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Survey Reveals Millions of Americans Can’t Afford to Travel for Holidays

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 10/9/2018 Janeen Christoff

Inserting a coin into a piggy bank: PHOTO: Inserting a coin into a piggy bank. (photo via FabrikaCr/iStock/Getty Images Plus) © Getty Images PHOTO: Inserting a coin into a piggy bank. (photo via FabrikaCr/iStock/Getty Images Plus) Wallet Hub’s Winter Travel Survey has revealed a disturbing trend: 33 million Americans won’t travel this winter because they can’t afford it.

The details are surprising as economic news indicates the U.S. economy is flourishing and that unemployment is at historic lows. However, Americans are still feeling the pinch of the pocketbook—part of that has to do with rising interest rates.

“U.S. consumers will be shelling out billions of dollars in extra charges they otherwise could be spending on other things such as travel,” said Mark A. Bonn, director of the resort and vacation rental management program at Florida State University. “This makes it difficult to travel now, let alone after the holiday spending has ended.”

The survey found that many people who are planning to travel are looking for ways to save this holiday season to make getting away more affordable.

Wallet Hub’s Winter Travel Survey found that younger generations were more keen on using credit to fund their pursuits, noting that Millennials are 12 times more likely than baby boomers to apply for a new credit card to save on winter travel and that 37 percent of people say travel is worth going into debt for.

“One reasonable explanation is that Millennials have far fewer savings than baby boomers, because Millennials are younger,” said Irina A. Telyukova, senior vice president of analytics at Mulligan Funding. “Thus, they are earlier in their careers and life cycle.”

If this is in the cards for you, Wallet Hub research determined that the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card was top among those on offer. The credit card features a bonus worth $600 in travel for spending $5,000 in the first 90 days (pad those Christmas lists). It also offers 2.1 percent back on all purchases when you redeem miles for travel, and no annual fee the first year ($89 after that).

Those who are looking into getting a credit card to travel this winter can be savvy about using it. With good budgeting practices and practical use of bonuses, saving with a new card can be lucrative.

“Millennials are savvy when it comes to traveling on a budget,” said Nizar Hussein, an instructor in the department of marketing and hospitality services at Central Michigan University. “They take advantage of reward programs offered by credit card companies and open new credit card accounts to earn points. Many are learning the value of reward points if they pay off the credit cards in a timely manner.”

Another way to get the best value on travel for the holidays is to use price alerts to your advantage.

“Savvy internet shoppers set up smartphone alerts to find and select the lowest fares–well in advance of the highest price points (as the holiday draws nearer),” said Frederick J. DeMicco, visiting professor of hotel and healthcare management at Colorado State University.

Other notable findings reveal that, while a significant number of people are going to be staying home this holiday season, it’s still going to be a busy travel time.

—64 percent of people plant to travel away from home this winter.

—16 percent of people plan to apply for a new credit card to fund these travel pursuits.

—93 percent of people believe airlines take advantage of people traveling for the holidays and charge high fees.

—45 percent of people say you can find better travel deals in the winter versus the summer.

—less than 50 percent of people know about the common credit card travel benefits.

—62 percent of people want rewards on gas more than any other type of travel purchase.

—50 percent of people don’t consider the price of gas when making travel plans.

—36 percent of travelers have had credit card purchases declined while traveling.

—16 percent of people say that their best credit card experiences have been while traveling.

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