedom Flex℠: 5% cash back (up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1%) on groceries, streaming services and online purchases with travel insurance benefits
  • Citi Custom Cash℠ Card: 5% cash back on bonus category purchases activated each quarter (up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1%) and Chase Ultimate Rewards travel purchases

Know when to travel and when to stay home

You may be in the mood for a change of scenery, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to leave. When calculating your decision, consider all the pros and cons to make a decision that fits both your budget and your personal well-being.

Come on, because…

  • This is a good opportunity to spend the points you have earned. If you’ve been saving up rewards points all year and are looking for a way to use them up, vacations are a great option. Not only is this an effective way to cut costs, but it can also allow you to splurge on card perks like hotel or flight upgrades.
  • It’s a great way to make money. Often travel categories get higher rewards with credit cards, especially if the issuer has their own travel portal like Chase or Capital One. This is your chance to earn an extra percent or two in cash back while having fun.
  • You may need a break. If holidays often seem like a luxury, taking time for yourself is a necessity. Burnout doesn’t happen overnight and breaks are essential for balancing life. Even if it’s a staycation, finding time for yourself outside of your normal schedule will be beneficial overall.

Don’t go there because…

  • It’s still expensive. Sometimes our budgets don’t have room for time. It may be best to plan a trip for 6 months or more if your debt is high or you plan to make a major purchase soon. In the long run, this will save you stress while giving you something to look forward to.
  • It’s easy to overspend. If you tend to spend a lot more on vacation than usual, going on vacation could strain your budget when you return. If you carry a balance on your card later, you will incur interest on your card, which has recently increased.

The bottom line

Traveling today can easily be overwhelming, but your credit card may be more useful than you think. If you get a new card, look at the travel benefits that will benefit you. If you have a card, check out points and cash back opportunities on flights, gas and more.

Either way, you have plenty of opportunities to explore the world around you, whether local or international. Vacations are meant to be a time of relaxation, and with some research, you can have your best yet. As with all things personal finance, find what works best for you and go from there.