February 20, 2024

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How To Make Your Vacation More Affordable, According To A CFP

How To Make Your Vacation More Affordable, According To A CFP

Getting away from it all may feel like a necessity but it’s often priced as a luxury. Between unpredictable plane ticket prices and high inflation, even a humble trip can begin to feel like an unbearable financial burden.

But before you give up your dreams of a vacation this year, you should try some cost-saving workarounds that might help you save some money. CNBC Select asked Brian Walsh, a CFP and Senior Manager of Financial Planning at SoFi, to share some of his best tips for making travel more affordable. Read on to learn more about the advice that might save your trip.

1. Plan ahead as much as possible

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Rewards

    $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

    20.49{0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} – 27.49{0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5{0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card also offers a great welcome bonus of 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. Those miles are also worth at least $750 towards travel and can be redeemed for travel-related expenses — like flights, hotels and rental cars — through Capital One Travel.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Information about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

  • Rewards

    5X miles on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 2X miles per dollar on every other purchase

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    N/A for purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    0{0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} at the regular transfer APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

While credit cards that offer rewards for booking travel can give you some extra bang for your buck, it’s generally recommended that if you do use a credit card for purchases — like a vacation — you’ll want to pay off the balance in full each billing cycle. The value of any rewards you may earn, like points or miles, would be wiped away if you start to pay hefty interest charges.

If you’re using credit cards to pay for your trip, just make sure you aren’t digging yourself into debt that would take years to pay off. Some credit cards, like 0{0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} intro APR cards, are designed to make it easier for you to pay off a balance by offering a period of no interest charges for a limited time. Just make sure you have a plan in place to pay off these purchases and don’t overspend, as you will still have to pay back all of the charges you make.

You usually have to be a new cardholder to take advantage of these 0{0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} interest offers. Some of CNBC Select’s favorite 0{0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} APR cards are listed below:

Citi Simplicity® Card

  • Rewards

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0{0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} for 21 months on balance transfers; 0{0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} for 12 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    Introductory fee of 3{0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} ($5 minimum) for transfers completed within the first 4 months of account opening, then up to 5{0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} ($5 minimum).

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

On U.S. Bank’s secure site

  • Rewards

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0{0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} for the first 18 billing cycles on balance transfers and purchases

  • Regular APR

    18.99{0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} – 28.99{0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} (Variable)

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either 3{0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

2. Be flexible with dates and places

“Flexibility is valuable whether it’s the time of day, day of the week, or even what airport you fly into or out of,” Walsh says. “All of that can be easy ways to save on travel.”

Some airports tend to cost more to fly from, and many destinations have peak (and off-peak) seasons. If you’re going to Miami during spring break in March, you’ll likely spend more on flights than you would if you waited until the party dies down around the end of April. The same idea applies if you were going to, say, New Orleans around Mardi Gras or Denver during peak ski season.

Walsh also recommends using Google Flights to compare prices across different airlines for different dates so you can find ways to save.

3. Have a backup plan

Even the most carefully planned out vacations can go off the rails at the last minute. Maybe you contract the stomach flu the day before your flight, or a pipe bursts in your basement or any number of events occur that force you to cancel your vacation. Whatever the reason for your abandoned trip, you don’t want to compound the tragedy by still having to pay for fun you won’t experience.

“Sometimes when people focus on saving money on travel, they run the risk of being penny wise and pound foolish because they don’t protect their trip with travel insurance,” Walsh says.

Some credit cards offer built-in insurance if you pay with the card when you book your plans. The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, for instance, offers trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance in case you need to cancel or cut your vacation short. And for rental vehicles, the American Express® Gold Card provides coverage for damage to or theft of a rental vehicle.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Rewards

    Earn 5X total points on flights and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases plus, 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2025

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

American Express® Gold Card

On the American Express secure site

  • Rewards

    4X Membership Rewards® points at Restaurants (plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months of card membership

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

4. Consider using cash

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Bottom line

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.  

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.