SAN BRUNO, Calif. — Summer travel season has officially begun, and an estimated 140 million Americans are planning a vacation during the warmer months. More summer travelers than ever before are planning to use loyalty program points and frequent flier miles to help fund their vacation plans.
According to a recent survey by American Express, 19 percent of summer travelers plan to use points, a significant increase from 15 percent last year. Alpha Flight Guru, a travel agency that specializes in helping travelers redeem points and miles for travel, has also seen an increase this year in clients wanting to use points for summer vacations.
“The best way to help offset vacation costs is to use the points and miles earned from credit cards and other loyalty programs,” said Tim Gibson, CEO of Alpha Flight Guru. “There is an estimated $50 billion worth of rewards points being given away each year by the airlines, hotels and credit card companies. Many individuals and businesses are not taking full advantage of opportunities to lower travel expenses by charging everything to the right cards and maximizing the number of points earned.”
Gibson said international luxury and business class travel is the best use of loyalty program points and miles.
“When you fly internationally in business or first class, the savings could be as high as five cents for every dollar spent on credit cards,” Gibson said.
The American Express survey found an increase in the number of Americans planning to travel internationally. Italy, Cayman Islands and the United Kingdom were the top vacation choices for summer travelers.
For those looking for international travel savings outside of using loyalty points and frequent flier miles, the Eurozone debt crisis has helped make European vacations more affordable with the Euro and British Pound losing value.