[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Vacations can be expensive, but that doesn’t stop us from taking them. A 2017 AAA survey found that 42% of Americans plan to take a vacation this year, and about 30% said they are more likely to go on vacation this year than they were in 2016. Most participants said those trips would be to warm locales throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Paying for These Vacations
Getaways usually require advance planning and saving, but you may be able to fund these trips with something other than a cut of each paycheck, thanks to rewards you gather from credit cards.
Some travel rewards credit cards offer sizable signup bonuses that can help pay for a large portion of your trip. Take the ever-popular Chase Sapphire Reserve. This card rewards you with 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. That’s equal to $750 toward travel, when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Plus, you’ll get a $300 annual statement credit for travel purchases every year.
Add in rewards for purchases you make with the card (three points on travel and restaurants, one point everywhere else), and you’ll be on your way to funding your next vacation.
Before You Sign Up …
You should read the fine print for any card you’re considering to make sure you know what you’ll be getting. To earn high bonuses or other perks, you have to reach a certain spending threshold in a set amount of time (like $4,000 in three months, as we mentioned). You’ll want to make sure your budget allows for this kind of spending.
There’s often a price tag tied to these cards in the form of an annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is $450 each year, so you’ll want to account for that in your budget. There are rewards cards that don’t come with such a hefty annual fee that you may consider. The Chase Sapphire Preferred has no annual fee for the first year and is $95 thereafter.
You also want to think about your spending habits. Do you tend to carry a balance? A rewards card may not be right for you. Not paying in full each month with these cards means you’ll just lose all those rewards to interest charges. Are you easily motivated by rewards? If collecting points or miles causes you to spend more than you can afford, you may want to steer clear of these kinds of cards.
Rewards credit cards tend to require high credit scores, so it’s a good idea to take a look at yours before applying to see if you’ll qualify. (You can see a free credit report summary, which includes two of your credit scores, for free on Credit.com.)
With that in mind, where can these plastic perks get you? Here are a dozen possible destinations.
1. Las Vegas
The Las Vegas Strip may be your perfect getaway if you’re looking for never-ending energy, sunshine and good eats. (Pro tip: Mon Ami Gabi is a must try.) Try to visit during the week when hotel rooms tend to go for a lower rate.
2. Nassau, Bahamas
Pull up a beach chair on one of the pristine beaches in the capital city of the Bahamas and enjoy the sunshine. If you’d rather be out in the water, get your snorkel gear and enjoy some of the most beautiful coral reefs around.
From the art and architecture to the wine and pasta, Rome has it all. Enjoy seeing iconic sites like the Colosseum and the Pantheon, then kick back with a cappuccino at one of the cafes.
4. Puerto Rico
The bright and colorful buildings in Old San Juan, as well as the fortresses, are must-sees if you’re coming to Puerto Rico. Your taste buds are sure to thank you for enjoying the local cuisines, like plantain burritos and arroz con dulce.
5. Key West
The southernmost point of the U.S. has great fishing and diving opportunities. Plus, you can see the famous six- and seven-toed cats at the Ernest Hemingway Home.
6. New York City
Once you’ve seen the tourist spots, you can check out the architecture and boutiques in NoHo or wrap up the day enjoying the nightlife in Greenwich Village.
Enjoy the breathtaking views of Puget Sound from the Space Needle or take a ferry to Bainbridge Island and visit the local wineries.
Enjoy pink sandy beaches on the main island, like those at Astwood Park. There are also several shipwrecks and reefs that are perfect for scuba divers to explore.
9. Sedona, Arizona
If your idea of warm weather destinations doesn’t include beaches, this desert town in Arizona may be perfect for you. The beautiful red rock cliffs, accompanied by trails leading to some of the most alluring picnicking spots, will have you admiring the West.
10. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Kick back or enjoy the waves at the Playa del Amor and then grab dinner and drinks at one of the many outdoor bars and restaurants along the water. If you want to bring your clubs, there are many gorgeous golf courses in town you won’t want to miss.
While here, you can explore volcanoes like Mauna Loa or historic sites like the USS Arizona Memorial or Pearl Harbor. And there are the beautiful beaches and the ocean that are great for surfing or sailing.
12. San Diego
With seemingly perfect weather year-round, there’s never a bad time to visit this California city. Carlsbad, in northern San Diego, boasts some of the most stunning beaches. And the Victorian-style Hotel del Coronado is worth visiting, both for the view and for brunch at the Crown Room.
Want more ideas on where to travel using your credit card rewards? Check out these 50 places to visit before you turn 50.
At publishing time, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).
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