The way Dandapani sees it, pay-before-you-go plans are an option whose time has come in the hotel industry. "We've seen that there's a huge hesitation on the part of consumers to spend money and build up debt," he says. "Our layaway plan lets our guests avoid a big charge on their credit card at the end of their stay. Frankly, I'm surprised more hotels aren't trying it."
Play the Percentage Game: Need another good reason to save up or pay off as much as you can before you go? Maxing out your credit cards on vacation can hurt your credit score big time, says Ray of CreditCards.com. "Most experts recommend that your credit card debt should not go above 30 percent of your total credit limit." Ray suggests spreading out your expenses across multiple cards, so you stay below 30 percent of the limit on each individual card as well as on your cumulative credit card limit.
Don't Forget to Count Your Paycheck: Now for some good news: You probably don't need to save up 100 percent of your vacation cost anyway, says Bodnar of Kiplinger's magazine. Any traveler who receives paid vacation days from and employer can finance a portion of the vacation with a current paycheck.
"Whatever you would have spent at home for food and recreation during the same period can be put toward your vacation budget," explains Bodnar. So if your family of four typically spends $200 on groceries and $70 on recreation and entertainment in a week, that's $270 you won't have to save for a weeklong getaway.
Get a New Card: While it may seem like the last thing you need is another credit card, opening a new account can have a significant upside for travelers.
"A rewards card, especially one that can earn points for free hotel stays or air miles, can be a good idea for some people," says Ray. "You always get a bonus for signing up, and while credit card issuers have become less generous with their rewards programs, there is greater availability so it's easier to cash in your rewards now than it has been in the past."
Give Kids Fiscal Responsibility: While you're away on vacation, each kid should have his or her own souvenir money to spend. "There's a saying," laughs Bodnar, "that kids will spend any amount of money as long as it's yours. But the reverse is also true -- they are much more conscious of what they spend when the money is theirs."
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