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Summer is finally here, and so begins the season of long travel and family vacations. Approximately 52% of American families take at least one vacation between the months of May and August, which means that quite a bit of money is spent on both domestic and international travel.

Unfortunately, traveling with only cash and checks in your wallet is not recommended. Whether you plan to rent cars, fly on airplanes or stay in hotels, travel is always easier if you have a credit card at your disposal. Even if you only use it for the big purchases – like rental cars and airlines – your travel experience will be much smoother if you have plastic.

For one thing, plastic allow you to easily document each transaction. When you purchase an airline ticket, a record of that purchase is made with your card company, and you can refer to that record if anything goes wrong. Flights are canceled every day, so you'll want to plan for every contingency.

Credit cards are also easier to keep track of than large wads of cash or a bulky check book. When you visit theme parks and other tourist destinations, you can slip a card or two into a fanny pack, a pocket or a zippered compartment of your purse. It doesn't add much weight and is about fifteen times less likely to be stolen than a protruding stack of paper bills.

So how do you choose a credit card for summer vacations? If you're going to be charging your purchases, you should at least reap the rewards of the best offers available. Earning airline miles, cash back and reward points can making using plastic much more enticing. And since vacations are inevitably expensive, you might as well get something back for your efforts!

Chase Flexible Rewards Platinum Visa

Most offers have very specific reward programs that allow you to redeem points only at specific locations or with certain vendors. The Chase Flexible Rewards card is a bit more diverse. With this offer, however, you earn one reward point for every dollar spent (as well as 1,000 bonus points after your first purchase) and the points can be redeemed with a variety of merchants rather than just one or two. You can get cash back, gift certificates, or free travel, whichever works best for you. Customers also enjoy a 0% introductory APR and no annual fee.

HSBC MasterCard

This card is a cash back offer that allows customers to earn 1% cash back on all purchases. This card is especially appealing because of its low APR; 0% for the first twelve months, and then a low ongoing rate. You also get travel accident insurance as a platinum benefit, which can be beneficial if you plan on taking lots of vacations this summer.

Blue Sky from American Express

This card has been getting a lot of media attention because of it's travel rewards program. Customers receive one reward point for every dollar they spend, and the points can be redeemed for savings on airline tickets. It comes with no annual fee and a 0% interest rate for the first six months .. It is surprisingly easy to earn points, as well. If you save 7,500 points, for example, you can redeem them for $ 100 off your next airline ticket.

Summer vacations are made easier by carrying a credit card with you instead of cash or a checkbook, and you can even earn rewards for purchases made with certain credit cards. Take a look at three top picks for credit cards to use while on vacation.

Credit Cards for Summer Vacations

Credit Cards for Summer Vacations