The average honeymoon costs nearly $5,000 - here's how to pay for yours using credit card rewards and sign-up bonuses
- The average honeymoon costs nearly $5,000.
- Couples can reduce (or even eliminate) honeymoon expenses by using rewards credit cards to pay for wedding expenses.
- Sign up for cards that offer at least double or triple the points, plus big sign-up bonuses. Top options include the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
- Use your card's travel-booking portal or transfer points to an airline or hotel loyalty program to make the most out of rewards.
While your wedding day is a joyous occasion, the amount of money many couples spend can be a total budget buzz kill. From paying for the venue and the caterer to the photographer and band, the average wedding can easily set you back $35,000 or more, according to Trip Savvy.
After sweating over months of wedding planning, most couples just want to get to their honeymoon so they can finally relax. And while the honeymoon is a big part of the wedding tradition, the first trip as a married couple can add another $4,500 to your tab - another expense that may interfere with total relaxation.
At least 62% of couples foot the bill for their honeymoon, which means some couples begin their life together in a financial hole.
How to pay for your money with points and miles
One way to avoid going deeper in debt for the honeymoon is to pay for most of it using credit card rewards. The idea is to pay for wedding expenses - like the venue, caterer, and more - using rewards credit cards and then apply your points or miles to pay for your travel and hotel for the honeymoon.
Many credit cards offer rewards, but here's how to pick the ones that can get you the biggest return on your wedding-related spending.
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 can far outweigh the value of any rewards.
When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.
Read more: The best rewards credit cards available now
Snap up sign-up bonuses
Wedding expenses come fast and furiously, so before you start booking anything, identify which credit cards are going to offer the most return for your investment. Since you will easily drop thousands of dollars for this shindig, you may as well get rewarded your big purchases. This is where credit card sign-up bonuses come in handy, because they allow you to quickly kick up your points or miles total.
Cards to consider include Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture. Each card offers at least 50,000 points or miles after you make a big purchase (the Sapphire Preferred offers 60,000 while the other two offer 50,000).
Chase requires you spend $4,000 within the first month three months of opening an account; the Capital One Venture requires you to spend $3,000 in the same time frame. Important to note, you cannot get two sign-up bonuses if you opt to open both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred, according to The Points Guy. You have to choose one or the other.
Sign-up bonus offers are often earned after you spend during a limited amount of time, typically the first three or four months of opening the credit card, so make sure your spending is on track to cash in. Also, sign-up bonus offers may change, so double-check the offer before making a commitment.
Read more: The best credit card sign-up bonuses
Use your rewards cards strategically by opting for plastic that offers double or triple the points or miles. Booking a hotel or restaurant for the reception? You can earn triple the points using your Chase Sapphire Reserve or Wells Fargo Propel.
If you're paying with your Chase Sapphire Preferred, you'll get double the points for making dining- or travel-based purchases. If you are paying for hotel accommodations for family or friends, earn 10x miles using your Capital One Venture when booked and paid through Hotels.com/venture.
Not all wedding purchases are going to be dining and travel, so you may also want a credit card that rewards you outside the travel and dining categories. The Capital One Venture offers double the miles on everyday purchases, and other cards like give you just one point or mile per dollar spent on non-bonus purchases.
Cash in your rewards
After all the planning and charging wedding expenses, you finally get to book the honeymoon. If you're using a Chase rewards card, you should consider booking your travel and hotels through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
Another option with certain cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, is to transfer your points directly to a partner airline or hotel. You may be able to find a better deal on airfare this way.
Generally, though, booking through your bank's travel portal is the easiest way to use your points. However, according to Business Insider reporter David Slotnick, going the transfer-to-frequent-flyer-loyalty-program route is better if you're hoping to travel in luxury:
If you're looking for a first or business class flight - which we did, as a special honeymoon indulgence - you're always better off transferring points to the frequent flyer program instead of booking through the bank portal. That's because the portal's rates are always tied to the cash price, while in most cases, though not all, the award rate is independent of price. So like in the case of the ticket to Japan, the flight would have otherwise cost about $10,000. We paid 80,000 miles through the frequent flyer program, but if we had gone through the portal, it would have been as high as 1,000,000 miles.
Remember, while it's easy to get caught up trying to find the best deal between loyalty programs and the portal, your best or least expensive option may be something that won't take points or miles. In that case, you can always hold (and build) rewards for an anniversary trip.
Important considerations before you open any credit card
While rewards credit cards can help you save a ton on your honeymoon and even some wedding expenses, you'll need to be cognizant of the cards' rates and annual fees. Remember, after the wedding and honeymoon are over, you'll still have this credit card, so while it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of racking up points, keep these guidelines in mind:
Pay attention to annual fees
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $450 annual fee, the $300 travel credit effectively drops it down to $150. Considering you get triple the points for travel and dining, a few evenings out can offset the fee.
Read more: The best credit cards with no annual fee
Pay off your credit card each month
Many rewards credit cards have interest rates that can top 27%, so you should be prepared to pay off the balance each month in full and on time to avoid damaging your credit score and going into debt.
You should also avoid maxing out your credit card because about 30% of your credit score is based on your available credit. The closer you are to maxing out your credit card, the more damage you do to your credit score.
Think about how you'll use the credit card after the wedding
You'll want to make sure whichever card (or cards) you choose to open reflects your everyday spending habits. So if you travel on a regular basis, the Chase Sapphire Reserve makes sense, for example. But if you don't spend a lot of money on travel but more on dining, gas, and ride shares, the Wells Fargo Propel might be a better option as it's geared more toward everyday spending.
Newlywed Caroline Farhat told The Knot when it came to choosing a credit card she opted for one that matched with the couple's lifestyle. "Since we dine out and travel frequently, we both opened a credit card that gave us two points for each dollar spent on restaurants and travel," she told The Knot. "Never unnecessarily spend just to meet a spending requirement. We only ever spent what we had to for the weddings and our normal living expenses."
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