From Heels to Your Honeymoon: How to Travel Hack Using Wedding Expenses

 

Interested in turning your wedding flowers into free flights and taking your new ring to the runway on the luxurious honeymoon of your dreams? It's totally possible with points and miles! 🥂

 

Estimated read time: ~20 minutes

 

According to the popular wedding website, The Knot, the cost of an average wedding last year was $28,000.

Chances are, if you're here, you're planning on paying for your wedding somehow, so why not make those expenses work for you? Putting your wedding expenses like flowers, rings, shoes, etc. on a few good travel credit cards can earn hundreds of thousands of miles and points that you can redeem for flights and hotels on your honeymoon.

Not sure how this is possible? I'm here to walk you through it, step by step 😎.

Why use Travel Credit Cards?

Meet Woody

Woody can't wait to get married and plan a fantastic honeymoon. He uses the same cash-back card he's been using forever to pay for $28,000 in wedding expenses. Woody earns 28,000 points and cashes them out for $280 to pay for his honeymoon.

Woody is sad because $280 is not enough to cover a honeymoon... basically anywhere.

❌ Don't be like Woody.

Meet Buzz

Buzz is on a budget and only has $16,000 to spend on his wedding. But Buzz reads Daily Drop and knows that he can sign up for new credit cards to earn large sign-up bonuses plus points for every dollar spent. Buzz signs up for two new credit cards and refers his fiancé to the same cards. Together, Buzz and his fiancé pay for $16,000 in wedding expenses using their new cards and earn over 300,000 points.

Buzz is happy because he has enough points to plan an amazing honeymoon.

✅ Be like Buzz.

Don't be like Woody. Be like Buzz.

No Matter Your Budget, This Process Can Work for You

Whether you have a $28,000 budget, a $16,000 budget, or even a $100,000 budget, putting your wedding expenses on the right travel cards earns you points you can use for an epic honeymoon.

Plus, many travel cards come with extra perks like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, no foreign transaction fees, hotel and airline status, and airport lounge access.

With these benefits, you get to skip the lines, enjoy free upgrades, and chow down on free food and drinks from the lounge. You'll feel like royalty sipping champagne from your cozy chair in the quiet lounge rather than a mere mortal sitting in a noisy, crowded terminal.

BNA Delta SkyClub Lounge Bar

BNA Delta SkyClub Lounge Bar with unlimited complimentary drinks. Oh, and did I mention the delicious buffet where I had some of the best Salmon of my life during my last visit?

Here's How to be Like Buzz, Step by Step

Step Zero: Make Sure This is for You

Know Your Credit Score

If you live in the 🇺🇸 United States, signing up for travel credit cards is one of the fastest ways you can earn miles and points. If you have a low credit score, you’re going to need to work on bringing it up before you’re ready to become a travel hacker. If your credit score is below 670, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to get approved for many of the best travel credit cards. Go work on improving your score, and come back to this guide when you’ve got it above 700.

Know Your Spending Habits

Before we go any further, It would be very irresponsible for me to encourage you to sign up for new credit cards if you can’t keep your spending in check. Please stop for a minute and take a really honest look deep inside yourself.

Will signing up for a new credit card tempt you to spend money you don’t have? If so, please close this guide now, and don’t tempt yourself any further. Any high-interest debt that you carry for an extended period of time will cost a lot more than any savings that I'm about to start teaching you.

However, if you're like me and have a wedding budget that you can manage and are able to pay off your credit card statements each month, you're an ideal candidate for a free honeymoon! ☀️

If you're new to miles and points and want to learn more of the basics, make sure to check out Travel Hacking 101.

Step One: Sign Up for the Right Travel Credit Card

The first step in leveraging points and miles to pay for your honeymoon is to apply for a credit card.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is a good one to start with. This card has great benefits like no foreign transaction fees, free lounge access with a Priority Pass membership, up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and more.

Current Offer: Earn 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening.

