With the weather outside so frightful, it’s understandable if thoughts of travel are filling your head. Whether you have a winter getaway in mind, or you’re trying to get a head start on summer vacation planning, here are a few money-saving tips that you should keep in mind:

Credit Cards Are The Best Way To Go

While everyone thinks about paying for a vacation from an affordability standpoint, few consider what type of payment to use once there. What method of payment for airfare, lodging, and other accommodations, will you use? Will you use your credit card, debit card, cash, or even checks, when applicable?

Credit cards are the best way to go. They save on both cost and hassle. They offer a wide array of money-saving benefits and protections that are not available with cash, or even debit cards.

Best Exchange Rates

Currency conversion is a factor whenever you travel internationally. Exchanging dollars for the local currency can either save you or cost you a lot of money. According to CardHub’s Annual Currency Conversion Study, Visa and MasterCard both offer lower exchange rates than local banks or Travelex. Instead of converting physical currency, you should take a Visa/MasterCard credit card with you on your international travels. This way, your money can be converted automatically at the point of sale.

Complimentary Rental Car Insurance

Most credit cards automatically provide rental car collision and damage insurance coverage. You simply decline the rental company’s supplemental insurance (which is money-saving in-and-of-itself) in order to use the credit card insurance.

Rewards for Usage

Credit cards offer spending-based rewards. Accumulate points to help with ongoing expenses, earn free hotel nights, or even a free flight. Many credit card companies offer impressive rewards bonuses to entice new customers. Presently, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card will give you a $400 statement credit for spending at least $3,000 during the first three months; the Barclaycard Arrival Card offers $400 to use for any travel-related expense when you spend at least $1,000 in the first three months. These awesome incentives pay you to vacation! Keep in mind that you need excellent credit to qualify for such offers.

Fraud Protection

If criminals somehow get your credit card information and charge expenses to your account, you won’t be held liable for payment. The four major networks–Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover–offer blanket $0 liability guarantees.

The same protection also covers debit card transactions, as long as you choose to verify your transaction by signature rather than PIN. However, with a debit card, money from your account is removed immediately at the time of transaction. You must make a claim with the bank to get your money back, and to prevent automatic monthly payments from being declined due to insufficient funds. With a credit card, you have the ability to spot and correct fraud before you make a payment on your account.Money-saving is impossible If someone steals cash right out of your pocket or purse–there’s simply no getting it back. If a credit card is stolen however, all you will need to do is deactivate that card, and have your issuer ship an emergency replacement.

Other Considerations

The above is not meant to say that you should rely exclusively on a credit card for all travel-related spending. That is just not possible. There will always be merchants and service providers who only take cash. Along with a credit card, you should also carry an ATM card that has low, international ATM-withdrawal fees, so you are able to get to your cash, no matter where in the world you are visiting.

If you are planning an overseas trip, make sure to watch out for a merchant practice called “dynamic currency conversion.” This is when a merchant offers to convert your purchase total into dollars, using the reason that it is for your convenience. This convenience is really so the merchant can overcharge you on the exchange rate and increase their own profits.

Bottom Line

These tips and tidbits are a lot to consider. However, by keeping in mind these money-saving ideas, you will be able to plan the perfect trip. Use these tips to get you through the colder months and off to your vacation paradise!

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