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A couple stands on the shore of a mountain lake. To their left, there is a checklist of relationship milestones: Travel together. Meet the family. Discuss finances.

Love’s milestones: travel, money, and meeting the family

A new Wells Fargo survey shows how millennial couples bond over travel, family, spending habits, and credit card points.

February 14, 2019

Becca Siegel and Dan Gold (known as travel couple @halfhalftravel on social media) have built a relationship and a business on traveling the world one country at a time — by plane, train, bus, boat, or rental car. Sometimes together, other times apart, they have forged a personal and financial life together across thousands of miles.

The millennial couple, who operate a New York-based travel Instagram account and blog, said they knew from the beginning that, for them, life was about more than just money — it was also about experiences. But they also knew they needed to have cash and spend it smartly to finance these experiences.

“When we met, we discovered we had the same views on saving and spending money,” Siegel said. “In the first few months of dating, we realized we both minimized spending on material things. We liked to invest in experiences that will enrich us emotionally; meaningful things like travel. Three years later, it’s something we still do today.”

Like many millennials, Siegel and Gold found traveling together helped elevate their relationship to the next level. In fact, a growing number of millennials regard traveling together as a key indicator of where their relationship stands, according to a new survey conducted by Ogilvy Research & Intelligence on behalf of Wells Fargo’s Propel® Card1.

Dan Gold and Becca Siegel are in a split screen that combines photos of them that makes it appear they are standing together on travel to different countries. Gold stands on a mountain side with ocean behind him; Siegel, on a mountain overlook site
Millennial couple Dan Gold and Becca Siegel on travel in Portugal and Spain, respectively, posted this creatively combined photo on their website. Photo courtesy of Dan Gold and Becca Siegel

“For millennials, travel is on par with meeting each other’s families as a relationship milestone,” the study said.

The survey, which queried 1,000 millennials ages 22 to 39, highlighted the relationship rules, spending habits, and credit card practices across a relationship’s span of time, from first date to a lasting partnership.

For Wells Fargo, the survey results helped inform and reinforce its strategy for the latest Propel Card, which the company introduced last year with enhanced rewards points.

“We designed this survey to provide a look into our customers’ spending habits in their relationships,” said Beverly Anderson, Wells Fargo’s head of Cards and Retail Services. “The Propel Card was specifically designed to reward people for things they are already doing — from dining out or eating in, to popular streaming services, to getting to work — and we wanted to see how they spend and earn their rewards points.”

For customers Gold and Siegel, using credit card rewards points was a financial part of their relationship DNA from the start. The travel points were especially helpful to Gold, who was still paying student loan debt when they met in 2016.

“To be smart about my finances, I always had to consider that in my monthly spending and saving,” he said. “We were both new to booking flights with travel rewards and using credit cards to assist. But we knew this was something we wanted to get really good at doing.”

And their points awareness didn’t end with travel rewards: On their fourth date, Siegel recalled, the couple had a milestone moment at a restaurant when the server brought their check.

“Instead of one of us romantically offering to pay, we both looked at each other and said, ‘But I want the points,’” she said. “This started our tradition of using credit whenever possible and figuring out ways to maximize earning points.”

Many millennials can relate, according to the Wells Fargo survey. It found that 38 percent of millennials began splitting the dinner check within the first six months of their relationship, and 48 percent would gladly pay for date night because of the credit card points they would earn.

While Gold and Siegel now routinely use credit cards — including the Propel Card — to pay for almost all of their purchases, they said they never spend beyond their means, thanks to an upbringing that taught strong financial responsibility and work ethic.

“We both learned about the importance of working, saving, and financial responsibility from our parents and grandparents,” Siegel said. “But we are more liberal than our parents when it comes to investments and the use of credit cards with rewards points. We see the long-term benefits of credit cards for travelers, and that helps us prioritize the opportunities that we find.”

Dan Gold and Becca Siegel are in a split screen photo that shows Gold in Columbia looking into the distance at a mountain range, and Siegel overlooking a valley town amid mountains in Spain.
In a trip to Columbia, Gold overlooks a mountain range, and Siegel spends part of her travel in Spain viewing a valley vista. Photo courtesy of Dan Gold and Becca Siegel

Other survey findings:

  • Traveling together should happen within the first year of dating, according to 83 percent of survey respondents.
  • Eighty-seven percent of millennials say meeting a partner’s family should happen in the first year of a relationship.
  • Almost half of millennials — 42 percent — say booking travel together is a sign of seriousness in a relationship.
  • Seventy-four percent of couples are planning a vacation together in the next 12 months.

Disclosures

1 The Propel Card, named arguably the best no-fee personal credit card in 2019 by Business Insider, offers one of the industry’s top rewards points programs:

3x points on food and drink — eating out and ordering in at restaurants from fast food to fine dining.

3x points on ride and drive — including transit, car rentals, gas stations, ride sharing, railways, parking, taxis and tolls, and more.

3x points on fly and stay — including flights, hotels and homestays, cruises, and more.

3x points on popular streaming services.

1x points on other purchases.

No foreign currency conversion fee.

Access to exclusive presales tickets, offers, and protections from American Express.

No limits on the points that can be earned, and no points expiration as long as the account remains open.

No blackout dates on air travel when redeemed through Go Far® Rewards  — and can be used with a combination of points and a payment card.

Note: Eligible new Wells Fargo Propel® cardholders earn 30,000 bonus points (a $300 cash redemption value) after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Contributors: Christopher Frers
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