Annual Fee: $395

Other Benefits:

  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel

  • 10,000 miles anniversary bonus

  • 10x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel

  • 5x miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel

  • 2x miles on all other purchases

You can think of the $300 statement credit for travel essentially brings your annual fee down to just $95. A great deal for a card with so many benefits.

Here's what you do. Open the card and use it to pay for wedding expenses. This card earns 2x miles per dollar on everything you buy with the card (aside from certain travel categories which earn even more).

What makes these Capital One Miles so special is that any travel purchase made with an eligible Capital One credit card, no matter which merchant you’ve purchased through, can be covered with your miles at a value of one cent per mile. No need to book through a specific portal, and no need to book directly with an airline. You can simply book through whichever method is the cheapest.

  • That $500 payment to your florist = 1,000 miles toward your honeymoon.

  • $250 for the shoes your mom hates but you just have to have? 500 miles.

  • Hiring a DJ for the reception? That gets you 2x miles as well.

As you can see, the points start to stack up quickly when you're putting wedding expenses on a credit card. But 2x miles can only get you so far. The real magic happens when you use those expenses to meet the minimum spend and earn the sign-up bonus.

Keep using the card to pay for wedding expenses until you hit that $4,000 minimum spend, then stop.

To reiterate, here's a breakdown of everything we did in Step 1:

  • Sign up for the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card using this link

  • Meet the minimum spend by paying for wedding expenses (florist, shoes, DJ, etc.)

  • Once you meet the minimum spend of $4,000, you'll earn the sign-up bonus of 75,000 miles plus you'll have 8,000 miles from the $4,000 spent.

Running total:

  • ($4,000) spent on wedding expenses (that you're spending anyways)

  • ($395) in Annual Fees

  • $830 worth of earned Capital One Miles (83,000 total)

  • Up to $100 Global Entry / TSA Pre-Check credits

  • $300 Capital One Travel portal credits

Step Two: Refer Your Fiancé to the Same Credit Card

Sharing is caring. Especially when you're sharing expenses to earn points to cover your honeymoon.

Refer your fiancé to the same Venture X credit card using the personalized referral link in your account's online portal. You'll get 25,000 miles as a referral bonus when they're approved for the card.

They get all the same great perks and benefits of the card meaning you won't have to leave them behind when you go through the TSA Precheck line and be forced to play on your phone while they have to unload their carry-on and take off half their clothes.

Unless you want to leave them behind because you're still bitter about how they shoved cake in your face even after you asked them not to... Then just signup for Precheck yourself and don’t mention this particular card benefit.

Anyway.

When the card comes in the mail, your fiancé will then use the card to purchase $4,000 in additional wedding expenses. This could be the wedding cake (that they swear they won't smash in your face), reception venue, bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts, etc.

Your fiancé will earn 2x miles for every dollar spent on the card (except for travel expenses which again, earn more, but we're focusing on wedding expenses right now so these probably don't qualify as travel). Once they spend $4,000 they'll get their own 75,000 Capital One mile sign-up bonus, $300 Capital One Travel credit, and up to $100 Global Entry / TSA PreCheck credit. Plus they'll have 8,000 miles from the money spent.

Here's a breakdown of step two:


  • Refer your fiancé to the same card you opened in step one, earning you 25,000 points from the referral bonus.

  • Fiancé spends $4,000 on the card and earns their own 75,000 point sign-up bonus plus 8,000 points from the spend.

Running total:

  • ($8,000) spent on wedding expenses (that you're spending anyways)

  • ($790) in Annual Fees

  • $1,910 worth of earned Capital One Miles (191,000 total)

  • Up to $200 Global Entry / TSA Pre-Check credits

  • $600 Capital One Travel portal credits

What?!?!

Wait, what? 191,000 miles worth $1,910 in free travel expenses? From just ONE credit card each? Yes! This is what's possible with travel credit cards.

Poor Woody only earned 8,000 points from the same amount of expenses on his old credit card, but thanks to Daily Drop, now you know better.

And we're just getting started.

