One of the great things about throwing a wedding is that when it’s finally over you get to go on vacation.
Unfortunately, honeymoons are often very expensive getaways because the bride and groom expect the best of the best, not just a run-of-the-mill retreat.
After all, you just got married, so staying at a Holiday Inn Express probably won’t get the job done.
Paying for the Honeymoon the Old Way
Back in the day, it was probably pretty common to use gift funds to pay for the honeymoon, or at least to offset the costs.
So all those checks from grandpa, grandma, your relatives, friends, etc. who opted to give cash or checks instead of a household item (an ice cream maker) could be put toward the vacation.
Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, and it does limit your out-of-pocket expenses, but it still means you’re spending a lot of money, whether originally yours or not.
Wouldn’t it be better to save that cash for something more important, like a down payment on a home or savings for your future family?
Nowadays, there are also services like Honeyfund that allow your wedding guests to chip in for your trip.
So you tell them where you’re going and what you might do, such as dinner in Paris, and if they pledge a certain amount, they can effectively “buy it” for you.
But some have argued that it’s kind of lame, and there can be fees involved, which does take away from the experience.
And again, it’s just money to pay for travel at face value. You can do better!
Double the Miles, Double Your Fun
I’ll spare you the suspense. The better way to pay for your honeymoon is by using credit card points and miles.
Why? Because the wedding itself is so darn expensive, meaning you can hit all types of minimum spending requirements and earn all sorts of bonus points and miles along the way.
On top of that, a wedding involves two people (generally), so you can earn miles twice as fast.
For example, if you need to make a down payment for the wedding venue or the caterer, or simply purchase a wedding gown, throw it on the plastic instead of paying cash.
There’s a great chance you can meet some spending requirements in just one go.
But before you do, apply for some credit cards with awesome sign-up bonuses. And better yet, focus on ones that allow you to transfer points and miles to frequent flyer programs.
Yes, that’s a lot of money in normal circumstances, but probably a single purchase when a pricey wedding is being organized.
You can also add an authorized user (your eventual spouse) and earn 5,000 more bonus points.
If you or hubby-to-be has a business, grab a Chase Ink Plus Business Card and earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after $5,000 in spending.
Gather enough of these points and you might well be looking at a free flight to Europe in business class, which is surely worthy enough for your honeymoon.
The cool thing about Ultimate Rewards is that they can be transferred to a bunch of airline partners, including United.
Speaking of, there’s also the United MileagePlus Explorer that offers 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
You can convert the Ultimate Rewards points into United miles and combine them to travel just about anywhere.
Also Stay for Free on Your Honeymoon
You’ll also need a place to stay once you get there. Fear not, there’s a credit card for that too.
I’m sure you’ll have other wedding expenses to charge up, so consider throwing them on the Hyatt Credit Card from Chase.
It offers two free nights worldwide once you spend just $1,000 during the first three months.
If you both apply separately, that’s four nights of luxury free of charge at Hyatt hotels all over the planet.
Need even more free travel? Apply for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus and you can erase about $500 in travel purchases if you spend $3,000 during the first three months as a cardmember.
You get 40,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000, and you get 10% of your miles back when you redeem for travel.
Again, if both individuals apply, that’s another $1,000 or so in travel value for free.
The best part about all of these credit cards is that the annual fee is waived the first year, so you have the chance to get all that travel for free.
And these credit cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees, which is extremely helpful (to your wallet) when traveling abroad.
The Offers Are Endless
It is recommended that you plan well in advance to ensure you can get the award travel you want without any restrictions.
It’s also good to stagger credit card applications somewhat to make sure you can get approved for all the cards you need to get your honeymoon paid for.
You may want to start your honeymoon planning a good year or so beforehand to make sure you can complete the required spending and book your travel.
Just cancel your credit card(s) before the first year is up to avoid any annual fees (if applicable) and you’re golden. But make sure the points are actually redeemed before you do that though…this is how credit card churning works.
Oh, and as far as that wedding cash goes, it can be your spending money once you get to wherever it is you’re going.
Steps to a Free Honeymoon
- Research your trip location(s), hotels, dates, etc.
- Apply for travel-related credit cards with big opening bonuses
- Meet spending requirements via large wedding purchases
- Use accrued points/miles to book award travel and hotels for free
- Cancel cards you no longer need to avoid annual fees after first year ends
- Brag to friends and family about said free honeymoon
(photo: Kim Marius Flakstad)