Category Archives: Vacations

So Much Family Fun, So Little Money

Family on dock

A lot has changed in the world of kid-friendly, affordable vacations. Today, there are boundless ways families can vacation together at reasonable rates. A growing number of airlines, resorts, cruise lines, theme parks, entertainment centers, restaurants, and sports facilities have responded with discounts to attract families. Here are a few tips to consider. Travel off-season, and you may cut the cost of your trip in half. The best deals usually are at outdoor oriented destinations like ski resorts during the months of November and April and national parks in late fall or early spring. Don’t forget about using frequent flyer miles for free family travel. Did you know most airlines offer half-price seats for children younger than two? You may be able to use an unsold (free) seat for your toddler if you book your flight during an off-peak time, when the flight is less apt to be full. How … …continue

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Cruise for a Bargain

Cruise iStock_000016617793Small

Cruise prices dropped during the recession, but have since been edging back up. If you didn’t jump on board with cruise line rock bottom prices, you still can find a good deal by comparison shopping. There’s great variation in pricing, so you have to do some research to get the best deal, and to find the cruise that’s right for you. You can research cruise options at sites such as Cruisemates.com or AllThingsCruise.com. Mainstream cruise lines that have very large ships that carry thousands of passengers are the least expensive. If you’re a first-time cruiser, you may want to try one of these. You also can find deals on upscale cruise lines. These usually come in the form of incentives like free airfare and shore excursions, complimentary liquor, or cabin credits to use for onboard services. Your cruise fare covers food, accommodations, entertainment, and port of call destinations. Once you’re … …continue

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Keep Your Budget in Mind When Planning a Vacation

Water Park

The information in this post is provided by our partner Accel Financial Counseling. Accel’s counseling services and educational programs are available free to all Consumers members. Vacations don’t have to be expensive to be memorable and fun. Here are some suggestions to plan a successful vacation. Create a vacation budget Decide how much money you can afford to spend on a summer vacation. Start by updating your monthly budget. Review your income, expenses, and debt obligations and be sure to set aside money for emergencies. Then decide how much you can direct towards a summer vacation. Add up the total estimated costs of your trip in advance, before making final plans. Then, put away money each month into a savings account. Involve your family Once you’ve determined how much money you can afford for a vacation, decide how best to spend it. Include your family members to decide on where … …continue

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Vacations: Save Before You Set Sail

Sailboat

Your mind wanders to crisp-blue skies and romantic sunsets, salty ocean breezes, and sand between your toes. Then your telephone rings and you snap back to reality. There are no blue skies or ocean breezes, just your computer monitor staring you down. Do you need a vacation? Budgets are tight, but with some disciplined planning and money-saving tricks, that dream vacation can become a reality. Be careful with plastic. Don’t finance your entire vacation on your credit card. That doesn’t mean it’s off limits, but relying solely on plastic will only lead to stress and heavy interest charges down the road. Save, save, save. Try to set aside some of every paycheck in a special savings account. Decide how much you want to have on hand to start your trip. Divide that total by the number of paychecks until vacation, then save that amount in your vacation account. If you … …continue

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Research, Plan and Budget for That Special Vacation

Vacation Time

There are myriad ways to vacation, so to make the best use of your precious time and dollars, plan ahead. Start by deciding what you can afford, and then figure out what you want from the vacation. Do you want total relaxation? Intense sightseeing? Adventure? Something else? Then research likely destinations. You can do your own online research or try one-stop travel sites like Expedia.com, Travelocity.com, or Orbitz.com. You may consider consulting a professional travel agent. There’s no charge to you, and it could save significant time. If you do, make sure the agent is reputable. Ask family and friends for recommendations, and find out how long the agency’s been in business. After determining your ideal destination, consider these tips to get the most for your money: * Book your flight and hotel together as a package. The rates often are lower. * Search for airfare sales on Tuesday evenings … …continue

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Traveling Internationally? Plan Ahead to Use Your Debit and Credit Cards

EMV Card

When you travel abroad, we want to make sure you have convenient access to the funds in your accounts. Certain differences in American and European credit and debit cards can make that more challenging; however, if you prepare in advance, you can easily navigate these differences. Why is there a difference? Many European countries have switched to chip-and-PIN cards (also known as EMV cards for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa). Instead of having a magnetic strip, these cards are embedded with a little chip (some have both). When making purchases with a chip-and-PIN card, you enter your PIN to complete the sale, the way you do with a U.S. debit card. The major credit card providers plan to introduce this chip technology to the U.S. in the next two to three years. Your cards with Consumers will incorporate chip technology at that time. As a U.S. card with a magnetic strip … …continue

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Save on Summer Vacation Plans…

sandcastle 2012

Summer vacation doesn’t have to break the bank (or in this case, credit union.) Whether it’s just you, you and your spouse, or the entire family, there are plenty of ways to be frugal without compromising fun. •           Switch houses: Does your cousin live in California and you’re here in Michigan? Swap houses for a week’s vacation in the other’s city. You’ll save a bundle on hotel costs and enjoy the added benefit of it feeling like home. •          Pool expenses: Renting a large multi-family dwelling is often much more affordable than each family renting separately. Save even more money by taking turns with preparing meals instead of eating out. •           Don’t Wait: Many people like to vacation during July and August, but if you have kids that get out of school in June, go early. Peak prices usually take effect the week right before Independence Day. •           Vacation in your own hometown: Many … …continue

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Looking Out For You

Looking Out For You: Debit & Credit Card Protection . . .  Call us if you plan to travel or make a special purchase with your credit or debit card. We continue to strengthen all facets of our debit and credit card security to provide the greatest level of protection on your card transactions. Our multifaceted system for monitoring transactions enables us to decline possible fraudulent activity BEFORE it can disrupt your account. The system works by identifying transactions outside your normal purchasing pattern – for instance, expensive, unusual, or out-of-state purchases. We also use a process called “Name Matching” to verify transactions. If a name is sent with an authorization attempt it’s immediately compared to the name(s) on the account with our card processor. If the names do not match, the transaction will decline. Important: If you have a transaction decline inadvertently, simply call the number on the back … …continue

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