Bonus Tip: You and your fiancé can combine your miles by transferring them all into one account. Just call the number on the back of your card.

 

Step Three: Apply for a Second Travel Credit Card

At this point, you've only spent $8,000 towards your wedding, and if you're an average person with average tastes and budget, that means you have $20,000 in expenses still to go. Time to sign up for another card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

Another awesome travel card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Chase Ultimate Rewards work a little differently than Capital One Miles, but between their excellent booking portal and transfer partners, you can safely assume that each point is worth 1.25 cents

Current Offer: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.

Annual Fee: $95

Other Benefits:

  • Earn 5x points on travel purchases made in the Chase travel portal

  • Earn 3x on dining

  • Earn 2x for all other travel purchases

  • Earn 1x on everything else

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • $50 credit on Ultimate Rewards Hotels annually

  • Discounts on DoorDash with free DashPass subscription for one year (if activated by 12/31/24)

  • Car rental insurance

  • Travel accident insurance

Once 90 days have passed, open the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Spend another $4,000 on wedding expenses. Book the rehearsal dinner at your new mother-in-law's favorite restaurant. Pick out a veil, tiara, or whatever elaborate hairpiece the kids are wearing these days and put it on the card.

As a good rule of thumb, wait 90 days after signing up for your first card to open a second card. You and your fiancé's clocks are separate so you can sign up as spending and your ability to pay off your bills each month allows.

After you meet that minimum spend, you'll get 60,000 bonus points giving you a total of at least 64,000 Chase points. More if you spent some of that on the bonus earning categories like dining.

Bonus Tip: Most caterers won't qualify as dining to earn you the 3x points, but most restaurants do. Booking your rehearsal dinner at a restaurant means that $4,000 spend could earn you as many as 12,000 Ultimate Rewards Points, worth at least $150.

Running total:

  • ($12,000) spent on wedding expenses (that you're spending anyways)

  • ($885) in Annual Fees

  • $1,910 worth of earned Capital One Miles (191,000 total)

  • At least $800 worth of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points (64,000 total)

  • $200 Global Entry / TSA Pre-Check credits

  • $600 Capital One Travel portal credits

By now, I suspect you’re getting the hang of this. Let's move on to step four.

Step Four: Refer your Fiancé to the Same Credit Card

We're just repeating the same process from step two. Refer your fiancé to the new credit card using your referral link from your account. In this scenario, it's the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. When your fiancé gets approved for the card, you'll get 15,000 referral points.

They'll put more wedding expenses on the card, totaling $4,000. Once they reach that minimum spend, they'll get their own 60,000-point sign-up bonus, plus they'll have a minimum of 4,000 points from the money spent.

Running total:

  • ($16,000) spent on wedding expenses (that you're spending anyways)

  • ($980) in Annual Fees

  • $1,910 worth of earned Capital One Miles (191,000 total)

  • At least $1,787.50 worth of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points (143,000)

  • $200 Global Entry / TSA Pre-Check credits

  • $600 Capital One Travel portal credits

Step Five: Keep Researching as Needed

If you planned a budget wedding of around $16,000 you may be ready to stop here. Over 300,000 total points are enough to plan a pretty great trip for your honeymoon.

If you still have wedding expenses to cover, you can get even more points by signing up for another credit card (or two...or three...) Remember to wait at least 90 days between applications.

We keep an updated list of our top travel cards on our website. The list is updated monthly so you always know you're seeing the best cards available in the market.

Step Six: Rinse and Repeat

Once you've signed up for a new credit card, refer your fiancé to the same card to earn the referral bonus. Both of you meet the minimum spend and keep racking up those points.

If only you could swim through those points like Scrooge McDuck….

You can repeat the same process over and over again until you've paid for your entire wedding.

Did I mention how much we would appreciate you using our links? 😅

Just like the referral bonuses, we earn a commission when you’re approved for a new a credit card using our links. By using resources like Our Top Travel Credit Cards every time you add a card to your wallet, we're able to keep putting out content just like this to help you maximize how you use all of your hard earned miles and points!

