How I Save Money and Plan My Vacations with Credit Cards

by Kay Lynn

Mr Credit Card from www.askmrcreditcard.com is writing a guest post for me today. He is going talk about making use of your credit cards for vacation planning and saving money.

Firstly, thanks to Mrs Boomer for letting me guest post here. Today, I just want to reiterate some of the points Mrs Boomer has made about her use of credit cards and how I have used them to save money on things I spend and save on my vacation. But first, as a background. Years ago when I started working, the company I worked for gave me a business credit card. It allowed me to earn reward points and over the years, I’ve gotten a number free business class international airline tickets simply from spending on my corporate card, especially on business travel. A few years ago, I stopped traveling for a while and I switched to using a cash back credit card instead. I found out that I could earn lots of cash rebates as well. So here are some tips on using your credit cards to get the best bang for the buck.

Charge everything to your card – Mrs Boomer might disagree with me on this point as she pointed in this post here. She advocates charging large expenses on the card and perhaps pay cash with the smaller expenses because it could prevent you from impulse purchases. My solution to impulse purchases is to always plan ahead what you are going to buy. Savvy moms who shop in supermarkets use coupons and make sure they write down their shopping list before they buy. Supermarkets are simply designed to get you to make impulse purchases by making you walk through all the aisles, putting more expensive stuff at eye levels etc. You can ignore that by using a list – not just at the supermarket, but with any other shopping trips.

By the way, I charge even small stuff at the supermarket and because my card pays me more than 1% on supermarket shopping!

Online Shopping Portal – Many credit cards these days have online shopping portals. This is how it works. They form partnerships with online shopping merchants and when you shop at these online stores from your credit card account login, you will earn cash rebates. An example example of this is the Discover Card. You can shop at over 100 online retailers and earn anywhere from 5% to 20% cash rebates. Other credit card companies are also beginning to incorporate and offer such features to their customers.

Shopping Comparison Tool – Some credit card companies have shopping comparison tools as well. For example, certain American Express cardholders can access this tool called shopamex.com, which allows you to do online comparison for products being sold on the internet. This is an invaluable tool to save money. It also allows you to use rewards points when you use the site (though I do not recommend that).

Advanced Event Booking – Another way I use my credit card (which does not really save money) is to book tickets for events I want to go in advance. For example, Amex sponsors a lot of musicals and performing arts etc. Very often, the would allow Amex cardholders to have advance booking before tickets are made available to the public. I have taken advantage of this numerous times.

Plan your vacation in advance – Mrs Boomer mentioned that Mr Boomer is a retiree and I would assume that they would both take annual vacations. One way I save money on your vacation is to plan way ahead. That means deciding on what flights makes the most sense, which hotels you want to stay at. It could mean planning a year ahead. Once I have that all planned out, the next task would be to check and see which frequent flyer program will get you there with the least points. Check out the credit cards that will allow you to earn those points, figure out much you put on your credit card a year, and work backwards how long it takes to get a free airline ticket or hotel stay or airline ticket upgrade. Such advance planning saves you a lot and it should be in your budgeting process.

Use Your Auto Rental Insurance – Whenever I rent a car, I never pay for auto rental collision whenever I rent a car. That is because my credit card automatically provides auto rental collision insurance if you charge your auto rental to the card. Most credit cards offer this feature as well.

Ending Thoughts

I’m sure there are more ways to save money with your credit cards (whether it be for a vacation or for anything). In the right hands, it becomes an extremely useful tool. You must pay off your balance every month to get the full use and benefits that credit cards offer. Be diligent, do some research and you’ll be surprised how much you can save. Here are some other interesting related posts on this site.

5 ways to use airline miles without flying

Why I don’t use automatic payments

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephen @ ACE Cash Advances February 5, 2010 at 1:22 pm

I agree with planning everything ahead, especially when thinking about vacation. It will definitely tame your spending if you’ve got a list of what you need for your vacation. One of the things that I like about using credit cards are those sweet rebates. It’s a good way to maximize your credit card spending.

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Bret @ Hope to Prosper February 15, 2010 at 9:14 am

One thing I wanted to add was that it is much safer purchasing your airline tickets with a credit card. I was ripped off by a travel agent once and it was no fun trying to get my money back.

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Bucksome February 15, 2010 at 11:07 am

Bret, I’m sorry to hear about the travel agent problem. Even though Mr. Credit Card might think I don’t like credit cards, I do use them for the protection you pointed out with large purchases including airline tickets.

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