So far this year, I’ve spent way more than should be legal on my wedding. But it’s not all bad! I’ve put most of that on credit cards trying to maximize my earning potential when it comes to points and miles. You see, I’ve figured out first hand that expenses can add up quickly when planning a wedding, but using the right credit cards for wedding and honeymoon purchases can pay off big time for future travel.
Including bonuses, I’ve earned:
Breaking that down further, I applied for and got The Platinum Card by American Express and earned 60K bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first three months (that’s nothing when planning a wedding).
Most of the UR points have come from spend on the Chase Freedom Unlimited which earns 1.5% back on every purchase (a very lucrative card for earning UR points and a good option for an ‘everyday spend’ card).
I got my Barclays points by using my Arrival Plus card to earn 2 points for every dollar I spent.
Of course, along with a few very generous gifts, I have saved a sh*tload over the past 15 months which has allowed me to pay off each credit card payment in full. I’ve told you guys this before, but it’s worth repeating: do not try to take advantage of travel rewards if you are in any kind of credit card debt. It’s not worth it. Pay off your debt before travel hacking.
However, if you are (credit card) debt free, the sky’s the limit! With that said, here are some tips to get the most out of your credit cards, miles, and points for the big purchases you’re destined to make for your big day.
Big purchases are perfect for someone trying to earn a welcome bonus. No matter what program you’re trying to earn the bonus at, use that card for some and/or all of the price of the ring.
On a side note, if you’re new to travel hacking and/or credit cards in general, something you’ll have to get used to at first is getting approved for credit cards but with a low amount of credit. I say this because if, for example, you want to buy a $5,000 ring, you may not be able to afford the whole thing on one credit card.
Having said that, a credit card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited is be a pretty good option for this kind of purchase, too. Like I said, an earning rate of 1.5 points per dollar spent is a great deal for Ultimate Rewards points. Using the Chase Freedom Unlimited would also allow you to transfer the points you earn from that account to either the the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve - which can get you even more lucrative travel rewards.
If you’re more interested in a cash back card, one like Barclays’ new Arrival Premier or the Capital One Venture - both of which earn two points per dollar - are good options.
Much like the engagement ring, to maximize point earning, putting the cost of the ceremony on a card that earns more than one point per dollar is a good idea. Depending on where your ceremony is, it may be possible to earn two points per dollar on a card like the Citi Prestige, especially if the venue you choose falls under the “entertainment” category.
This is where most of your money will probably go. Trust me when I say, complimentary food, alcohol, and more adds up extremely quickly. The first question you need to answer is, where will you have your reception at?
If you plan on having it at a restaurant, putting the payments on a card like the Sapphire Reserve - which gets three points per dollar on dining - is a great idea.
On the other hand, if you plan on having it at a hotel, you may want to think about putting some (or all) of the cost on the appropriate co-branded hotel credit card. Not only that, but separate from credit card purchases, couples may also be able to earn at least one point per dollar spent on room rental, food, beverage, and stays. If you go that route, you’d get the points once the contract is signed. So doing something like this can be extremely lucrative. Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, and IHG all offer wedding planning options.
You’ll probably begin to sense a theme here, but believe it or not, things like invitations, flowers, suits, dresses, decorations, gifts, and whatever else there is that you may need...er, want... for your wedding add up quickly! So think about what you'd like to get out of the spending and put the purchases on that (or those) card(s).
Another word of advice: I would highly recommend taking advantage of shopping portals to stack your point earnings with many of these purchases. Many airlines and hotels have shopping portals. Banks do as well. And recently, I’ve also seen apps that you can download to your computer browser to get additional points when buying things.
Narrowing down your destination list is the hardest part about deciding where to go! Do you head to the Caribbean? Mediterranean? Maldives? Bora Bora? Seychelles? Hawaii? Europe? All of them?! I think I just heard Crystal scream "yes!" to the last one, which is weird, because I'm typing this (i.e. not saying it out loud). Anyways, once you figure that out, you can figure out what points you need.
If, on the other hand, you’re not planning on using the points you earned from all the purchases you just made for your wedding, you’ve got plenty of options at your disposal when it comes to credit card spending on your honeymoon. For example, Amex’s Platinum Card is great for buying airline tickets. That’s because it earns an astounding five points per dollar when bought directly from the airline. You also get plenty of hotel perks and lounge access which can make a special trip even... special-er?
The CSR is another good option for honeymoon spend. It gets three points per dollar spent on travel, a $300 travel credit every year, and gives you access to priority pass lounges. I reviewed it here.
If you’re not worried about getting the best bang for your buck, but want some sorta discount, cash back cards are absolutely fantastic for that. Not only are they simple to use (cash back in the form of statement credits) but they’re great for travel purchases that other travel credit cards wouldn’t necessarily cover. Say for example, you booked a honeymoon to Bora Bora. Well, you’ll need to get from the airport you land at in Tahiti to your resort in Bora Bora either by boat or plane. So you pay for a plane ride. You won’t be able to get reimbursed for that ride with a card like the Citi Prestige or the CSR. However, you can pay yourself back with the likes of a Capital One Venture card.
Oh, and FYI: for additional help, it certainly can’t hurt to ask for airline/hotel gift cards or money in your registry. Those can obviously go a long way in helping you pay for your honeymoon.
The massive amount of spending you do for a wedding is a huge opportunity that you won’t want to miss.
You’ll want to build a budget, save, apply for new credit cards if you want to, and then get ready to spend (your credit card may actually get hot from all the friction of swiping it). Also, make sure you pay off each credit card in full every month.
Having said that, I want to emphasize, again, that earning the most points you can may not be the best strategy for you. What do I mean by that? Well, simply put, I mean that it depends on your goals. What do you want to use the points/miles for? If your goal is to fly first class on Emirates (which is a great goal to have), you may be better off putting spending on a card that’ll get you closer to THAT goal - like Citi’s AAdvantage Platinum Select - instead a cash back card even if you end up leaving some miles/points on the table. Make sense?
You do it right, and you’ll get what you want out of this, whether it’s relaxing on a beach for a week or sipping wine in Italy for practically nothing! And who doesn’t want that??
Want to learn more about travel hacking? Well, it just so happens that I wrote a little book about just that! Go figure! It’s called “Cracking the Code to Travel Hacking.” You can learn more about it here if you’d like.
You may also like:
-Eight of the Best Beach Honeymoon Destinations Out There
-The Platinum Card by American Express: Review
-Best Credit Cards to Travel Abroad With