Maximizing points and miles when planning your wedding and honeymoon
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We know wedding and honeymoon plans have changed drastically due to COVID-19. Costs can add up quickly when you’re planning a wedding, but you can get extra benefits during this expensive time by using the right credit cards. You can manage payments for big-ticket items or build up points and miles toward future travel.
If you aren’t traveling quite as far as planned or hosting as large of an event, you can still take advantage of certain perks. Here’s a list of tips for maximizing your points, miles and credit cards for your wedding and honeymoon.
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If you’re buying an engagement ring, you’ll want to not only maximize credit rewards but also manage interest payments, especially if the ring is a pricey investment.
It’s important to consider whether you can pay your bill in full or whether you need to pay off the cost of the ring over time. If it’s the latter, plan to sign up for a card with an introductory APR offer on purchases.
One such card is the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which doesn’t have an annual fee and can earn you significant Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you also hold an Ultimate Rewards-earning card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. Plus, if you meet the $500 spending requirement within the first three months, you will earn $200.
So it’s best to buy the ring quickly after opening the card to take advantage of the bonus. The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a 0% intro APR for the first 15 months for new purchases, but then a variable APR of 14.99% – 23.74% applies.
If you can pay the ring off quickly and don’t need to worry about financing, booking on the Chase Sapphire Reserve isn’t the worst idea, because in many cases jewelry is included in their damage/theft insurance up to $10,000 (if specific requirements are met). Plus, you can earn Ultimate Rewards points to use for your honeymoon.
Likewise, premium cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express ($550 annual fee; see rates & fees) will cover up to $10,000 per occurrence (up to $50,000 per calendar year) if the ring gets stolen, lost or damaged (certain terms apply). Reading the fine print before getting the card (or buying the ring) will help you better understand which card may be the right fit for your situation. And remember, purchase protection policies won’t reimburse if she says no, so make sure to confirm with your ring merchant on any return terms — don’t count on a credit card for that.
Related reading: The best balance transfer credit cards
Use a card that offers bonus points on dining for your caterer or venue, if it’s considered a restaurant. Just keep in mind that earning bonus rewards on this expense depends on your caterer/venue coding as dining with the credit card issuer — if possible, try to make a small purchase or deposit in advance to confirm whether or not you’ll receive bonus points.
Remember, the below list can also be handy for the rehearsal dinner or any post-wedding events, such as a brunch you may have in a dining venue too.
Here are some of the best cards for dining purchases:
|Card||Bonus (return based on TPG’s valuations)||Annual fee|
|Citi Prestige® Card||5x (8.5%)||$495|
|American Express® Gold Card||4x (8%) at restaurants worldwide||$250 (see rates & fees)|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||3x (6%)||$550|
|Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card||7x (4.2%), only at U.S. restaurants||$450 (see rates & fees)|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||2x (4%)||$95|
|Uber Visa (cash back)||3%||$0|
|Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card (cash back)||4%||$95|
The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card, Citi Prestige Card, Uber Visa and Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Note that using the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card is ideal for entertainment purchases. You can earn 4% back if you choose to hold key wedding events at entertainment venues such as a concert hall, tourist attraction, theme park, aquarium, zoo, dance club, bowling alley or pool hall. We get that your dream wedding may not be at the pool hall, nightclub or bowling alley, but this is a great category to maximize post- or pre-wedding events or bachelor/bachelorette party celebrations. Plus, if you’re doing things a little differently due to COVID, you never know where you might end up having your wedding!
Related reading: The best credit cards for dining out, taking out and ordering in
It’s also worth checking an aggregator site like Cashback Monitor or EVReward when it comes to purchases like flowers, dresses/suits, favors, photo albums, wedding/engagement rings and invitations to earn the most bonus points possible via a shopping portal.
Although online flower retailers may charge more than a local florist, sometimes vendors offer between 1x and 15x miles per dollar with airline partners like American, Delta, United and others when purchased through their shopping portals.
Other vendors that commonly offer portal bonuses are David Yurman, Blue Nile, Nordstrom, ProFlowers, 1-800-Flowers, Snapfish, Shutterfly and many more. In fact, EVReward even has a gift section to browse through that includes many vendors commonly used for weddings. And stores like Macy’s, Saks and Bloomingdale’s often appear on shopping portals too, ideal for items like bridesmaid dresses, suits, footwear, bridal makeup/accessories and beyond.
The Amex Platinum card also comes with an up to $50 Saks credit twice per calendar year, useful towards items like makeup, suits, shoes or other wedding accessories. And don’t forget to check your Amex Offers, too!
Related reading: How to stack Saks Fifth Avenue deals to save big
The destination wedding
If you’re considering a destination wedding, most large hotel brands allow you to earn points for hosting your wedding at one of their hotels. You’ll usually earn points for money spent on room rental, food and beverage costs. You may even receive perks like a complimentary guest room on your wedding night. Plus, holding certain hotel-branded credit cards may ensure you’re already treated like royalty with perks like elite status, spa or dining credits, upgrades and more. Hotel brands such as Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt and IHG all offer wedding planning options and assistance.
Thanks to COVID, destination weddings are actually becoming more popular (even though many people aren’t traveling), as they’re often more intimate celebrations. Make sure to ask your hotel if they offer streaming assistance or virtual options for guests that can’t attend in person. For example, the Four Seasons Houston has a special wedding option that allows the bride and groom to send special “Wish You Were Here” packages to virtual guests. These include mini cupcakes in your wedding cake flavor, a Four Seasons spa product and other custom wedding favors.
