Middle-Income Vacationers Plan to Spend $500 More This Year Than Last

Despite hard-to-shake concerns about inflation, nearly half of U.S. consumers are planning to take a break this summer — and many plan to shell out more on getaways this year than last year.  

According to PYMNTS Intelligence data, 48% of consumers have already made travel plans for this summer, and more than one-third say they anticipate spending more on excursions than last summer. In most cases, they plan to use their credit cards to cover the costs, which they anticipate being about $2,400.

These are just a few of the key takeaways in our latest edition of PYMNTS Intelligence’s Consumer Credit Economy Monitor Report, “School’s Out: Consumers Will Use Their Credit Cards to Pay for Summer Travel,” which was created in collaboration with i2c and reflects findings from recent surveys with more than 2,100 U.S. consumers.

More than one-third of consumers who are planning to pay for at least part of their summer travel plans using credit cards say the rewards and cashback programs connected to those cards are the primary reason they are using them.

However, data also shows that, in some cases, a growing percentage of consumers plan to use buy now, pay later (BNPL) plans to cover the expenses, especially Gen Z travelers as well as those in lower income brackets.

Although overall, respondents who plan to use BNPL plans to cover some of their summer travel expect to spend less than those who do not, the opposite is actually true for consumers earning less than $50,000. These lower-income consumers expect to spend 13% more on average if they use a BNPL plan, indicating that BNPL plans might enable those with limited incomes to enjoy vacations that could otherwise be out of their reach.

How much money are consumers planning on spending on their summer breaks? As mentioned, on average, they plan to spend about $2,400 his summer, which is roughly $175 — or 8% — more than they spent last year. Gen Z vacationers actually plan to spend slightly less that year: $1,625 versus the $1,642. Those earning less than $50,000 annually are being even more frugal, spending slightly more than $1,300 this summer compared to the $1,437 they invested in last summer’s getaway.

Conversely, the most notable spending increase occurs among middle-income travelers, who plan to spend about $500 more this year. This 30% jump contrasts sharply with the flat spending amount higher-income consumers anticipate. Baby boomers and seniors will spend an additional $300, and Gen X will spend nearly $400 more.

Perhaps another unintended takeaway from the report is that an array of Americans, despite economic uncertainties and tightened budgets, still see the need to take time for a sabbatical this summer.