I opened my first rewards card while planning my wedding, and the points I earned got us 12 free hotel nights in Scotland for the honeymoon.
- I was excited to plan a trip to Scotland for my honeymoon, but with significant wedding expenses, I wanted to avoid paying for the whole trip with cash.
- By signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and putting our wedding-related charges on the card, I was able to earn thousands of points.
- We used these points to book 12 free hotel nights in Scotland, but you can apply this same strategy no matter where you're traveling.
- Planning a wedding can be a great opportunity to open a rewards credit card and earn a sign-up bonus, because you'll likely incur significant expenses that you can use to meet the minimum spending requirement.
I'd been dreaming of a trip to Scotland for years. After Mr. Right got down on one knee, he suggested making that dream come true as our honeymoon.
The idea of an adventure in the moody Highlands sounded dreamy, but we had no desire to pay full price for a Scottish vacation in June. We wanted to start our life together on the right foot financially, which left no room in our budget for a high-cost honeymoon.
Luckily for us, credit card rewards were able to help us slash the total cost of our trip.
Our Sapphire Preferred strategy
Once we decided that Scotland was our destination, I had months to strategize. Not only did I scope out the sights, but I also spent time looking into how we could pay for the trip with rewards. Credit card travel points were the obvious choice.
Based on my tight budget, I had never signed up for a travel rewards card in my life. Without the resources to hit the minimum spending requirements for the bonus of most cards, it just did not seem worth it to me. However, we were planning a wedding - and the associated costs can add up quickly!
I took advantage of that opportunity to land a sign-up bonus. After weighing my options, I went with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. At the time, I was able to score 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for $4,000 of spending in the first three months. Plus, our wedding spending was helping to stack up more points.
With both the sign-up bonus and other spending, we ended up with about 70,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Cashing in our points
Although you may be able to get more value out of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to certain travel partners like Singapore Airlines or Virgin Atlantic, we did not go that route. Instead, we redeemed these points for hotel stays directly on the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
I sought out deals on the portal to stretch our points as far as possible. If you make the choice to book these deals far in advance, you could stand to save big time, as prices tend to increase the closer to the travel date you book.
In total, we spent 14 glamorous nights in Scotland. 12 of those nights were completely free thanks to Chase points. We chose to pay for two of those nights because we wanted to stay at the Kingshouse Hotel along the West Highland Way. The view was definitely worth that splurge!
The accommodations we chose through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal were lovely. In fact, some were extremely luxurious hotels. It was nice to spend our honeymoon in nice hotels instead of our typical cheap accommodations. Plus, we slept better knowing that the room was free!
Other trip costs
Of course, we still had to cover our airfare and a rental car. However, the combined cost of airfare and a car for 11 days only set us back around $2,000.
Our rental turned out to be a sporty hybrid with almost 60 miles per gallon, so we spent very little on fuel. As far as food, we made sure to choose lodgings that offered free breakfast. With a hearty Scottish breakfast, we usually just snacked for lunch and ate a light dinner. We were pleasantly surprised at the low cost of food around the country.
All in all, the trip was relatively affordable as far as European vacations go. Without the Chase Sapphire Preferred sign-up bonus, the hotels could have easily added another $1,000 to $1,500 onto the total price tag. The other option would have been to stay in cheaper accommodations, but we didn't want to sacrifice quality. After all, it was our honeymoon!
How to pay for your honeymoon with points
Not everyone wants to go to Scotland. However, you can fund your honeymoon to anywhere in the world with the right travel rewards credit card.
For most destinations, a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great option. Since I signed up, the sign-up bonus has increased from 50,000 points to 60,000 points. You'll still need to spend $4,000 in your first three months in order to snag this deal.
Read more: The best rewards credit cards available now
You can fund a lot of travel with that 60,000-point bonus. You have lots of flexibility with the Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Although we chose to use the points for hotels, you could use them on airfare, car rentals, or travel experiences - either through the Chase portal or by transferring to partner airline and hotel programs.
If you're planning an unavoidably expensive wedding, then take advantage of that opportunity. Sign up for a travel rewards card and watch the points add up. You'll be able to better enjoy your honeymoon knowing that you put your expenses to work for you and saved money as a result.
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