Travel rewards help cut costs on summer vacations amid rising prices

Canadians are changing their travel plans this summer due to rising costs of flights and hotels, according to a new Leger poll.

The poll found one third of Canadians have changed or cancelled their vacation plans because of costs. Of those people, 43 per cent are opting for less expensive accommodation, 41 per cent are cutting back on activities and attractions, and 39 per cent are taking shorter trips.

“Travel costs are on the rise,” says Natasha Macmillan, director of everyday banking with Ratehub.ca. “People are active and wanting to get back out, so we’re starting to see those costs rise more and more over time.”

With demand and inflation driving costs up, Macmillan suggests optimizing travel reward credit cards to find deals.

“It’s a great way to save on travel, hotels, miles and much more by using it on everyday purchases.

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“A lot of our employees have talked about how, over time, they’ve managed to pay for entire vacations, depending on their spending.”

Click to play video: 'How to best use your travel rewards points'

How to best use your travel rewards points

Macmillan stresses it’s important not to sign up for multiple credit cards, but instead to find the card that works best for your spending and reward needs.

“For example… every week for a family of four, I’m spending $250 to $300 on groceries. How can I maximize my point rewards in that sense? Because it’s something I have to spend on and it’s going to be reoccurring, so let me try to identify a credit card that works for that expense.”

For people already using travel reward cards, it’s worth checking point balances before making travel plans.

“Chances are you’re sitting on a lot of points already that can be used to book things like flights, hotels or rental cars,” says Tamara Elliott, travel blogger at Globeguide.ca. “And if you don’t, now is the time to sign up because there are some really great sign-up bonuses out there.”

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Click to play video: 'The best choice of travel reward credit card'

The best choice of travel reward credit card

Elliott says in addition to the points for travel and accommodation, many cards offer perks like free on-board Wi-Fi, checked luggage and companion passes.

But there is a catch if you need to cancel travel booked on points, warns Elliott.

“Read the fine print when you’re booking because sometimes there is an option to use more points but have the option to refund them if you can’t go in the end. But if you’re doing the basic, economy, least amount of points, once you give those points, you’re not getting them back.”

Other options, according to Elliott, are to book travel during the shoulder seasons when costs are typically lower or try to stay closer to home, accumulating those points that can help you travel next year.

“Embrace the staycation… book that day hike you’ve always been hearing about, do some of the fun activities and attractions that we have right here… go to that fantastic restaurant that you’ve been meaning to try.”

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Click to play video: 'Canada’s top travel rewards credit cards for 2020'

Canada’s top travel rewards credit cards for 2020

The web survey asked 1,526 Canadians and 1,000 Americans over 18 years old between July 14 and 26.

Technically, a margin of error should not be associated with a non-probability (web) sample. However, for comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size would yield a margin of error no greater than ±2.5%, 19 times out of 20 for the Canadian sample and ±3.1%, 19 times out of 20 for the American sample.

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