I know, sounds like click bait right? Well as we all know, nothing in life is “free” but I can say this “hack” I am going to share with you can definitely earn you some free travel with money you already plan to spend on your wedding!
These tips involve the use of credit card points to earn free trips which you can use for your honeymoon! This info is going to be super detailed and juicy so pay attention!
So let’s start with the basics. I am not a financial advisor and this advice is just for educational purposes so take this information and chat with a professional in the accounting field before making any decisions. These tips and tricks I am going to share are related to credit cards and points which can affect your credit score when applying for cards. Keep that in mind. This can affect your credit score so if you plan to buy a house I do not recommend messing around with credit cards until after you buy your home.
Don’t want to read the whole article? Well I made an entire video explaining this same thing!
How it works
So basically it’s not “free” in a sense of it’s given to you as some sort of raffle. You still need to earn points by spending money. The way it works is most credit card companies offer an “Sign up incentive” that allows you to earn XX amount of points by spending XX amount of money within the first XX amount of months. Between the two of you (you and your partner), you could each get between 1 and 3 credit cards per person in the time it takes to plan a wedding and earn a TON of points. The other benefit of these cards is that they give you points just for spending money on a daily basis, so even after the sign up incentive, you’ll still be earning points.
You will be earning points with each credit card and once you accumulate all of your points, you can combine them into one account or transfer them to partners and book your free travel.
The Numbers Behind It
Let’s talk math (don’t worry! I’ll do it for you!).
The average cost of a wedding is around $30,000 but can range from $10,000 to $60,000+.
The average sign up bonus for most credit cards ranges from 60,000 points to 125,000 points. Using around 4 credit cards throughout your booking process and spending roughly $30,000 (or less or more) on your wedding you could earn close to 400,000 or more points.
400,000 points is well over enough to book free flights and hotels for roughly 7 or so days to places like Europe, Caribbean, Hawaii, and most places in the U.S. You could even book travel to Southeast Asia with these points, it just depends on when and what deals you find. So in a sense you could book travel to anywhere in the world with 400,000+ points. The amount of days you can stay will just vary.
Let’s start with the overall goal here: We want to optimize the amount of credit cards we get in order to obtain the most optimal amount of points, but we also want to make sure we’re not overdoing it on how many credit cards we get (this is not great for your credit score if you get too many in a little amount of time).
How To Use The Cards To Get A Free Honeymoon
The key is to transfer points
Each card has it’s own benefits, some give you a lot of points but also have a high yearly fee. Some have a lower point value but are easier to maintain. In this section we will talk about who should get what card and when they should get it, as well as some perks, bonuses, points, and more. This is the “Juicy” section!
We will go over the 4 cards I think you should get throughout the wedding planning to optimize the perks, points, and spending. Keep in mind that you do not need to get all 4 or get these exact cards but these are my favorite for many reasons. Also, you can always double up on these cards – meaning you and your partner could each get the same card since your financials are separate still! There are also some cards that have two options: one lower yearly fee and one higher yearly fee, you could each get one of the two different types of cards too. But I will still recommend getting one of each of these cards below!
Step 1: Get A Budget Sheet
You are going to want to make a budget sheet as well as some sort of timeline to show when you will be spending what on your budget. You can also use a free wedding planning checklist that we have created to help you with your timeline for spending.
This budget sheet will help you know how much you will be spending and when you will be spending it. This will be beneficial to know when you should apply for each card to optimize the amount of time between the cards.
Step 2: Get Card Number 1 (Person 1)
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great starter travel credit card that earns you a decent amount of points, has a low yearly fee, and has some pretty good perks for it’s price point.
Yearly Fee: $95
Entry Bonus: Spend $4,000 in the first 3 months and earn 60,000 points.
When To Get: Roughly 12 months before the wedding
What To Buy With It: The needed $4,000 spending minimum could cover your photographer and/or videographer, flowers, etc. You would want to use this card to pay for the retains for some of your vendors that you book around the time of getting this card. Most retainers for these vendors will average around $1,000 – $2,500. You could also use this card to purchase smaller or non-vendor items around this same time. Just remember you need to spend the $4,000 in 3 months to earn those bonus points.
More About The Card: This is a great card to keep even after your wedding but there are some nicer cards in this list. Check out the perks of this card on their website.
This card has a minimum spending bonus of $4,000 in the first 3 months and you get 60,000 points! That is around $600 worth of points when you transfer them to partners.
Once you hit your minimum spending, pay off the card and leave it be! You can enjoy the perks of the card or downgrade/cancel the card before the next years fee.
Use my Referral Link to sign up for the card!: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Step 3: Get Card Number 2 (Person 2)
American Express Gold
The Amex Gold is a great card with it’s 4X points on Groceries, Dine in, and Take Out as well as it’s other perks and pretty low yearly fee.
Yearly Fee: $250
Entry Bonus: Spend $4,000 in the first 6 months and get 60,000 points (sometimes 90,000 points).
When To Get: This is a good card to get around 12 months before your wedding as well. As long as person 2 gets it and not the same person as the first card.
