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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

It’s no secret that vacations can get expensive — between flights, hotels, food, transportation and sightseeing, the costs can add up quickly.

In fact, a recent study from Bankrate claims that 42% of Americans decided not to take a vacation in the last year because of cost. What’s more, 28% of adults said they are less able to afford a vacation than they were five years ago. While we never want to encourage anyone from doing things they truly cannot afford, we can offer some tips on how to responsibly use credit cards to go on a well-deserved vacation.

First thing’s first: Read our beginner’s guide to points, miles, airlines and credit cards. This will help you understand the ins and outs of rewards credit cards, and why you should never use a debit card — as long as you pay your bills on time and in full every single month, and never spend more than you can afford. Using a rewards credit card instead of a debit card for necessary everyday purchases is essentially an investment toward your next trip; by earning points and miles on things that you would have to buy anyway, you’ll be on your way to the airport before you can say “award redemption.”

There are also some solid credit card offers out right now that will get you one step closer to a free vacation. Take Hilton, for example. Thanks to the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, you’ll get 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first four months. That’s worth up to $780 according to TPG’s most recent valuations.

You’ll also get a complimentary Free Weekend Night award as part of that welcome offer and you can use it at just about any hotel in Hilton’s umbrella. Top-tier properties, such as the Conrad Tokyo, will run you 95,000 points per night — so even if you want to go the luxury route for one night, you’ll still have some points left over. On the other hand, you can find more affordable options starting at just 5,000 per night, especially if you’re flexible with your date and destination.

Here’s a look at the best Hilton properties in the US for 20,000 points or less and here are top Hilton properties overseas that cost 10,000 points or less per night.

If you’d rather pay cash for your vacation, keep an eye on our Twitter feed specifically dedicated to great deals on airfare (and occasionally hotel rates). Just this week, we found flights to Italy for just $286 round-trip.

Our goal here at TPG is to not just inspire people travel, but also to help them see the world for free. So, if you’re confident you can pay your bills on time and in full every month, it’s time to use the right rewards credit card to start earning points and miles for your next (free) vacation. Then, you won’t have to be part of that statistic counting the number of Americans who forgo vacations due to cost.

Featured photo of Acapuloco by benedek / Getty Images

Know before you go.

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.