Step Seven: Start Planning Your Epic Honeymoon

You've bought the dress, the rings, and the shoes (that your mom still hates).

You've tasted the cake and put your favorite flavor on your travel credit card.

You've paid your bills each month, and now you've got a big stash of points, so it's time to start planning your dream honeymoon.

Depending on your budget and how many cards you signed up for, you could have a huge stash of points to work with. To be conservative, I'll use the example from above.

The 191,000 Capital One Miles and 143,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earned in this scenario are worth a minimum of $3,340 toward your travel expenses if you simply cash out. Or, for a truly epic honeymoon, the real value lies in transferring those points to travel partners.

Each credit card issuing bank (Chase, Capital One, etc.) has its own set of travel partners where you can transfer points. Not every card allows you to transfer points to travel partners, but many good travel credit cards do, including the Capital One Venture X and Chase Sapphire Preferred you’ve read so much about up to this point.

With the magic that is travel partners, points can take you a lot farther than cash.

Here are three ideas of what you can do with those points. Of course, I’ve saved my personal favorite for last. ☀️

Sample Itinerary: Hawaii

Dreaming of a romantic honeymoon in Hawaii? This bucket list destination doesn't come cheap. It may seem out of reach to other honeymooners, but not you!

Flights

This is the part where I shamelessly plug our sister company, FareDrop. The reason I can do this so shamelessly is that paying for FareDrops is arguably the best use of Capital One Miles out there. We already find amazingly cheap airfares, and if you're a member and there's a deal to Hawaii to be found, we'll send you a push notification as soon as we see it.

Thanks to how Capital One Miles work, you just book the flights on your Venture X and then pay off your statement with miles. Minimal points spent + roundtrip airfare in hand = you flexing as a travel hacker for the first time. 💪

FareDrop is king for cheap flights when you have flexible dates, but unfortunately we don’t control the deals. Since you're getting married on a specific date, you probably want to leave your wedding and then immediately start your honeymoon.

Another option is to take a chunk of Capital One Miles and transfer them to Flying Blue. Air France/KLM is a partner of the Sky Team alliance, which means you can use their system to book Delta flights to Hawaii from anywhere in the U.S.

I could go on a long rant explaining airline alliances and how they work, but it doesn't really matter. You’ve stuck with me this long, and at this point all you really need to know is if you transfer points to Flying Blue, you can use them to book Delta flights to Hawaii. If you want to know more about how/why this works, check out Travel Hacking 101

35,000 points are enough for a roundtrip economy flight. But why not splurge? It's your honeymoon after all. Business class flights start around 86,000 miles roundtrip. With 191,000 points you could get two roundtrip, business class flights and still have points left over.

Before you transfer any points, decide which flight you want to take. Point transfers are usually a one-way trip. Transfer just enough points to cover that flight, leaving the rest of your points in your Capital One account for maximum flexibility.

 

Hotel

Transfer your Chase points to Hyatt to reserve the beachfront Hyatt Regency Kaanapali. The cash price for this hotel is around $650 per night, but you'll be staying there for free.

The amount of points per night varies depending on the season, but you'll pay around 21,000 points per night.

143,000 points are enough to cover six nights with 17,000 points left over.

There are no resort fees when you book a Hyatt hotel on points making this week-long $4,000 luxury hotel stay completely free!

Using Leftover Points

With Capital One Venture X, you can use points to pay for ANY travel purchase. Use those leftover points to cover things like...

  • A rental car

  • A luau

  • Surfing lessons where the tall, dark, and handsome instructor flirts with your new wife

🤔 ...maybe not surfing lessons, but you get the idea.

Sample Itinerary: Europe

A romantic honeymoon in Europe is 100% possible using points and miles. You'll be sipping Spanish wine, wandering around ancient Roman ruins, or eating crepes under the Eiffel tower in no time! No hot surfing instructors in sight.

Flights

A good way to fly to Europe using points is to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Iberia Plus.

