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This oft-revised article first appeared as an editorial in Home At First's "HomEzine" internet newsletter in September, 2006.

 

WHY NO CREDIT CARDS?

     One of the questions we get asked most is "Will you charge our trip to our credit card?" When we answer, "Sorry, we don’t accept credit cards," we know the answer raises some flags. Some first-time travelers with Home At First wonder what kind of company doesn’t take credit cards. Maybe we’re one of those fly-by-night outfits that will take your money and default on delivering the travel we have promised. (We’re not. We’ve been around since the early 80’s, and we’ve outlasted a lot of big names in the travel business, including Pan Am, Swissair, Sabena, TWA, British Caledonian, and Braniff. We’re still flying, even if they’re not.)
        It’s not entirely accurate to state that Home At First doesn’t accept credit cards for payment. We do accept them for domestic airline tickets. In addition, if you’re willing to pay a fare increase of approximately $75 per ticket for international flight tickets, we’ll accept your credit card for payment for that portion of our travel package, too. Otherwise, however, we do not accept credit card payment for any other portion of our travel packages. There are two principal reasons:

1. COST TO THE CONSUMER. If we accept credit cards for payment, the cost of everyone’s trip goes up. Credit card companies charge a fee for each transaction. More labor and record keeping would add more cost to your trip. Travel costs have steadily risen — sometimes for unavoidable reasons, like the increased cost of jet fuel, sometimes for debatable reasons (new and increased taxes on air travel, rental cars, and lodgings), and, sometimes for "convenience".
     We could build all kinds of "conveniences" into our trip packages: upgraded airline seating, mandatory trip insurance, cell phone rental, automatic transmission rental cars, and, yes, credit card acceptance. Each of these conveniences appeals to a portion of our clientele, but not one of them appeals to all of our customers. Therefore, we make most of them extra-cost options Home At First travelers can elect to add to their trips. But, because credit card acceptance would require establishing a new bureaucracy at Home At First, the cost of its operation would necessarily be borne by all customers, whether they buy by credit card or not. And, we want less bureaucracy and the lowest possible prices, not more bureaucracy and higher prices for every customer.
     Show us a way to accept credit cards without adding costs and levels of bureaucracy and we MIGHT be interested. But probably not. That’s because of reason number two:

2. CREDIT CARDS MAKE BUYING LUXURIES TOO EASY. Watch out — here comes some unconventional — some will say heretical — philosophy. Home At First produces, sells, and services great travel products, and they’re all luxuries.
     Almost every customer we have ever heard from agrees that their Home At First trip was an excellent vacation and an excellent value. Some of our guests tell us their Home At First trips are among their favorite experiences — ever. A few have told us their trips changed their lives. We love hearing these things, and we believe that what we do would be a great experience for most (but not all) people. But overseas travel is not cheap. And it is not vital.
     We know that America has a credit card addiction. We have made it too easy to buy things we cannot afford and should not buy. You’ve seen many examples of this addiction. Too many people owe too much money on pricey cars they shouldn’t have bought or leased, on cell phone plans they shouldn’t have agreed to, on boats and plasma TVs and oversized homes they couldn’t really afford, and even on prestigious schools they chose in a moment of irrationality.
     Credit cards have made it too easy to live beyond our means. They have inflicted more pain on our society than we know. They have seriously weakened our willpower. Some top economists believe that the greatest risk to the world economy doesn’t come from terrorism, wars, the threat of pandemics, the rise of China, or climate change. They believe the greatest danger facing the world’s economy is America’s huge debt, its imbalance of payments, its practice of consuming beyond its means, and the mortgaging of its future.
     Home At First’s trips are a great value, but they’re not cheap. They will provide you some of the great experiences of your lives. But you should not sacrifice more than you can afford to travel with Home At First or any travel company. So, be prepared to write us your personal check. If it bounces, you don’t go. In our way of thinking, that’s much preferable to your using your credit card, going on one of our trips, but suffering debt you shouldn’t take on.

-------------------

Ron Fahnestock
Editor


This year, give yourself a gift you’ll always remember: make a dream come true.
But, make sure you can afford it first — so your dream doesn't become a nightmare.
Home At First provides affordable, flexible, independent travel
tailored to you
r goals and budget at dream locations throughout
IRELAND & BRITAIN, PARIS & FRANCE, SCANDINAVIA, ICELAND, BERMUDA, & NEW ZEALAND.
Talk with
Home At First
toll-free at (800) 523-5842 (USA & Canada residents only),
or learn about us here on the web.

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