A new survey by Comparecards shows nearly one in three will lean on rewards this year to pay for their summer vacation travel.

“An awful lot of people are using rewards points to save themselves an awful lot of money on their summer vacation,” said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst for Comparecards.

The survey of more than 1,000 people revealed just how much consumers rely on rewards to help pay for travel.

Some key findings:

- 64 per cent say they will fund vacation with rewards

- 20 per cent expect rewards to pay half the cost

- 75 per cent say rewards affect vacation plans

“Yeah, sometimes I’ll see where my points can take me and I’ll pick the best route,” said one man CTV News stopped to talk to on Vancouver’s Robson Street.

“I like to use that one credit card for everything practically,” said another woman.

Rewards cards also offer other perks. The Visa Infinite Privilege card allows you to jump the queue for security screening at Vancouver International Airport. Don’t forget to check for other benefits, like lounge access, free inflight services, and trip cancellation insurance.

And when you accumulate enough points, use them.

“Rewards points are a depreciating asset, so hoarding them for years and years really isn’t the best idea your best move is to get those points and use them as soon as you can to save yourself that money,” said Schulz.

Beware of racking up charges to build points. If you can’t pay the balance the cost of the interest could outweigh the value of the points.

Also, using rewards points effectively takes some planning. If you’re tempted to get one of those credit cards that offer thousands of points when you sign up, apply far in advance of any vacation time. It can take time to get your application approved and time to get the card. Typically, you have to charge thousands of dollars within a few months and pay off the balance before the points are awarded.

It can work well if you’ve budgeted for some large purchases and if you use that card to pay for everything; including subscriptions, groceries, and bills.

And it’s not just credit cards that can help pay the way. Loyalty programs with hotels, rental car companies and airlines also help to reduce the costs of vacation. Again, let the best value destination guide you to make the most of what they have to offer.