You’re not the only one putting your holiday travel on a credit card this year.
More than 70 percent of this year’s holiday travelers plan to pay for their trips using a credit card, according to a new survey from NerdWallet. NerdWallet partnered with The Harris Poll in mid-September to ask more than 2,000 U.S. adults about their plans to book flights and hotels for the holidays.
The average holiday traveler is expected to charge just under $1,500 in trip expenses on their credit cards, according to the survey data. But not all travelers will go into debt to fund their trips.
More than 20 percent of travelers told NerdWallet they plan to pay their balances in full when their bills arrive — a move that will save them interest charges while earning them whatever credit card rewards they choose. And let’s face it, there are few greater perks than earning another vacation for free just for paying for your last trip.
NerdWallet estimates those who don’t take this approach will take nearly three months to pay off their credit card balance, adding at least $40 to their holiday travel bill. While that may not sound like much, the longer you take to pay your credit card balance in full, the more you can expect the bill to grow.
“Unless you’re experiencing a true emergency, we recommend avoiding credit card debt if possible. It adds onto the cost of everything and can quickly spiral out of control,” NerdWallet Sara Rathner said in a statement released to Travel + Leisure.
On average, travelers surveyed by NerdWallet said they expected to spend just over $1,800 in total for their holiday trips. Most travelers surveyed by NerdWallet said they would try to manage their travel costs by choosing cheaper flights and hotels, and prioritizing saving money over convenience and amenities. Just over 30 percent of survey respondents said they would use their existing airline miles to trim their holiday travel costs.
Only 13 percent of travelers said they would avoid checking a bag to save money.
Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Facebook and Instagram.