Spring Break season is here. Young and wannabe young people across the country are gearing up to celebrate the end of winter and a week off from the grind of work or school. Some spring breakers don’t have the money to pay for their entire trip, but they don’t want to miss out on a vacation experience that they will only be able to have a few times during their life. That means either hitting up Mom and Dad for the cash to travel or using a credit card.
Of course, it is not only the broke students who rely on credit cards during spring vacation. Some of their more financially savvy peers have enough money saved up for a weeklong tropical holiday, but still want to keep a credit card in their wallet because it is safer than cash, more widely accepted than debit cards, and easier to replace than both of the above. Which cards are best for these more financially savvy Spring Breakers, and which are best for their money-less peers?
Some student-centered credit cards can be a good option for people who need to put a significant portion of their spring break expenses on a credit card. These cards often require a co-signer (Mom or Dad or even Uncle Joe), and a few require security deposits (like secured credit cards).
The Discover® Student More Card is a big standout in this category. It has a huge advantage compared to many other secured cards and students credit cards because of its introductory bonuses and perks. The current offer is for 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months*. . So, while users will eventually have to pay off their Spring Break balance, they will not incur any interest and can basically make minimum payments until they can score a summertime job and pay of the bulk of the balance. On top of its 0% perk, the Discover offers rewards, including a 5% cash-back bonus for purchases made in certain rotating categories. If you can co-ordinate your vacation for a time when categories like airfare, hotel and restaurant come up, you can earn some significant cash-back bonuses to help ease the financial burden of Spring Break.
People who have passed the student-credit card phase and built a bit of credit history might want to opt for a low-cost-carrier airline card. Cards offered by Southwest and JetBlue offer great introductory bonuses that amount to a free flight after you book one flight on the airline that the card is associated with. The debts incurred by using the JetBlue or Southwest cards will need to be paid off quicker than the Discover® Student More Card, and you’ll have to be wary of annual fees, but the chance to earn a free flight for doing what you were planning on doing anyway can make getting one of these cards worthwhile.
Want to avoid credit cards altogether but don’t want to risk carrying cash into crowded streets and clubs that are seen as heaven-sent situations for pickpockets? Consider a prepaid debit card. The American Express Prepaid is a good choice because it does not have any fees as long as you load it using a checking account. That means you can keep the card as a travelers check stand-in, but you don’t have to use it month after month to avoid fees.
The disadvantage of have a credit card is that it is a new form of payment for youthful spenders (who make up the majority of Spring Breakers). They are restricted by credit limits, but can easily convince themselves that getting as close to that limit as possible is worthwhile because they are buying a once in a lifetime experience with each party admission fee or round of drinks. The most memorable part of the trip, however, will most likely be the years of paying off the debts racked up by all the frivolous spending.