A new study by Finder.com found that Americans are overusing credit cards on vacations, and it’s costing them $2.7 billion in interest fees. The study found that:
- The average amount of credit card debt accumulated by Americans on vacation was $1,518.
- Men accumulated more debt than women, with $1,616 being the average for men, and $1,431 for women.
- Average debt tended to increase with age. 18-29 year-olds accumulated $1,130 on average. Those ages 30-44 averaged $1,564, 45-59 year-olds averaged $1,585, and those over 60 years of age averaged $1,602.
“It’s so easy to get into vacation debt—especially during the summer months when you want a getaway, and all you’re thinking is: ‘I’ve worked so hard. I deserve this trip,'” says money coach and author Lynnette Khalfani-Cox.
“But instead of running up credit card bills that can last another year or more, it’s better to take an excursion that won’t break the bank. Stay in country instead of going overseas. Plan a weekend trip rather a vacation that lasts a week or two. Maybe do a road trip and crash at the home or apartment of friends and family instead of flying somewhere and charging your hotel bill on a credit card. Even a ‘staycation’—right in your own backyard or exploring your own town/city—may be in order, if you just can’t afford a trip,” she adds.
Some other tips that may help you avoid the financial pitfalls that come with vacation debt:
- Set a vacation budget. Be sure that you know how much you can spend each day of your vacation without busting your household budget. Be sure that all members of your family are on the same page about what you can afford to spend. Come up with creative ways together to enjoy your vacation destination that won’t create financial stress when you get home.
- Pay your bills before you go. Nothing can ruin a vacation more than coming home to late fees and bills that you can’t afford because you splurged while you were away.
- Notify credit card companies. Many lenders will not honor purchases made in locations they feel are outside of your profile. You don’t want to use your card to pay for a meal or enjoy an experience, and find out the purchases have been declined. Also, be sure to notify your credit card company when you return home.
Vacations are meant to restore, rejuvenate, and enjoy. Don’t let money take away the many benefits that a vacation can bring to you and your family.