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How To Pay For Your Summer Vacation With Credit Card Bonuses

Haven't been saving points at all? There's still a way you can save big. How? Credit card bonuses. If you sign up for a credit card and quickly qualify for its welcome offer, you can significantly reduce the cost of your summer travels.
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Summer is upon us, and many people are making vacation plans to enjoy the weather and soak-in the sun. Airlines for America estimates that U.S. Airlines will carry a record 231 million passengers this vacation season. Whether you plan to fly to the end of the world, or to the next town over, it's a well-known fact that credit card points can help offset the cost of your trip. Ideally, you would have been saving up miles or points throughout the year. That way you can easily pay for a vacation, and save hundreds of dollars.

Haven't been saving points at all? There's still a way you can save big. How? Credit card bonuses. If you sign up for a credit card and quickly qualify for its welcome offer, you can significantly reduce the cost of your summer travels.

The Biggest Savings: Airline Card Bonuses

If your vacation involves a plane ride, take a look at airline credit cards. Generally, these have the best bonuses around. It's not uncommon to save anywhere between $500 and $700 with the right welcome offer. First, identify the carrier you expect to fly with, and then look at their offers. You'll need to pay close attention to the requirements for the bonus. Some will require you to spend upwards of $3,000 within 3 months to qualify. If you know you can't reach that, don't bother signing up.

You should specifically look for credit cards that offer companion tickets as a welcome offer. Companion tickets are the holy grail of credit card bonuses. They act as a "buy one get one free" deal on airline fares. Companion tickets can potentially lead to savings of over a thousand dollars, depending on the type of ticket you buy. Note that some aren't exactly free, and require you to put down $99 for the extra ticket. Even in those instances, however, you will end up saving big.

When Cash Back Bonuses Make Sense

Cash back credit cards, even the best ones, have relatively low bonuses. While airline-branded cards can get you bonuses as high as $700, cash back offers rarely push $150.

Despite this, they shouldn't be discounted. Cash back credit cards can still help you save on upcoming travel plans - especially in two scenarios.

  1. If you don't spend enough money to qualify for the big bonuses. As we mentioned above, while airline sign-up offers are lucrative, they often require you to spend a lot of money to qualify. Cash back bonuses, on the other hand, will typically not require you to spend more than $500/$1,000. This comes in especially handy for those with limited time. For most people, it will be easier to quickly spend $500 than $3,000 - especially if you're hoping to earn the bonus within a month.
  • Cash back bonuses can be applied retroactively. In order for them to be effective, airline bonuses need to be earned before you paid for your vacation. This is because you can't use your miles to pay for tickets you already bought. When you earn a cash back bonus, it's like getting money put in your hand. You can do with it what you please. Many, for example, will allow you to use the bonus as statement credit. This way you can use the card to pay for things on your vacation, and then erase them from your bill with the statement credit.