5 ways to save money on summer vacation

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Summer vacation may seem like it’s a long way off, but now’s the time to figure out how you’re going to pay for it. I’m Clark Palmer with your Bankrate.com personal finance minute.

If you’re willing to travel on different days of the week you may be able to get lower airfare or less-expensive hotel rates. But if you wait too long to book your trip, you might miss out on some great rates.

Consumer loyalty programs are another place where you can find savings. For example, AAA offers hotel discounts ranging from 5 to 20 percent. Marriot rewards members receive a monthly email and newsletter with exclusive offers.

You can also find vacation savings through reward credit cards. Even if you’re starting from scratch, small rewards such as cash back or points for free gasoline are within reach, according to bankrate.com senior financial analyst Greg Mcbride.

Finally, consider staying in a vacation rental property over a hotel. They cost 50 to 80 percent less than the average hotel, according to research by vacation rental company Homeaway.

For more information on vacation savings, visit Bankrate.com. I’m Clark Palmer.