Wealthy vacationers reach for the plastic

Americans' annual marches to beach resorts, lakeside cabins, and national parks are under way. And many will be paid for with credit cards.

Slightly more than half of all Americans plan to take a vacation more than 75 miles from home this year, and a quarter of them will be charging their trips, according to a survey by Cambridge Consumer Credit Index.

Those traveling on credit are not the young and penniless. Older and wealthier Americans use their cards far more often to pay for vacations, says the survey. Among those age 65 or older, 40 percent are putting their holiday expenses on plastic, while 38 percent of workers earning more than $75,000 are doing so.

According to the Credit Counseling Service of Southern New England, incentives like free airline miles are driving consumers to use their cards for major purchases.

The data was collected from a monthly nationwide telephone poll of more than 1,000 adults. It was sponsored by The Debt Relief Clearinghouse, a debt-solutions provider.

The organization points out that card-charged vacations are just part of many Americans' growing willingness to take on significant amounts of debt.

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