That post-vacation return to reality might be even more of a jolt once you see the credit card bill.
A little more than two-thirds of vacationers said they overspend on vacation, according to a new Experian survey of 1,000 adults. Half said they spent so much that they accumulated credit card debt.
Credit cards are often travelers' first choice of payment while on vacation. According to the Experian survey, they beat out cash and debit cards as the most-used method for lodging (68 percent), airfare (67 percent), entertainment (47 percent) and dining (40 percent).
"If you're not going to overspend, a credit card is the tool to use," said Odysseas Papadimitriou, chief executive of CardHub.com. Protections against theft and fraud are stronger, foreign currency exchange rates are superior and there are often money-saving cardholder perks like free checked baggage and car rental insurance coverage. "There is no other spending vehicle that comes close," he said.
But accumulated debt doesn't bode well for consumers. In the first quarter of 2015, the average household had $7,177 in credit card debt, according to CardHub.com data. That's $339 less than in the fourth quarter of 2014, but up $254 year over year. Overspending on vacation puts consumers in a more precarious position to rack up debt during the holiday season and carry even higher balances into 2016, said Papadimitriou.