By: Darryl Montgomery
We all want to make the most of our vacation. Whether you’re maximizing every minute of the day – visiting museums, exploring historic sites, indulging in local foods – or finding ways to stretch your vacation dollar for a once-in-a-lifetime experience or to visit a far-away destination, it’s important to make the most of a well-deserved break.
Vacations are good for you and they can also be expensive. For more than one-third of Americans, the cost of a vacation will be one of their largest expenses in the coming year, according to Wells Fargo’s recent “How America Buys and Borrows” survey. How can you avoid a ‘break the bank’ vacation and still make the most of your time away? One option may be sitting in your wallet: your rewards credit card. Read on for five tips to help you turn your vacation dreams into reality.
Understand how your rewards card works
Read the terms and conditions thoroughly and understand how you can earn and redeem rewards. Some cards offer cash back while others offer points. Some credit cards allow customers to redeem for a variety of options, while other cards – such as those offered by some airlines and hotels – connect you to reward redemptions for their specific product. Know what, if any, fees or charges occur when redeeming and whether your rewards ever expire.
Use rewards you’ve already earned
Some consumers track rewards and redeem them regularly. Others rarely think about them. If you fall in the second category, check your rewards balance. You may have earned enough rewards to offset vacation costs like airfare, hotel stays or gift cards to merchants you plan on visiting while vacationing. Alternatively, you may prefer to redeem your rewards as an account credit and use the cash while traveling.
Earn rewards for the money you’ll spend on vacation
The average vacationer spends just over $1,300 for travel, including food, lodging and transportation, estimates the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By responsibly using your rewards credit card for vacation costs, rewards can add up. You can redeem them later – perhaps, for next year’s vacation!
Understand travel-related benefits that come with your credit card
Traveling with your credit card offers a safer way to pay because if a card is lost or stolen, a quick call to your bank can stop charges to your account. In addition to rewards programs, many cards offer little known perks that may help make your travel smoother. For example, some credit cards offer 24/7 concierge services that can help you plan your trip or even make dinner reservations. Your card may also offer rental car insurance, no-fee currency conversions, competitive currency conversion rates, and travel protections like insurance for lost or damage luggage. To learn more about these benefits, read your credit card agreement.
Look for special travel offers from your rewards program
Check to see if your credit card offers special travel deals that come with additional rewards from specific retailers. To learn more about available offers, cardholders can typically check their rewards program website. To review Wells Fargo’s available offers, visit www.MyWellsFargoRewards.com and www.MyWellsFargoRewardsEMM.com.
As you plan to make the most of your vacation, keep budgeting and money management basics in mind. Be sure to let your bank know you’re going out of town, and consider using free tools – like online banking or your bank’s mobile app – to stay on top of your finances. That way you can kick back and enjoy your time away.
Darryl Montgomery is Wells Fargo regional president for Greater Houston. There are 185 Wells Fargo Community Banking stores and more than 350 ATMs in the region.