On the other side of the world, the Peninsula Hong Kong proclaims they work with experts to host your virtual Zoom wedding celebration, which ships guests wedding favors like Champagne to celebrate along with the bride and groom. While you may not be heading quite as far as Hong Kong, it’s worth asking your hotel what type of packages they can create for you if many of your guests will be attending virtually.
Remember that even if you don’t have a cobranded hotel card or stay at a points hotel, you can at least pay with a card that offers additional points for travel purchases, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which offers 3x on travel (hotels included).
When it comes to hotels, holding a cobranded credit card can offer a myriad of perks. A TPG favorite is the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, thanks to its Hilton Diamond status for as long as you hold the card and the 150,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Additionally, you’ll earn an up to $250 in Hilton resort credits every calendar year and an up to $100 on-property credit for Conrad and Waldorf Astoria properties, among other benefits. These things can take a honeymoon to the next level for sure. Plus, Diamond status awards members perks like room upgrades, free breakfast, bonus amenities, lounge access and beyond.
In fact, any card that offers elite status is bound to make your honeymoon stay at a branded points property just a little more special. When I stayed at the Hilton Milan during my honeymoon, I only held Gold status, but between elite status and the staff knowing it was my honeymoon, I was treated to top-notch amenities and upgrades. It may be worth taking stock of your hotel cards and points stash when considering your destination. Holding Hyatt Globalist status, for example, won’t get you far if your destination isn’t home to any Hyatt properties!
Another option to make your honeymoon extra-fancy is booking through The Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program. This option is accessible to cardmembers with a Platinum- or Centurion-branded card, including The Platinum Card from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. If you pay with an Amex card and book directly through the program, you’ll obtain the following perks:
- Room upgrade upon arrival, when available
- Daily breakfast for two people
- Guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout
- Noon check-in, when available
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- $100 experience credit, which varies by property
Although rates can often be slightly elevated booking through Amex, the perks clearly outweigh a few additional dollars in most cases.
Your destination should obviously also be somewhere where U.S. citizens are currently allowed to enter. Presently, you should ditch the idea of nuptials in a castle in France or overlooking the ocean in Bali. Unless you hold residency, you won’t be allowed to enter these spots. Consider more accessible destinations like Florida, Hawaii or the Bahamas. Obviously, check and recheck travel, quarantine and testing requirements before and during the trip, as things can change rapidly.
Considering resort bubbles is another valid option, allowing you to combine a destination wedding and your honeymoon at a luxury resort in a spot such as Hawaii or the Bahamas. After all, once you’ve completed all the testing and/or quarantine requirements, you may as well stay awhile!
If you don’t have points and miles to dig into, remember that the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card could be just the right card for you. This is especially apt if you plan to get married or take a honeymoon in a non-points hotel, stay in a home rental or pay for things you typically can’t use points and miles for, like a cruise, seaplane, boat rental, etc. While the card does offer various redemption options, including the ability to redeem miles for travel and transfer to airline and hotel partners, you can also use it to “wipe” costs (such as the ones mentioned above) off your statement.
If you’re really getting off the beaten path or don’t have any hotel points, the Citi Prestige Card is a good one to use if you plan to stay at least four nights so you can utilize the fourth night free benefit.
Related reading: The best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night
You should also consider trying to get that Southwest Companion Pass before your honeymoon rolls around. Even if you don’t make it in time for the honeymoon, your new life as a couple will be pretty sweet if your significant other can fly for free along with you.
Make sure to check on which of your credit cards offer Priority Pass airport lounge membership and what their guest policies are. This is especially important if you’re flying economy because at least you can enjoy lounge access preflight and during layovers. Also, make sure to confirm that the Priority Pass lounges are open before flying (or getting the card, depending on how important this perk is to you) because many are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Airlines including Delta and American allow others to gift miles to you and your soon-to-be-spouse, so if this is something you want, make sure to let your guests know by adding these links to your registry.
Requesting airline gift cards is another idea, especially if you’re loyal to a particular airline like American, Delta, Southwest or Alaska. Many hotel chains also offer gift cards, like Marriott, Hyatt and even rental site Airbnb. Requests for these types of travel-themed gifts, as well as cash for travel experiences, can be easily set up through registries such as Honeyfund or Honeymoon Wishes.
Start with building a budget on a website such as The Knot or WeddingWire. You can also make a simple spreadsheet of your costs for both the wedding and the honeymoon early on and then dig through your credit card stash to see what you have and what you need.
If you don’t already have cards that can earn you bonus points or benefits on your large expenses, apply and start spending so you can take advantage of points or free nights accrued from welcome bonuses on airline, hotel and travel cards.
Make sure to pay your cards off, especially for larger purchases like venues, catering and engagement rings. If you can’t do it right away, use a card that has 0% intro APR and pay off your purchases before this introductory period is over. Any debt you end up with will negate your rewards, so it’s best to avoid that if at all possible.
Related reading: 10 commandments for travel rewards credit cards
Check your credit card limits to see if they are high enough for large purchases. Even if they are, calling your bank to let them know you’ll be making a large purchase will ensure your transaction or card won’t be blocked. This is especially important if you plan on forking over a lot for a ring, which could exceed your limit if you’re going full-out bling.
Weddings can be challenging even in the best of times (and let’s be honest — we aren’t necessarily in those right now). These tips can help with planning to allow you to have the best event possible, even if your wedding or honeymoon has been massively upended due to COVID-19.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.
Featured photo by Getty Images.
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