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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, Citi ThankYou Preferred Card, Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited
Costs can add up very quickly when you’re planning a wedding. But using the right credit cards for wedding and honeymoon purchases can go a long way to help you work toward future travel during this expensive time. Here’s a list of tips for maximizing your points, miles and credit cards for your wedding and honeymoon.
If you’re buying an engagement ring, you may want to not only maximize credit rewards but also interest payments, especially if the ring is a pricey investment.
Two options, both of which come without annual fees, are the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express and the Chase Freedom Unlimited. If you’re applying for either card for the first time, you can get a 0% introductory interest rate on all purchases for the first 15 months on the Amex (then a variable APR of 14.99%-25.99% applies) and on the Chase card (then a variable APR of 17.24% – 25.99% applies). But it’s extremely important that you pay the entire amount off within the first 15 months — after that, any balance remaining on either card skyrockets as interest rates kick in.
These cards will also yield some rewards. The Amex EveryDay will earn you 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent, plus you’ll get a welcome bonus of 10,000 points for making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first three months. With the Freedom Unlimited, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, or 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent if you also have a Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
You’re going to want to use a card that offers bonus points on dining for your caterer — or for your 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 in advance to confirm whether or not you’ll receive bonus points.
Your best option is probably the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which earns 3 points per dollar on dining purchases, as we value those points at 2.1 cents apiece and they have a lot of flexibility for transferring to partners. Some other strong choices are below.
The Best Cards for Dining Purchases
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||3x||$450|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||2x||$95 (waived first year)|
|Citi Premier Card||2x||$95 (waived first year)|
|Citi ThankYou Preferred Card||2x||$0|
|Uber Visa (cash back)||4x||$0|
|Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express (US restaurants only)||2x||$195 (waived first year)|
|Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card (cash back)||4x||$95 (waived first year)|
Using the Citi Prestige card is ideal for entertainment purchases, as you can earn 2 points per dollar spent on things like a band or even for paying the venue if you happen to get married at a gallery, aquarium or museum. The full list of spots where you’re eligible to earn the 2x points on the card is below:
- Live entertainment
- Live theatrical productions
- Live sporting events
- Movie theaters
- Amusement parks (including zoos, aquariums, circuses and carnivals)
- Tourist attractions (including museums and art galleries)
- Record stores
- Video rental stores
- On-demand internet streaming media
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 in order to earn the most bonus points possible via a shopping portal.
Although online flower retailers may charge more than a local florist, sometimes vendors have offers where you can earn up to 35 miles per dollar with airline partners like AA, Delta 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 special wedding services section to browse through.
The Destination Wedding
If you’re considering a destination wedding, a Starwood property could be a good spot to say “I do.” Starwood allows you to earn SPG points for hosting your wedding at one of its hotels located in North or Latin America, Mexico and Canada. The points are awarded once you sign the contract, so you can use them for your honeymoon. Couples can earn 1 point per dollar spent on room rental, food and beverage costs — up to 100,000 SPG points. You may also receive perks like a complimentary guest room on your wedding night and a sparkling toast during the reception.
When paying for your honeymoon, using credit cards that offer travel rewards such as bonus points on airfare, hotels or lounge access is clearly the best way to go. If you’re having trouble narrowing down your destination, start by taking stock of the points and miles you already have and looking into award availability to see where they can get you.
If you don’t have a large stash of hotel points, it’s okay — you can dig around for lower-category properties in destinations that are often more economical. For example, just 12,000 Starpoints could get you four nights at the Le Meridien N’Fis in Marrakech, Morocco (3,000 Starpoints per night), or three nights at the Sheraton Miraflores in Lima, Peru (4,000 points per night). Some hotel brands also allow you to use a cash and points combination, too.
Once you have your destination set, check out what hotel brands are in the area where you’d like to have your honeymoon. Specifically getting co-branded cards to match hotels in your destination is a solid strategy. I’m usually an SPG loyalist, but when I chose Sri Lanka as a honeymoon destination, I looked into the getting a Hilton co-branded card as the country doesn’t have any Starwood properties (yet) in order to spend a few nights at the Hilton Colombo to un-jet lag before heaidng around the country to explore.
If you’re really getting off the beaten path or don’t have any hotel points, using the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to book and pay through Hotels.com/venture will get you 10x miles on hotel stays — equal to a 10% return, plus through the Hotels.com Rewards program you get one free night for every 10 nights you book through the site. And the Citi Prestige card is a good one to use if you plan to stay at least four nights so you can utilize the 4th Night Free benefit.
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 pre-flight and during layovers.
Although United’s wedding registry site was undergoing maintenance as of publish time, the airline allows you to register for frequent flyer miles, letting others give you the gift of travel. Airlines like Delta and American also allow others to gift miles, 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, Ritz-Carlton or Hyatt — as do Airbnb and Amtrak! Requests for these types of travel-themed gifts, as well as cash for travel experiences, can be easily set up through registry like Honeyfund or Honeymoon Wishes.
Other Tips & Tricks
- Build a budget on a website like Wedding Wire or by making a simple spreadsheet of your costs for both the wedding and the honeymoon early on. Then, dig through your credit card stash to see what you have and what you need.
- Start applying. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Featured photo by Sweet Icecream Photography via Unsplash.
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