Maximizing points and miles when planning your wedding and honeymoon
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Weddings and honeymoons aren’t fully back to normal yet, but one thing still holds true: Costs can add up quickly.
Luckily, 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. So even if you aren’t traveling quite as far as planned or hosting as large of an event because of the pandemic, 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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The first major expense when tying the knot comes long before the wedding itself. 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 annual percentage rate offer on purchases.
One such card is the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which doesn’t have an annual fee and offers new cardholders a 0% introductory APR for 15 months (then a variable APR of 15.24% – 23.99% applies) in addition to its sign-up bonus. You’ll also earn 1.5 points per dollar spent (that adds up quickly!) which can be used as fully transferable Ultimate Rewards points if you also hold a premium Ultimate Rewards-earning card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
If you can pay the ring off quickly and don’t need financing, charging your jewelry purchase on the Chase Sapphire Reserve could come in handy. This is because, in many cases, jewelry is included in their damage and theft insurance up to $10,000 (under specific circumstances). Similarly, The Platinum Card® from American Express ($695 annual fee; see rates and fees) will cover up to $10,000 per occurrence and up to $50,000 per calendar year if the ring gets stolen, lost or damaged (up to 90 days from the covered purchase date)*. This purchase protection is an embedded benefit of your card membership and doesn’t require enrollment. Just note that there are time limits for both of these coverages.
*Eligibility and Benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.
If you’d rather maximize points, you might consider opening a Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. This card earns 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases and includes a welcome bonus of 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
In any case, your purchase will count toward the minimum spending requirements needed to enjoy the card’s initial bonus in addition to earning miles.
Reading the fine print before getting the card — and 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 you if your proposal is declined, so you’ll want to confirm return policies directly with the merchant.
Chances are, the reception costs for your wedding will make up the bulk of your wedding budget.
You’ll want to use a high-earning card for these charges if possible — though the best card will vary based on how the purchases are coded. Caterers and venues are often classified as restaurants, but may also come through as entertainment or generic small businesses. Receptions hosted at a hotel may code under travel, instead. If possible, try to make a small purchase or deposit in advance to confirm whether or not you’ll receive bonus points.
That said, the majority of caterers and venues are classified as restaurants, which is in your favor since several cards offer bonus points on dining as a purchase category. You may already have a card with strong rewards in your wallet, but if not, this is the time to get one.
The best cards for dining purchases can also be handy for the rehearsal dinner or any post-wedding events, such as a family brunch.
|Card||Bonus (return based on TPG’s valuations)||Annual fee|
|American Express® Gold Card||4 points per dollar (8%) at restaurants||$250 (see rates and fees)|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||3 points per dollar (6%)||$550|
|Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card||7 points per dollar (4.2%), only at U.S. restaurants||$450 (see rates and fees)|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||3 points per dollar (6%)||$95|
|Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card (cash back)||4%||$95|
The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex and Capital One Savor Cash Rewards cards 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 might not be held in one of these nontraditional venues, but you could still maximize your spending on bachelor/bachelorette celebrations at a dance club, for example.
It’s worth checking an aggregator site like Cashback Monitor or Evreward when it comes to purchases like flowers, dresses and suits, favors, photo albums, wedding and 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 1 and 30 miles per dollar with airline partners like American, Delta, United and others when purchased through their shopping portals. The added points could offset the higher cost and help fund your honeymoon.
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 and accessories and beyond.
The Amex Platinum card also comes with an up-to-$50 Saks credit twice per calendar year (enrollment required), useful toward items like makeup, suits, shoes or other wedding accessories. And don’t forget to check your Amex Offers for discounts and bonus points at popular retailers.
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 in addition to the points you earn from paying with your credit card.
You’ll usually earn points for money spent on room rental, food and beverage costs … as long as you provide your member number before signing a contract. You may even receive perks like a complimentary guest room on your wedding night.
While points are great, the benefits can be even better. Holding certain hotel-branded credit cards may ensure you’re already treated like royalty with perks like elite status and spa or dining credits. Hotel brands such as Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt and IHG offer wedding planning options and assistance to make logistics a breeze.
Thanks to COVID-19, destination weddings are growing in popularity since they’re often 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.
Remember that even if you don’t have a cobranded hotel card or stay at a points hotel, you can pay with a card that offers additional points for travel purchases. The Capital One Venture X offers a whopping 10 miles per dollar spent on hotels booked through their travel portal in addition to offering an up to $300 annual travel statement credit for bookings through Capital One Travel.
When it comes to hotels, holding a cobranded credit card can offer myriad 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. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
These things can take a honeymoon to the next level. Plus, Diamond status provides members perks like room upgrades, free breakfast, bonus amenities, lounge access and beyond. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
In fact, any card that offers elite status is bound to make your honeymoon stay at a branded points property a little more special. 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 American Express 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. Also, remember that the Amex Platinum Card now offers an annual up to $200 statement credit at prepaid Hotel Collection and Fine Hotels + Resorts hotels booked through Amex Travel.
Your destination should obviously be somewhere where U.S. citizens are currently allowed to enter. Most of Europe and the Caribbean are open for tourism (including weddings and honeymoons), though local restrictions vary by country and can change on a dime. Destinations like Florida and Hawaii may offer a simpler solution.
If you don’t have points and miles to dig into, remember that the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Venture X 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 or pay for things you typically can’t use points and miles for, like a cruise, seaplane, boat rental, etc.
These cards offers various redemption options, including the ability to redeem miles for travel and transfer to airline and hotel partners, but you can also use miles to cover travel expenses at a fixed value of 1 cent per mile. For example, you can use 50,000 Capital One miles to offset a $500 hotel stay.
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 (aside from taxes and fees) along with you.
Make sure to check on which of your credit cards offer Priority Pass airport lounge membership to enjoy lounge access before your flight and during layovers. 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 still closed due to the 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.
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% introductory 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. This is especially important if you plan on forking over a lot for a ring, which could exceed your limit.
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 thanks to COVID-19.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.
Featured photo by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images.
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