Can’t Afford a Vacation? Get Another Credit Card!

News about Americans’ dire financial straits turns into a credit card commercial.

By Alan Mcleod and cross-posted from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR.org).

Summertime is well and truly here, and for many of us, that means sunny vacations. Disneyland? Florida? A European adventure?

But for tens of millions of Americans, there will be none, because they cannot afford one. A new and widely reported poll from financial services company BankRate.com found that over one in four people are forgoing a vacation, primarily because they cannot pay for it.

The average expected cost of a vacation, for those planning one, was $1,979. But, as a well-publicized survey found, the large majority of millennials (and a majority of Americans overall) are living paycheck-to-paycheck and could not even afford a $1,000 emergency, let alone a $2,000 luxury.

Commenting on BankRate’s poll, CNBC(4/25/19) provided its audience with “expert” financial advice on how to better afford a vacation, ranging from the bland “watch what you spend” or “have a staycation” to the insultingly obvious “make more money”: Simply “add income streams,” CNBC suggests. That way, writer Megan Leonhardt notes, we could earn between $1,000 and $10,000 extra per month that we could use to invest. How easy—if only the majority of Americans had thought of that!

The recommendations go full galaxy-brained in a section entitled “how the right credit card could help,” where Ted Rossman—an employee of BankRate, whose business model relies on signups to credit cards—explains, “There’s still time to turn a sign-up bonus and ongoing spending rewards into a free or discounted trip.”

This is dubious advice; Americans already owe more than $1 trillion in credit card debt, and the average new credit card interest rate is over 19%. To be fair, CNBC’s article does come with a disclaimer that you should not spend beyond your means: “Don’t use a credit card to pay for a trip and plan to pay it off later,” it warns, sensibly enough, even though it’s just told you that “picking the right card is key” to affording a trip

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