As Americans hit the road this summer, credit cards will be the most popular form of payment, a travel survey conducted by MasterCard International found.

The study indicates that 87% of the 500 respondents planning a vacation within the next six months will use a credit card for convenience, versus cash or checks.

Twenty-four percent said they would charge over $ 1,000.

Three-quarters of the respondents said they will take their time to pay off their debt, up to three months.

Many people plan to use credit cards on vacation for comfort and safety, said Gary Flood, MasterCard senior vice president, consumer credit card marketing, in the study. He pointed out that 38% of the respondents said the ability to question their charges made them more inclined to use plastic instead of cash.

"They Get More Protection'

Rose Green, travel consultant with World Travel Specialists of Mamaroneck, N.Y. said, "Seventy-five to 80% of our customers pay on credit cards for their vacations." Echoing Mr. Flood, Ms. Green added, "The reason is they get more protection with a credit card than if they pay cash."

Ms. Green said that some customers would prefer to use cash to avoid interest payments, but protection and extra insurance encourages charging.

Safety is also an issue. Mr. Flood said, "Thirty percent of respondents cited personal safety concerns as a reason for choosing credit cards over cash."

The survey was conducted by Gold MasterCard for MasterGuest, a core cardholder feature available on all U.S.-issued Gold MasterCard and MasterCard BusinessCards.

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