The value outweighs the concern of a pandemic as People wish to ebook journeys once more

56 percent of travelers told Discover that they will be using contactless payment methods more often when traveling this year.

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Most of the news about travel may have focused on health and safety since the pandemic over a year ago. However, cost and booking flexibility are even more important for Americans who want to get away from it all, according to Discover Financial Services.

The credit card company’s latest annual travel survey, published Tuesday, shows that the 70% of consumers willing to travel put price and flexibility in consideration of the spread of Covid variants, travel destination infection rates or cleanliness ratings of accommodation when considering a trip. In addition, 87% of respondents said that cost was an important factor when booking, and 86% said the flexibility of the cancellation policy.

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Health and safety concerns, meanwhile, lagged behind the price, but not by much: 80% now pointed to news about Covid variants and / or the number of new infections at a destination, and 74% said they made disinfection efforts a priority would allow a choice of accommodation.

“It is clear that as the summer months begin and the economic recovery continues, consumers have a strong desire to travel again,” said Jacob Ayoub, Vice President of Consumer and Competitive Insights at Discover, in a statement. “We know that travel trends and consumer needs will continue to shift, but it’s important to note that US consumers are currently considering cost, flexibility and the spread of Covid-19 while traveling.”

The survey also looked at which Americans travel and why (see graph below).

Who is traveling … and why

66% of consumers plan to travel 1 to 6 days and they travel:

  • Relax: 37%
  • To visit family and friends: 18%
  • For a change of scenery: 10%

This is how the interest in family travel compares to adventure travel among the generations:

  • Baby boomers: 28% family, 7% adventure
  • Generation X: 18% family, 10% adventure
  • Millennials: 12% family, 12% adventure
  • Gen Z: 9% family, 21% adventure

Source: Discover Financial Services / Dynata survey, April 2021

In some cases, willingness to spend more is related to health and safety concerns. For example, half of all respondents told Discover that they would be more likely to go for more expensive trips if they included stricter Covid-19 hygiene protocols, and 49% would invest in priority passports to avoid crowds. Two out of three travelers surveyed said they continued to wear masks when traveling – even if they weren’t required to.

When it comes to paying, 55% of Discover travelers told Discover that credit cards are the preferred method – a 16 point jump from 2019. This could be related to another survey finding that 56% are more likely to use contactless payment options while on the road.

“For many consumers, the pandemic may have changed the way they pay for items,” Ayoub told CNBC. “Consumers may feel more comfortable using digital payment options like contactless credit cards because they are quick, easy and secure.”

Speaking of credit cards: around a third of those surveyed also stated that they redeem card loyalty points for holiday-related expenses. “Consumers may also have seen their credit card points stack up during the pandemic and may be trying to redeem those rewards as the world reopens,” noted Ayoub. “In our travel survey, 34% of consumers say they will be using credit card points and rewards for vacation-related expenses in the next six months.”

Research firm Dynata conducted the survey for Discover Financial Services April 23-28 of 2,000 US adults aged 18 and over.

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