Boosted by an improving economy and pent-up wanderlust, American tourists plan on spending up to 40 percent more on their next international trips. This figure comes from the Global Travel Intentions Study 2013, commissioned by Visa, which also reports that 81 percent of U.S. travelers prefer to use credit cards when traveling overseas. Mexico and Canada topped Americans' travel wish lists, with survey respondents telling researchers they preferred foreign destinations that featured good weather and access to cultural experiences.
To compile their findings, researchers conducted surveys with more than 12,000 travelers in the United States, Europe and Asia during the last few months of 2012. Respondents from countries outside the U.S. told researchers that they expected to spend an average of just 4.6 percent on upcoming international travel. The difference between domestic and global travel budgets reflects a strengthening U.S. dollar, as well as a resurgence in overseas trips after years of scaled-back, domestic vacations.
American survey respondents said they planned to spend about $3,500 on their next overseas trip, with more than half that amount earmarked for dining and shopping. Compared to their global counterparts, American tourists said they were more likely to rely on their credit cards for security and for budget tracking during their trips. Americans also assert their independence when planning vacations, with 4 out of 5 survey respondents planning to use online booking resources instead of traditional travel agents when finalizing their itineraries.
The travel rewards card market has reflected this growing shift toward online booking, with many banks offering both traditional airline credit cards and more flexible rewards points programs. Capital One, Discover and Pentagon Federal Credit Union do not have foreign transaction fees on their consumer credit cards, eliminating service charges that can cost travelers as much as 5 percent of their purchases through competing banks. American Express, Chase and Citi have also dropped foreign transaction fees on some of their travel rewards cards, especially accounts aimed at frequent business travelers.