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Amex: Americans Expect to Spend 151% More on Travel This Holiday Season

Dec. 14, 2016
4 min read
Amex: Americans Expect to Spend 151% More on Travel This Holiday Season
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How much are you planning on spending on travel this holiday season? According to a new study by American Express, if you're hitting the road or taking to the skies, you're likely planning on shelling out a whole lot more this year than last year.

The study shows that the same percent of Americans plan on traveling this holiday season (52%). But, among these travelers, the average spending on travel is expected to skyrocket by 151%, up to an astounding $1,521 per person. This compares to an average of $605 per person in the same survey done last year.

The largest reason cited for travel isn't surprising: "Visiting friends/family for the holidays." The surprising part is that only 53% of respondents cited this as a reason. Meanwhile, 31% are "treating oneself or family members to a vacation" and 20% seemed to have jumped on a flight deal, answering "I have found great deals for an end of year getaway".

Are you part of the 23% headed out of the country this holiday season? Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

There are plenty of other interesting tidbits from the study:

  • 12% of respondents listed "Going to lose my vacation days at work" as a primary reason for traveling, indicating these travelers didn't get away enough the rest of the year.
  • More Americans are planning to get out of the country this year (23%) vs. last year (18%).
  • Half of those traveling will do so by air, compared to just 43% last year.
  • Of those traveling by air, 30% are planning on splurging by "flying first or business class."

While Amex is generalizing this data to all Americans, there's a huge caveat buried deep in the study's methodology: This survey was only conducted among those with a "minimum annual household income of $100,000" — substantially more than the median annual household income of $57,929 (caution: PDF link).

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One part of the study that definitely caught our eye is that 29% of respondents indicated they'll use "credit/charge card rewards points" or "a mix of debit/credit/charge and rewards points" as their primary method of paying for travel. Meanwhile, just 2% cited using "airline mileage points" — likely thanks to the obscene mileage rates charged by some airlines over the holidays.

If you need to stock up on these rewards points for future travel, here are some top cards to consider:

  • Up to 75,000 American Express Membership Rewards points ($2,000 in travel when redeemed at 2 cents per point) after $20,000 spent in the first three months from The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($1,500 in travel when redeemed at 1.5 cents per point), plus $300 per calendar year in travel credits from the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
  • 40,000 Citi ThankYou points ($640 in American Airlines flights), plus $250 per calendar year in travel credits from the Citi Prestige
  • 70,000 miles ($700 in travel) after $5,000 spent in the first 90 days from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard
  • 50,000 miles ($500 in travel) in the first three months through the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bottom Line

Among those surveyed, Americans are planning to spend much more on holiday travel this year than last year. Almost one-third of these travelers are planning to use their rewards points or airline miles to help pay for travel over the holiday. Hopefully you're one of them!

How do your holiday travel plans compare to the survey's results?