Had enough of this never-ending winter? Pushed to the brink by minus double digits? Going to scream if you hear the term “polar vortex” one last time? You, my friend, are in need of a warm-weather vacation.
But while pristine beaches and never-ending mai tais may be just what the doctor ordered, there’s some sobering news for Canadians looking to take flight – getting out of dodge is pricier than ever this winter.
Sliding Dollar Hikes Winter Vacation Costs
While December through April are the most sought-after (and expensive) travel months to begin with (unless you don’t mind a hurricane cramping your beach-side style), there are more nefarious economic forces affecting your vacation budget this year – namely the nose-diving Loonie.
The Canadian dollar has taken a major slide as of the beginning of the year, dropping as low as $0.89 USD last week. While a weaker dollar is good news for the economy and our country’s flagging export industry, travellers are getting the rough end of the deal. Expect to pay more to exchange your Canadian cash, bigger hotel bills, and steeper vacation packages.
Prepare To Pay Up For Currency Surcharges
If this hit to our purchasing power wasn’t bad enough, airlines and vacation package providers have started tacking currency surcharges onto their prices. The charge is about $35, and so far Air Canada Vacations, Transat A.T. and Sunwing Vacations have rolled it into their pricing.
According to the airlines, the charge is to bump up what they claim are lagging profit margins, as they purchase their packages at U.S. dollars, and sell to the customer at close to cost.
So what is a snow-cornered Canadian to do to?
Offset Costs With Travel Rewards
This is where a credit card with plush travel perks can really come in handy and boost your affordability. Remember the three golden rules when it comes to collecting travel rewards:
1. High Earning Potential: Choose a card that earns travel rewards on all your purchases – like gas and groceries – and earns multiple points per dollar. The faster you can accumulate points, the sooner you’ll be able to cash in on that dream vacation. Scoring big point bonuses upon signup also never hurts.
2. Ease Of Redemption: There’s nothing more frustrating than navigating customer service red tape when booking a vacation. Many of the latest cards on the market have ditched reserved seating and airline restrictions in favour of flexible booking – as long as you’ve used your card to pay for your travel purchases, points can be redeemed.
3. Comprehensive Coverage: A good travel rewards card comes stocked with the travel insurance you’ll need, including travel medical coverage, trip cancellation and delay, baggage loss and rental car insurance. Having coverage built in to your card can mean saving on having to take out additional policies for your trip – but be sure to check your credit card’s policy thoroughly to ensure there aren’t any gaps in your coverage.
Penelope’s Pick: The Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card
This card earns points fast – up to four per every dollar spent on gas, grocery, dining and entertainment, and earns one point on the dollar for everything else. The $99 annual fee is waived for the first year AND new signups score $150 in bonus points upon first purchase. Booking your vacay will be a breeze with Scotia’s flexible redemption model – just use your card to book and apply your points.
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It also features excellent travel insurance coverage, including:
Trip interruption or cancellation insurance
Travel medical insurance
Travel accident insurance
Rental vehicle insurance
Purchase protection and extended warranty
Flight delay insurance