Roundtrip tickets start at just 34,000 points for economy and 68,000 for business class. Paying cash for a business-class flight to Europe could run you something like $4,000 each way. Instead of $16,000 for two roundtrip tickets, you'll use points and pay just the taxes and fees. Depending on which airline you chose and which city you fly into, those will run you more like $10-$250.

Hotel

There are many great options for booking hotels in Europe on points. Here's just one example. Transfer 105,000 Capital One points to Wyndham for a 7-night stay at the Dolce by Wyndham Sitges Barcelona.

This 5-star hotel has ocean views, a spa, and several swimming pools. It's the perfect place to relax and soak up the Mediterranean sun as you try to recover from the stress of dealing with that weird uncle at your wedding.

Using Leftover Points

Use your leftover Capital One points to erase purchases or get cash back from your Chase card to cover things like...

  • Wine tasting

  • Room Service

  • A romantic couples massage to make up for smashing the cake in her face even after you swore you wouldn't.

The Ultimate Honeymoon Itinerary: Bali

Many major airlines have co-branded credit cards with meaningful sign-up bonuses.  You can check out all of our Top Airline Cards being click here.

A week in Hawaii or Europe sounds pretty fantastic, but if you want to really wow your new husband or wife, check out this trip idea.

If you sign up for more than just two credit cards, you can rack up a serious amount of points. I'll show you how to use the points to book an epic month-long honeymoon to Bali.

Flights

One of the best ways to get to Bali is to book Cathay Pacific Business Class using Alaska Airlines miles. If Bali is on your list of top honeymoon destinations, sign up for an Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card from our list of Top Airline Cards to start earning those miles.

Business class flights start at just 50,000 points each way with taxes and fees of around $35.

Hotel

Stay at the amazing Andaz Bali for 28 nights using just 420,000 Hyatt points.

If you'd like something more unique, you could book this private villa on Airbnb for under $1,400 with all taxes and fees included. Use the “purchase eraser” and you'll need just 140,000 points to cover an entire month's stay.

This villa has a private swimming pool and full kitchen, plus it's less than half a mile from the beach. If you get sick of each other after all that quality time, there's even a second bedroom.

Point Redemption Tips

Always confirm there is availability before transferring points to travel partners. Once you transfer points, they're stuck there and can't be used for anything outside of that partner.

To earn even more points, put your everyday expenses on your credit cards like groceries, gas, and ping pong balls for the table that you're definitely going to have to get rid of before the wedding.

Common Questions

1. Do I need to get all of these cards? 

No, you don't necessarily have to get these exact cards. This is just an example to show you what's possible. Choose the cards that work best for you. To see more options check out our top credit cards list.

2. What if my vendor doesn't take credit cards?

You probably won't be able to put every single wedding expense on a credit card. Put as many as you can on the card, and you'll still earn plenty of points.

Some vendors charge a small fee like 3.5% to use a credit card, if that's the case consider whether earning the additional points is worth a small fee.

3. But what about the annual fees? 

Many of the best travel cards do come with annual fees, but the benefits far outweigh the cost. A few hundred dollars in annual fees for a honeymoon worth $20,000 or more is an incredible value.

4. Will opening all these credit cards mess up my credit? 

No, as long as you use credit responsibly, opening multiple credit cards can actually help improve your credit score.

Always pay your credit cards in full every month. Paying high APR interest on wedding expenses costs a lot more than a free honeymoon is worth.

Ready to Start Planning Your Honeymoon?

Even if your wedding budget is small, you can easily earn enough points to take a dream honeymoon using the strategies above.

Our sample honeymoons each included incredible luxury experiences like business class flights and 5-star hotels with points to spare!

If you have a bigger budget, you can do some even more incredible things by signing up for more cards and earning hundreds of thousands of additional points.

Where do you want to go on your dream honeymoon? 

Let us know by reaching out on social media or responding to one of our emails!

If this was helpful, we'd be so grateful if you use one of our links when applying for your next credit card!

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.