Vacation Layaway: Start Saving Now for Summer Fun

Resorts, theme parks and more offer an alternative to paying on credit.

February 3, 2015, 1:56 PM
PHOTO: More companies are offering layaway options for people to budget for vacations.
More companies are offering layaway options for people to budget for vacations.
Getty Images

— -- It’s freezing in much of the U.S., but savvy travelers know that planning season for the all-important family summer vacation is now.

The average family vacation cost $4,800 in 2014, according to American Express Travel, but the days of charging that major expense on a credit card and paying it off later may soon become a thing of the past. More resorts, cruise lines and tour operators are offering layaway-type plans to get travelers to commit to their destination and pay for their vacation before they set sail or check in.

“We had heard from many clients that placing such a large amount on their credit card or pulling it out of a money market was difficult at times. They want their money earning interest,” said Rick Kaplan, Owner of Premier River Cruises, whose customer base trends towards 60+. The company’s layaway plan is new this year.

“Now, we’re seeing slightly younger folks in the 40s and 50s who also prefer to make payments along the way so that when they get home, no big credit card bills await them,” he said.

Disney introduced the Disney Vacation Account one year ago and said the program is “very popular.”

“They [guests] tell us that they love being able to set a savings goal, make automated contributions and get the whole family excited as their vacation approaches,” said a Disney spokesperson.

Users can start an account as far as five years in advance of their vacation date and then set a budget and make automatic contributions. With the Disney plan, guests earn a $20 Disney Gift Card for every $1000 spent, up to $500. (The Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of ABC News).

It's also an option when saving for an all-important trip like a honeymoon. Fiji's ultra-exclusive, ultra-luxe private island Turtle Island resort offers the option, with a $3,000 deposit at time of booking and the balance paid off 60 days prior to arrival.

But it's not just trips-of-a-lifetime that are available for layaway plans. Sears Vacations, which offers layaway options for more than 3,000 cruises and 5,000 land-based packages, has trips payment plans from $49 per month.

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