Discover Survey Finds Age May Be a Factor in Where and How People Vacation This Summer

May 21, 2018

Credit Cards Are the Preferred Method of Payment for Vacationers, but Many Don’t Cash in on Opportunities to Earn and Redeem Rewards

RIVERWOODS, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- As summer vacation season approaches, a new survey from Discover found that for the 58 percent of those who intend to take a summer trip, where they go, how they pay and what they do while on vacation may be a factor of their age.

The national survey of 1,100 U.S. adults ages 18 and over found that travel preferences vary from generation to generation. Members of generation Z, ages 18-21, are looking for an adrenaline rush on their next vacation, with 30 percent saying adventure is their top travel priority, compared to 8 percent of millennials, ages 22-37; 10 percent of generation X, ages 38-53; 7 percent of baby boomers, ages 54-72; and 9 percent of the silent generation, ages 73 and up.

For millennials who are planning a summer vacation, spending time with friends and family is their highest priority at 28 percent, while relaxation is the main driver for generation X at 34 percent. Baby boomers and the silent generation say spending time with friends and family—36 percent and 46 percent, respectively—matters most. Exploring a new city or destination tops the list for 24 percent of all respondents.


Of the following, what do you want MOST when it comes to your next trip or vacation?


Age Groups

    Total     Gen Z     Millennials     Gen X     Boomers     Silent Gen


    27%     14%     24%     34%     30%     12%


    10%     30%     8%     10%     7%     9%

To explore a new city/destination

    24%     22%     26%     23%     22%     27%

An exciting nightlife

    2%     2%     2%     3%     1%     -

Practice my passion (e.g., photography, yoga)

    2%     -     4%     1%     3%     2%

A volunteer/social purpose

    1%     -     4%     -     -     -

Spend time with friends and family

    30%     22%     28%     24%     36%     46%


    3%     9%     4%     3%     1%     5%

Beach Is Best, unless You’re Older

Most of those planning a summer vacation want to feel the sand between their toes, as 26 percent of all respondents said the beach is their preferred destination. However, many older respondents would trade their beach chairs for the open road or sea, as a higher percentage of baby boomers, 27 percent, picked a road trip as their preferred vacation, and a cruise was the most popular choice among the silent generation at 29 percent.


If you had to choose from the following, what would your MOST preferred type of trip or vacation be?


Age Groups

    Total     Gen Z     Millennials     Gen X     Boomers     Silent Gen

A road trip

    16%     8%     11%     11%     27%     19%

A cruise

    11%     13%     6%     10%     11%     29%

An outdoor adventure (e.g., camping, national park visit)

    13%     13%     14%     13%     14%     9%

A beach vacation

    26%     22%     30%     31%     21%     22%

An urban/big city vacation

    11%     11%     17%     15%     5%     5%

A lake house vacation

    10%     8%     11%     8%     11%     10%

A "staycation"

    6%     8%     7%     8%     4%     3%


    7%     16%     4%     5%     8%     5%

Youngest Travelers Prefer to Pay with Cash

Those planning a summer trip say credit cards are the preferred way to pay while on vacation at 46 percent, according to the survey, followed by 25 percent who favor paying with debit cards, 24 percent with cash and 3 percent with checks or traveler’s checks. However, payment preferences vary by generation. Cash is the preferred payment method while on vacation for generation Z at 35 percent. On the other end of the age spectrum, 60 percent of baby boomers and 68 percent of the silent generation favor paying with credit cards.


What is your MOST preferred method of payment while on a trip or vacation?


Age Groups

    Total     Gen Z     Millennials     Gen X     Boomers     Silent Gen


    24%     35%     27%     27%     16%     18%

Credit card

    46%     16%     41%     38%     60%     68%

Debit card

    25%     33%     25%     29%     22%     10%

Checks/traveler’s checks

    3%     8%     5%     2%     2%     4%


    2%     8%     2%     4%     -     -

Despite the preference for paying with credit cards while on vacation, 30 percent of those planning a summer trip say they do not have a credit card that earns rewards. More than a quarter, 26 percent, say they don’t redeem their credit card rewards for vacation-related expenses, including 32 percent of baby boomers and 51 percent of the silent generation—the generations that said they use credit cards the most while on vacation.


How often, if ever, do you redeem credit card points/rewards for trip or vacation-related expenses?


Age Groups

    Total     Gen Z     Millennials     Gen X     Boomers     Silent Gen

Never, I use my points/rewards for other purposes

    26%     23%     22%     18%     32%     51%

Less than once a year

    20%     26%     21%     18%     19%     15%

Once a year

    15%     10%     16%     17%     14%     8%

2 to 3 times per year

    7%     -     8%     8%     9%     2%

4 or more times per year

    3%     2%     4%     3%     2%     2%

Not applicable - I do not have a points/rewards credit card

    30%     40%     29%     37%     24%     23%

“This survey shows that there is no one-size-fits-all summer vacation regardless of your age or preference for travel,” said Emina Dautovic, senior marketing manager at Discover. “Wherever your summer travel takes you, there’s an opportunity to earn rewards on travel-related and everyday purchases by using a travel credit card. From airfare and hotels to gas and groceries, the rewards you earn can be put toward the cost of your next vacation.”

The Discover it® Miles travel credit card features no annual fee1, unlimited 1.5 Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases, a match of all the Miles cardmembers earn at the end of their first year2, plus no blackout dates—cardmembers just buy their tickets and use their Miles to credit their statement. For more information go to

About the Survey

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,110 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken from April 26-27, 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all U.S. adults (aged 18+). The maximum margin of sampling error was ±3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

About Discover

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a direct banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company issues the Discover card, America's cash rewards pioneer, and offers private student loans, personal loans, home equity loans, checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit through its direct banking business. It operates the Discover Global Network comprised of Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation's leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance in 190 countries and territories. For more information, visit

1Discover it® Miles: Intro purchase APR is 0% for 14 months; then the standard purchase APR applies. Intro Balance Transfer APR is 10.99% for 14 months; then the standard purchase APR applies. Standard Purchase APR: 13.49% to 24.49% variable. Cash APR: 26.49% variable. Call 1-800-DISCOVER for details about credit costs and terms.

2Discover Match®: Only from Discover, as of March 2018. No purchase minimums. After the first 12 consecutive billing periods that your new account is open, we will match all the Miles you've earned and apply them to your account in the following one or two billing periods. If your account is closed or no longer in the Miles reward program at the time we calculate your potential award, your Miles will not be matched. You've earned Miles rewards when they have posted to your account by the end of the 12th consecutive billing period. This promotional offer may not be offered in the future. This exclusive offer is available only to new cardmembers.

Jeremy Borling
Follow us: @Discover_News

Source: Discover Financial Services