How to Take a Debt Free Vacation

We’re knee deep in summer and that means one thing: vacation time. While you definitely deserve some time off, we’d recommend not taking it at the expense of your budget. Unfortunately, a new study from Experian Consumer Services found that many Americans are doing just that.

Experian’s report found that 46% of people used a credit card to pay for their vacations because they hadn’t saved enough. Another 49% of travelers racked up credit card debt while on vacation and almost 70% admitted going over their budget. The most common items that added to vacationers’ credit card debt: hotels, airfare, entertainment, and dining out.

There are ways to keep your spending down and avoid going into credit card debt while on vacation. First, start small with your savings plan. Setting aside a low amount far in advance of the occasion will make things easier on you. If you try to cram your savings into the two months before the vacation, you could risk missing your mark. Also, if you’re driving, pack food for the road to avoid spending on costly meals.

When setting a budget for your vacation, keep in mind that there are always unexpected costs, so aim a little higher than you think you should. Just being mindful of debt can help. “You don’t want to come back with two weeks’ worth of memories and two years’ worth of debt,” Becky Frost, education manager for Experian Consumer Services, told USA Today.

Don’t rack up high interest – First Financial’s Visa Platinum Credit Card has a really low rate, no balance transfer fees, and rewards. Apply for a First Financial Visa Platinum Card today!

*APR varies when you open your account based on your credit worthiness. This APR is for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Subject to credit approval. Rates quoted assume excellent borrower credit history. Your actual APR may vary based on your state of residence, approved loan amount, applicable discounts and your credit history. No Annual Fee. Other fees that apply: Cash advance fee of 1% of advance ($5 minimum and $25 maximum), Late Payment Fee of up to $25, Foreign Transaction Fee of 1% plus foreign exchange rate of transaction amount, $5 Card Replacement Fee, and Returned Payment Fee of up to $25. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a VISA Platinum Card and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.

Article courtesy of Chris O’Shea of Savvy Money.

Vacation Tips for the Money Conscious Traveler

Of all the joys that summer brings, vacation is one of the biggest joys of the season.  While your vacation can bring you much needed rest and relaxation, it can also bring unnecessary stress if you are not wary of your expenses.  Luckily, there are still plenty of ways to save an extra buck and avoid overspending while enjoying your escape.

jsummerabstract-resized-600The first step in every big decision is planning, and vacation is no exception. By taking the time to plan ahead, you will have more options to choose from before flights, resorts and other travel amenities get booked.  This means you will be able to choose the best available deals, saving you serious amounts of money.  Make an itinerary so you will know where you’re going each day of your trip, that way you can find coupons and discounts on certain restaurants and attractions. Also by planning ahead, you can be more flexible with your time, avoiding the days and months that are heavily traveled and highly priced.

Nowadays, airlines are charging more and more for extra luggage, heavy luggage and just luggage in general.  So, now more than ever, it is important to make sure you pack as light as possible.  Try reusing outfits after a few days and rolling your clothes to save space in your bags.  Also, if possible, pack as much as you can in your carry on to prevent checked luggage fees.  For guys, packing light is usually easier, so don’t be shy and lend out some of that extra space!  Not only will packing light save you money, but carrying a few less bags can make your vacation even less stressful.

Most likely, you’re already paying a decent amount for your vacation, so you don’t want to spend any more money than you have to.  Although this sounds like a no-brainer, you can’t imagine all the ways that you can waste money when you’re away.  Chances are you are vacationing in a location geared toward travelers like yourself.  The local businesses know this, and as a result they charge significantly higher prices.  To avoid falling into this trap, you may want to bring snacks, because if you want to get a snack from a local resort or attraction, more often than not, it’s going to be overpriced.  Also, you may want to cut down on souvenirs when you’re away.  Although they are a nice reminder of your journey, they can be expensive.  Plus, your pictures often do a better job of bringing back vacation memories, and these days, they cost next to nothing if you have your own camera.

Another way to avoid that extra spending is by taking advantage of anything free.  No matter where you go, the hotel you stay at is more than likely to have complimentary shampoo, so use it.  If you use shampoo that you bought at home, you’re just going to have to buy another bottle sooner than you would if you had used the hotel’s shampoo.  Also, many resorts will offer free stays in exchange for your business, so take advantage and enjoy yourself!

Now that you’re on vacation, you’re going to have to decide whether you will be paying for your purchases with a debit card or a credit card.  Although debit cards have their advantages – having a concrete value of money on your card forces you to budget – credit cards are typically the way to go on vacation.  First of all, sometimes resorts or rental car companies will put a hold on your card as collateral. If this hold exceeds the actual cost of what you budgeted for, it will have no effect on your credit card, but with a debit card it could end up frozen and incapable of making further purchases until the hold clears.  Also if your card gets stolen, it is much easier to deal with false charges to a credit card.  Plus, some credit cards earn rewards (like First Financial’s VISA® Platinum Card), which can really pile up during vacation spending.

If you’d like more details, check out our low rate First Financial VISA® Platinum Credit Card. We offer a great rewards program called CU Rewards, where you can accumulate a point for every dollar spent as a cardholder!

Now that you know the in’s and out’s of saving money on vacation, get out there, book your trip, and enjoy yourself!