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If You Absolutely Have to Finance a Family Trip, This Card May Be Right for You

Oct. 15, 2018
5 min read
If You Absolutely Have to Finance a Family Trip, This Card May Be Right for You
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The average household spent $2,076 on vacations in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey. No doubt you can squeeze in a quality trip for a family of four at that price, but it won't be easy or realistic to come in at or below that number in some cases.

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Airfare for four to a place like Hawaii, for example, can cost $1,300 or more round-trip — and that's only when a pretty extraordinary offer comes along. Even if you have more modest destinations in mind, or you're willing to make it a road trip, the cost of traveling adds up fast, especially if you don't have many points and miles saved up to help defer the cost. The typical household spends more than $500, for example, on hotels for out-of-town travel each year. And, if you're traveling to a place like Walt Disney World, entry to just one park costs $100 or more a day per person. Talk about a budget-buster.

All of this to say family vacations can be expensive, and while we at TPG preach against never carrying a balance on a credit card, when you're planning your ideal family trip, you may be forced to decide between breaking a rule points-and-miles collectors hold dear, and not taking the vacation you want. What absolutely doesn't make sense is to rack up thousands of miles to pay for your vacay, only to have those rewards get swallowed by finance charges of 16% or more per year.

There is a way you can build your dream vacation and actually take it, too — if you can stick to a repayment plan that will cost you no interest and allow you to enjoy the full benefits of the rewards you earn. Ideally you have the money in hand before you book a trip, but sometime life gives you small windows to act, and you make the finances work or miss your window. You can't easily employ this strategy of charge now and pay-back later with the best travel rewards credit cards, because most don't offer a 0% introductory offer, and the ones that do offer a relatively short intro window.

If your window to travel doesn't align with your budget, look to a card with a 0% intro APR. (photo by Flytographer)

Enter Discover it Miles which earns 1.5 miles per dollar and matches all of your earnings at the end of your first year of card ownership, making this a card that essentially earns a 3% return (once miles earned the first year are matched). A free payoff plan, rewards and no annual fee? Sign us up.

As for redemption on the Miles card, each mile is worth 1 cent as a statement credit toward qualifying travel expenses or good for cash as an electronic deposit to your bank account. Eligible travel purchases must have been recorded on your statement within the last 180 days and include airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, travel agents, online travel sites, commuter transportation and much more.

Sometimes, the time to make memories is now. (Image courtesy of Getty Images)

You'll have to make sure you have a plan in place to pay off that vacation bill (and not add any additional debt) during the intro period in order to avoid finance charges. But it can be done with a little budgeting and some back-of-the-envelope math. Say you put $5,000 on your card to pay for your family's trip. You'll need to pay $357 a month to ensure you have that bill paid in full by the end of the 14-month 0% introductory period.

Now compare that with the interest you'd accrue without an intro offer. At 16% APR, you'd pay more than $500 in interest over the course of 14 months on that same charge, if that's how long it took you to repay your debt. That's a down payment on your next vacation — and $350 more than the rewards you earned for booking your vacation on a card that will ultimately give you 3% in rewards once all of your miles at matched at the end of the first year.

In most situations we aren't supporters of creating debt to take a vacation, but sometimes life doesn't always operate in a sequential order.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
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Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
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Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees