Avoid credit card interest by planning holiday travel now

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Now is the time to make your year-end holiday travel plans — or you will pay through the nose in 2019.

The sage holiday traveler grabs every discount and forces credit card companies to offer the best deals.

But a chump overpays, according to a new report, which documents how holiday travelers paid for trips last year and how some will overpay this year.

Travelers will charge on average $1,456 for holiday trips, but most will take months paying it off while incurring a 15 percent or more interest charge, according to NerdWallet’s 2018 Holiday Travel Report.

For instance, at 15.5 percent interest, taking a year to pay off that $1,456 home for the holidays will come to $1,578, with about $122 extra going to the card issuer. This is self-destructive, says a NerdWallet expert.

“Reaping the full value of your credit card rewards is only possible if you’re consistently paying off your balance,” said Joe Cortez, a NerdWallet travel rewards analyst.

On average, cardholders will take 2.2 months to pay those bill balances, if they hold true to the pattern of last year. About 5 percent of holiday travelers using cards take a full year to pay off their costs.

“While earning points and miles can lead to free or discounted trips, expensive credit card interest rates can act as a boat anchor to your rewards and quickly drag their value down,” Cortez adds.

Why are people unnecessarily adding to their holiday bills?

A Long Island adviser says cardholders who overpay don’t plan for holiday spending.

“Have a budget for holiday traveling and stick to it,” says Charles Hughes, a certified financial planner.

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