What To Buy With It: Most of your main vendors will cost around $4,000 or more. This could be a good card to put a deposit down on your venue which may cover the $4,000 or more since your venue is something you you will be booking around 12 months before your wedding. If needed you could also purchase your dress and suit with this card to hit that minimum spending requirement. Once you hit the requirement, this is when you can switch to the second card that your fiancé got, or move on the step 3 where we will be getting our second card.
More About The Card: They give you 6 months to spend $4,000 instead of only 3 like most of the other cards. This way you do not have to feel rushed to book anything or buy anything for your wedding. You are able to use this card for the first 6 months of planning which is plenty of time to spend that $4,000 limit! If you find the right referral link you can earn up to 90,000 points with this card for it’s entry bonus!
Once you have spent your minimum spending requirement you will have between 60,000 and 90,000 points depending on which card and bonus you acquired. Don’t forget to check out your cards perks as they do have some pretty cool bonuses and monthly credits that you can utilize while planning such as Uber eats credits!
One of the huge benefits of this card is that you get 4x points on groceries and restaurants worldwide. So you could use this as your everyday spender for groceries and eating out (includes fast food and delivery services) and earn even more points! Since there is a $250 yearly fee, you do get a few things extra like $120 in Uber credits per year and $120 dining credits per year which essentially pays back its fee. This is a great card to use for your catering services since there is a chance it will count as a meal and earn 4x points.
Amex does not usually have any bonuses like chase where you get 25% more for your points but they do generally have a lot more bonuses for transfer partners. Recently they had over 10 bonuses around 20% or more for transferring to partners. This is how I was able to get flights to Europe for just 14,000 points round trip (equivalent to $140 cash). Just like chase, you do not want to use these points within the travel portal as you get more bang for your points when transferring them.
Use my referral link to get between 60,000 and 90,000 points: American Express Gold Card
Step 4: Get Card Number 3 (Person 1)
Capitol One Venture/Venture X
The Venture and Venture X are great cards with two different yearly fees and perks to come with them. They biggest feature they have is their 2X points on ANY purchase which can be super beneficial.
Yearly Fee: Venture – $95 | Venture X – $395
Entry Bonus: (For both) Spend $4,000 in the first 3 months and get 75,000 points.
When To Get: This is a great card to get roughly 6 months after you get card number 1. This way you optimize your credit score not being hit as hard and you have plenty of time to spend the entry bonus amount.
What To Buy With It: At this point you will most likely have most of your vendors booked so you can use this card to book remaining vendors or things like your hotels/accommodations, details, gifts, etc. Or you can use this card to pay off the remaining balance from your vendors. This should easily cover the $4,000 minimum you need to spend for this card!
More About The Card: These cards are great for their 2x points on any purchase and are essential if you plan to continue spending after you earn all of the entry bonuses on other cards. Most other cards only give you 1x points on other purchases so this is a huge deal. You do get a little more with the venture x but it may not be necessary for you. You get things like a $300 yearly travel credit, 10,000 bonus points every year that you keep the card ($100 value), lounge access at airports (WORTH IT!), and global entry/TSA precheck which is ESSENTIAL if you travel a lot. This would be one one the last cards I get since after I get the entry bonuses on all my other cards, I would move onto this one and get the 2X points.
Sign up link: Capitol One Venture X
Step 5: Get Card Number 4 (Person 2)
American Express Platinum
Yearly Fee: $695
Entry Bonus: Spend $6,000 in the first 6 months and get 100,000 points (up to 125,000 with a referral link).
When To Get: Person 2 should get this card around the same time as Person 1 gets card number 3. Roughly 6 months after they get their first card. Keep in mind you have 6 months to spend the minimum amount so you could get this card 5ish months before your wedding so that you can get your points and book your honeymoon earlier.
What To Buy With It: This card will most likely be used to pay off remaining balances for your vendors, venues, last minute items, etc. This should be more than enough to cover the minimum for the cards entry bonus.
More About The Card: The last card you will want to get is the Amex Platinum card. There are a ton of reason I put this one last. This card has a $4,000 spend in the first 6 months and get between 100,000 and 125,000 points.
I would recommend this card last regardless because of its perks. You get things like TSA precheck/global entry (along with one other card so you can both get precheck/global entry), Hulu/Disney+/Espn bundle, hotel credits, airline credits, uber credits, LOUNGE ACCESS and much much more. Some of these perks could be useful before your wedding but a lot of them are travel related and if you do not plan to renew this card because of its large yearly fee, you want to optimize the amount of time you have access to the travel perks! To do this, you want to wait as long as possible to get the card. Just note, getting global entry will take a few months where as TSA Precheck only takes a couple of weeks and you can only do one per person per card.
Having access to travel perks is nice if you plan to travel for more than just your honeymoon. Even if not, you still have some awesome perks for your honeymoon trip.
Referral Link (get between 100,000 and 125,000 points): American Express Platinum Link
Hotel and Airline Credit Cards
If you want a little extra credit, you can go for an airline or hotel credit card. These are generally not as good because you cannot transfer your points to other places and have to use them for whichever brand you got the card through. So if you get a Delta Amex Credit card, you have to use the points you earn for that through Delta.
