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A quarter of all Americans plan to travel during the 2018 holiday season, according to a survey of more than 1,000 adults conducted by Experian in October. The survey also found that Americans expect to spend an average of $930 on holiday travel expenses this year, an increase of 61% from the previous year.
Among those hitting the road, Gen X-ers and millennials plan to travel the most: 38% of millennials and 35% of Gen X-ers said they typically travel during the holiday season. Only 16% of Baby Boomers and 11% of Gen Z members said it was common for them to travel during the holiday months.
As the number of Americans traveling each year has increased since 2016, and the amount they spend on gifts and travel continues to grow, more people are finding unexpected travel expenses to be one of the biggest causes of stress during the holidays. According to Experian's survey, 13% of Americans reported that unexpected travel costs were one of the most frustrating holiday expenses. Half of those surveyed reported having spent more money on holiday travel than they did on gifts.
One way to deal with expensive holiday travel and avoid the frustration of unexpected costs is to use a credit card to maximize rewards and plan for certain types of purchases.
Check out these credit cards that can help you save on travel expenses during the holidays:
Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year
Ongoing APR: 17.99% to 24.99% variable, depending on your creditworthiness
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a good card for consumers who spend a lot of money on travel and dining. Cardholders earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining purchases worldwide and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.
Cardholders also benefit from no international transaction fees while traveling overseas and get 25% more value when they redeem bonus points for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.
Apply now to earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening—a $625 value when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
How You Can Use It During the Holidays: If you plan ahead of time, you can use your sign-up bonus points to help offset travel expenses during the holidays. You can also use this card's generous reward offerings throughout the year to accumulate more bonus points to spend during next year's holiday months.
Annual Fee: None
Intro APR: 0% on purchases for 15 months
Ongoing APR: 14.99% to 25.99% variable, depending on your creditworthiness
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is excellent for shoppers who make a lot of household purchases. Cardholders earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) and 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations. Cardholders can also get $150 statement credit after spending $1,000 in purchases on a new card within the first three months of opening an account.
How You Can Use It During the Holidays: If you plan on driving to your holiday destinations, 2% cash back on money spent at U.S. gas stations is one of the best rewards rates around. The card's 0% APR introductory offer for 15 months can help you pay off large purchases over a period of time without incurring any interest.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year
Ongoing APR: 17.74% to 26.74% variable, depending on your creditworthiness
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is a good option for people planning to stay in hotels alone or with family members during the year.
Cardholders can earn 75,000 bonus points after using the new card to make $3,000 in purchases in the first three months of opening the account. As a result of a recent merger, these bonus points can be used at large selection of Starwood and Marriott properties.
You also earn 6 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels, and cardholders receive a 1 Free Night Award every year on your account's anniversary. (Select hotels have resort fees.)
How You Can Use It During the Holidays: Use your bonus points to offset your holiday hotel expenses. Plan ahead and you can use the bonus points you earned to redeem award nights at participating SPG® and Marriott® locations.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.
This article was originally published on November 8, 2018, and has been updated.