On average, Americans plan to spend $1,947 on holiday travel in 2023.1 Making these plans more affordable requires some strategizing. From finding deals on transportation and accommodations to leveraging credit card rewards, here are some practical tips to help you save money and enjoy your vacations without breaking the bank.
3 ways to cut the cost of holiday travel
1. Plan ahead
If you buy an airline ticket too early, you’ll have more seat choices but may end up paying more in the long run. The sweet spot is to buy your ticket 21 to 115 days before a trip.2 While you can keep this timing in mind, you can also sign up for fare alerts to get the best price. These are offered by many travel websites and airlines to notify you when prices drop for a specific destination or route. Subscribing to these alerts can help you snag great deals when they become available.
2. Be flexible
If your travel dates are flexible, you can take advantage of lower prices by flying on off-peak days or times. Midweek flights are often cheaper than weekend flights, so traveling on these days can result in substantial savings.
When planning your trip, you can also check if there are nearby airports that might offer cheaper flights. Sometimes, flying into a smaller regional airport and using public transportation to reach your final destination can save you money.
3. Pay with a credit card
Using a credit card is a powerful way to recoup some of your holiday travel costs. Here's how to maximize your savings:
- Choose the right credit card. Select a credit card that offers rewards or cash back on travel-related or everyday expenses. Look for cards with no foreign transaction fees if you're traveling internationally.
- Accumulate points or miles. Use your travel rewards credit card for all your travel-related expenses, including flights, accommodations, and dining. The more you use the card, the more points you'll accumulate.
- Take advantage of sign-up bonuses. The best credit cards offer substantial sign-up bonuses. To meet spending requirements, consider applying for a new card when you're planning a big trip. Just be sure you can afford paying the minimum balance due on time, as late payments and fees will offset the benefit of a one-time bonus.
- Redeem points wisely. Once you've accumulated a substantial number of points, redeem them for travel-related expenses, such as airfare or hotel stays. Be on the lookout for promotions or discounts offered by the credit card issuer.
- Earn cash back. A cash back credit card is beneficial because your cash back is automatically applied to your card balance. This is a structured, intentional way to rebound from months of heavy spending.
Making holiday travel more affordable involves careful planning, flexibility, and smart financial choices – including responsible credit card use. General Electric Credit Union (GECU) has a full suite of credit cards so it’s easy to find the perfect match for you. Our Gold3 card allows you to earn unlimited cash back, while our Visa Signature®4 or Platinum5 credit cards are an opportunity to rack up points to redeem on travel, gift cards, and more. Become a member in minutes and get your card in time for the holiday season! You can bank with us if you live or work in the Tri-State.