The benefit to these is that some of them have nice perks. Some airline cards give you free checked bags and priority boarding just for having their card.
Check out their perks and other benefits if you are interested.
Step 6: USE YOUR POINTS
This is the bread and butter so pay attention!
First things first! DO NOT transfer ANY POINTS until you are 100% ready to book your flights/hotels.
How do you effectively use your points to get the optimal travel for free? There are two main keys to this and they are both just as important as one another.
Key 1: You want to base your travel around your points, not which dates are convenience to you.
Now, I do understand that not everyone can go on a vacation on random dates but try to be a little flexible when looking for deals. A lot of times the deals are on random days/times and do not line up with your exact dates needed. (We will get into the actual booking process below).
Key 2: Transfer your points, do not spend them in the portals.
Amex, chase, and capitol one all have different travel partners but do share a few of the same. This way you can actually combine points into one account for something like an airline or hotel.
Let’s talk about how to spend your points. How do we spend the least amount of points and get the most trip out of it?
Alright, so let’s spend your points! There are two main things to spend your points on to get a “free” honeymoon. You have your flights and you have your hotels stay. Generally your points aren’t worth spending on other things. The first thing you will want to find is a general location on where you want to go. The reason I say general is because when spending you points you don’t always want to have a specific location in mind (you will get more out of your points this way) BUT if you already have a place in mind, that is not a problem! You may just end up spending more points.
At this point you will have close to 400,000 points or more. This is quite a lot of points and you have some options and things to think about. Do you want to get the most out of your points, or do you want to travel in luxury? 400,000 points is well over enough to fly business class with a lay down seat to most other international countries. But you will most likely spend 3 to 4x more points on your flights this way. Or you could just do economy flights which are not terrible and have even more points to work with.
Booking Your Flights:
Let’s book your flights. If you have a specific location in mind you can skip to the next step.
First you want to head over to Google flights and go to the explore tab. This is where you will find the best location for both your points and your honeymoon. We are going to enter our closest airport (or our closest major airport if you don’t mind driving a little and want to save even more points). Then my best advice is to pick a date period (i.e. 1 week, 2 weeks, weekend) under the flexible tab in a certain month(s). Also do not pick your destination unless you have already decided where you want to go! This also goes for your specific dates or flexible dates!
Once you have explored this map and figured out the best and cheapest place to travel with with money, we now know which locations may be cheapest to fly to with points! This is just a basic research tool to help narrow things down so you do not have to spend as much time researching places to fly to on airlines websites. This step is not necessary but it does help.
The next step is to go on different airlines websites and make accounts (this is needed to search for flights with points). Then you will simply just look at flights from X location to X location (feel free to get creative with this). You can find fare calendars that will help you see which days are cheapest to fly with points. MAKE SURE you look at multiple airlines unless you need to fly a specific airline. A lot of airlines are partners with each other and it can be cheaper to book a flight through a partner than the original airline. For example, you can often find Delta flights on Air France/KLM or Virgin Atlantic for cheaper than they are on the Delta website. So make sure to take a look at partner sites.
Pro Tip: When looking for flights with points, it’s best to search with a “one way” flight and do not enter the date. This will often net you more dates available to fly as well as a fare calendar to see months at a time instead of individual dates. Once you find your 2 dates to fly you can either book them separately as one way flights or try round trip, sometimes this is cheaper.
GREAT! Now you have your flights booked.
Booking Your Hotels
The way to find hotels is similar but not as complicated. Just make sure you look for hotels that participate with your credit card transfer points and find your favorite hotel (make sure to search with points not money). Once you find your favorite hotel you can transfer your points and purchase!
There is A LOT more to this topic but it would be basically a book if put all the info on this in one blog post. Feel free to put some comments below to for more info or questions.
Essentially this works by you and your partner each getting 2 credit cards a piece. 1 each around 12 months before your wedding and another each about 6 months before your wedding. This way it optimizes the amount of cards you can get without really messing with your credit score.
Partner 1: 12 months before wedding get the Chase Preferred Card
Partner 2: 12ish months before wedding get the American Express Gold Card
Partner 1: 6ish months before your wedding get the Capitol One Venture/VentureX
Partner 2: 6ish months before your wedding get the American Express Platinum Card
Just remember that you do not have to get these exact cards! Since you guys are not married yet you could even double up on one of the cards. For example, if you found a referral link for the Amex gold for 90,000 points you could BOTH get this card since your finances are separate and both earn 90,000 points. Same with the rest of the cards. Or since there are two versions of the Capitol One Card, you could each get one of the cards. The reason I recommend all different cards is due to each one having different perks and yearly fees!
Once you earned all of your points purchasing wedding related things like vendors, gifts, accommodations, etc. you can use your points to transfer them to partners to book your free flights and hotels! You will still most likely need to spend money on your food, activities and such but your hotel and flights are generally the most expensive part of a honeymoon.
Let me know if you have any questions down in the comments. I will be updating this blog as new information comes along to keep you all up to date.