The summer of the savvy spender

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“This is the summer of the savvy spender,” said William S. Wallace, president, Chase Card Services.

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“This is the summer of the savvy spender,” said William S. Wallace, president, Chase Card Services. “Consumers want to have more fun this summer, but they also want to spend responsibly and get the most out of every dollar they spend, whether it’s taking a trip closer to home or using a financial product that rewards them for purchases they’re making.”

Despite widespread economic concerns, fewer Americans are planning to skip summer outings this year compared to last year, according to a new poll released today by Chase Card Services, a division of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and US News & World Report. The Chase Freedom-US News Consumer Monitor found that with more than 8 in 10 Americans planning to use their car the same or more than they did last summer, consumers are keenly focused on getting the most out of every travel purchase.

The survey revealed Americans are planning a summer of fun, full of traditional activities with family and friends that require more time behind the wheel than last year. Moreover, the findings highlight the types of rewards consumers are interested in earning for such travel purchases. By more than a three-to-one margin, consumers found 5 percent cash back the most appealing rewards program when considering which credit card reward program to choose.

While economic uncertainty continues to influence consumer behavior, the survey revealed 36 percent of respondents believe their personal finances have already bottomed out and are getting better. Similarly, 62 percent believed they are at least mostly in control of their personal finances.

The Chase Freedom-US News Consumer Monitor, fielded by Ipsos Public Affairs, surveyed 1,000 adults nationwide about their travel plans, spending, and general economic outlook this summer. The results include trended data from the Chase Consumer Spending & Saving Survey, fielded by Braun Research in May 2009.

Fewer Americans are depriving themselves of summertime activities compared to last year – 49 percent of respondents are not planning on skipping their vacation this summer. The most popular activities planned for this summer include taking a road trip (55 percent) and trips to the beach (48 percent). Movies (53 percent), summer music concerts (38 percent), and minor league baseball games (26 percent) are closer-to-home activities that are also high on the agenda for many consumers this summer. Americans’ concern about the economy persists from last year’s “staycation summer,” but fewer are willing to scale back their own plans.

Americans between the ages of 35 to 44 are the most likely to plan to take a vacation this summer (57 percent) and second-most likely to plan a road trip (59 percent) or an outing to the beach (56 percent).

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