I'm getting married in Kauai - thanks to credit card sign-up bonuses, I'm able to cover my family's flights with points
- My fiancé and I are getting married in Kauai, and we're saving on travel costs by booking flights on points.
- We transferred Ultimate Rewards points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card to Southwest to book our round-trip tickets.
- I also signed up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card and am working toward the Companion Pass. This will let me bring along a family member for almost free.
- See Business Insider's list of the best rewards credit cards »
My fiancé and I have used points and miles to travel as far as South America. When we decided on Kauai for our destination wedding, we took two plane tickets out of our wedding budget. That's because we knew we could book them using our credit card points. Here's how we did it.
Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It's important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.
Finding the best travel reward credit cards for us
The travel rewards credit card you pick should be determined by your future travel goals. For us, we like to get our plane tickets for free, and this is where Chase credit cards truly shine.
Our first Chase travel rewards card was the Chase Sapphire Preferred. We each applied and received the 60,000-point sign-up bonus by meeting the minimum spending requirement of $4,000 in the first three months.
The points came rushing into our accounts, and we got really excited about our first free plane tickets. These points are called Chase Ultimate Rewards, and they can be transferred to different hotel and airline partners, including Hyatt, Marriott, British Airways, and United.
We found you can fly just about anywhere in the world using the Chase Ultimate Rewards points. United, Southwest, British Airways, Air France, and more are all transfer partners who accept Chase Ultimate Reward points.
How we're flying to our destination wedding on points
Once we figured out how to transfer points and booked our first plane tickets for free, we were hooked. This made choosing a destination wedding even easier once we were engaged. For the wedding travel, we applied for new credit cards.
Chase business credit cards are the way to go because they offer large sign-up point bonuses. Thankfully, I own my own freelance design and writing business, so I was able to sign up for the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. This card gave me 80,000 points after meeting the minimum spend requirement of $5,000 in the first three months. Plus the points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel.
All of this does take time to plan out, but we had over a year and a half before the big day.
The first step was to accumulate the points
The minimum spend on this card was $5,000 in the first three months in order to get the points. We always pay off our credit cards in full each month, so we needed to make sure what we put on the card could be paid off.
We switched some bills onto the card and made all of our grocery purchases with it. By the end of three months, we hit the minimum spend and the points came in. We didn't touch them until it was time to buy our tickets to Kauai four months later. By this time, we had accumulated another 20,000 points, both through purchases and by referring a friend to the card.
Next, we found the flights we wanted
We decided to fly Southwest from Phoenix to Kauai, since it had the most direct route. But, we had to wait again. That's because airlines have their own policies about how far in advance you can book tickets for both cash and using rewards.
Southwest varies, but they always announce it ahead of time. We could book the tickets on December 11, 2019 for our wedding in June of 2020.
Finally, we transferred the points and purchased the flight tickets
On December 12, we logged into our Southwest account (you'll need an account if you want to transfer over Chase points), and found the flights. When searching, we always choose the option for "points" instead of dollars. This way we can get a total for the exact number of points we need to transfer from Chase to the airline. Our total for two tickets was 94,254 points.
Next, we opened another browser window and went to the Ultimate Rewards center on the Chase website. There's a clear button to transfer the points and a place to input our Southwest Rapid Rewards number. Within a few minutes the points showed up, and we booked the tickets.
We paid a total of $22.40. This is a security fee not covered by Ultimate Rewards points.
How we plan to fly family out for almost free
Using points for our destination wedding didn't stop with our two free tickets. I applied for another Chase credit card in November. It's the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card. We're moving and I'm getting a new office, so meeting the minimum spending requirement of $5,000 in the first three months (for 70,000 Rapid Reward points) wasn't a challenge. Currently, the card is offering an elevated bonus of up to 100,000 points - 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months, plus another 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 in the first six months.
The most important thing was to making sure I met the minimum spend near the start of a calendar year. That's because the points from this sign-up bonus (and from spending on the card) count toward the Southwest Companion Pass. The Companion Pass allows me to bring along a friend or family member for almost free on any flight. I'd still have to pay taxes and fees, but that's it.
Earning the Companion Pass at the start of the year is essential because it's valid the entire calendar year you earn it in and the following year. We're aiming to have it by February or March.
To get the Companion Pass, you need to earn 125,000 qualifying Rapid Rewards points and then we're in! Of course, transferring any leftover Ultimate Rewards points from my Chase cards to Rapid Rewards might seem like an easy solution - but that won't count toward the Companion Pass.
In the next few weeks, I plan to apply for the personal Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card. It's currently offering a sign-up bonus of 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
Our home renovation projects and upcoming move should set us up to make the minimum spend and be eligible for the Companion Pass in 2020 and 2021 - meaning I can help fly my family to our destination wedding for almost free, too.
Once that's done, I'm just going to be thinking about Mai Tais on the beach and watching the sun hit the ocean edge while we tie the knot.
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