When you have the expenses of a wedding on your shoulders, a luxe honeymoon may feel out of the question. There are a lot of ways to save money for your post-wedding getaway (hi honeymoon cash funds), but money isn’t the only valuable currency when it comes to travel. Hello, rewards points!
It’s never too early to start collecting points for your honeymoons (many points don’t expire). So, it’s best to start now—and to make sure you’re racking them up from all directions. Here’s how to earn the most travel rewards points and redeem them (quickly and easily) for your honeymoon.
What are travel reward points?
Travel rewards or award points are traded currency that are accepted by certain airlines, hotels, and even rental cars. While there are many ways to earn points, most programs are based around brand loyalty. The more loyalty and activity shown to each brand, the more points you receive. Travel rewards are basically more sophisticated (and valuable) coffee shop punch cards—for airlines, hotels, and more.
There’s a common misconception, though, that you can only earn flight points by flying and hotel points by booking hotel stays. You can actually earn points in other less expensive, simple ways.
Photo Credit // Dmitry Zvolskiy
How To Build Up Travel Reward Points
Aside from flying dozens of flights or regularly staying at hotels, there are many ways to earn travel reward points. Some may even coincide with daily activities or purchases you’re already doing or making.
Get a credit card with great intro offers.
Credit cards and points are a well-known coupling. Opening a new credit card with a high-quality introductory offer is definitely the fastest way to gain a lot of travel or other rewards points. Many credit card companies and banks will partner with airlines and hotel companies (or utilized their own travel platforms) to offer rewards for new customers. You can literally get hundreds of points that add up to hundreds of dollars that you can use towards your honeymoon.
Sounds easy, right? It is—but tread carefully. With any credit card offer, it’s best to move slowly and be sure you fully understand your role in receiving and points or rewards. Often times, the cardholder needs to spend a certain amount within a certain time period (usually the first 90 days). If you open a new card ahead of your wedding planning and expenses, you may have no trouble reaching that necessary minimum. Be sure to talk to a financial expert at your bank before jumping head first into too many “free” offers.
Will this affect my credit score?
Good question. The answer is yes and no. Opening a new credit card may temporarily lower your credit marginally (this is normal as the banks inquire about your credit). However, it’s a minor dip in comparison to the score advantage of having a larger amount of available credit to offset your percent of owned credit.
Confused? Don’t be. Very basically, your credit score will take a hit if you can’t pay off your credit card balances. If an introductory offer requires you to spend a certain amount, be sure to talk to your partner about your expenses and if you both agree that you have the funds to keep up with new balances.
There are a lot of different routes to take when it comes to credit cards and rewards. Some companies will offer travel rewards cards without annual fees or other limitations. This realm requires a good amount of research. Your bank or financial advisor can help you figure out the best solution for you.
Take some surveys.
It’s hard to imagine having too much free time while wedding planning. Any time you have to yourself probably isn’t time you want to spend doing much more than relaxing. However, you may be surprised to learn that taking even 5-10 minutes out of your day (even while you watch Netflix every night) to take a brief survey can help you pool some extra travel points. Services such as eRewards and PointsForSurveys work with popular travel companies to exchange your responses for redeemable points.
Shop for points.
No, you can’t literally buy points at a points store, but many commerce companies have partnered with airlines to bring rewards incentives to consumers. Do you research so you don’t miss out if your favorite airline is working with one of your favorite brands. For example, here are some promotions currently offered by airlines and hotels.
- JetBlue and Amazon: Save your big Amazon purchases for the next time you’re flying with JetBlue! In flight purchases earn you 3x your spending in redeemable points.
- Southwest and Harry & David (and partners, including 1-800-Flowers, Fruit Bouquets and more): A great way to send gifts and score some extra flying miles.
- United and Mileageplus Shopping (brands like Neiman Marcus, Walmart, and everything in between): When shopping through United’s portal, you may be able to score large percentages back on points (depending on the promotion).
- Emirates and the Wall Street Journal: If you’re an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal but not a subscriber, sign up for a subscription through the Emirates portal. Each payment could be earning you extra travel points.
- Alaskan Airlines and Rover: Give your pet a treat by hiring a caring sitter for your honeymoon—you’ll earn back points on Alaskan!
- Delta and Ticketmaster: Big fan of music and sports events? If you go through Delta to purchase your event tickets, you’ll be rewarded with a percentage of points.
- American Airlines and AVIS Rental Car: If you need a rental car, try going through AA’s AAdvantage program. You could earn up to 500 miles per rental.
- Virgin Atlantic and Apple: Broke your iPhone screen? Or interested in buying a new laptop? Redeem through Virgin to earn flying miles.
- Hawaiian Airlines and Teleflora Flowers: Send flowers to a loved one and earn flights from Hawaiian airlines. You’ll be wearing flowers around your neck and lounging by the beach in no time!
- Southwest and Laithwaite’s Wine: Southwest partnered with this popular wine brand to offer a sum total of points for signing up for a case of red, white, or mixed wine bottles.
It pays to be loyal. By staying exclusive to one airline or hotel chain, you’re better able to streamline your points earnings. You can choose to stay loyal to more than one company, but you’ll be able to squeeze the most out of one airline or one hotel chain. So, here are some things to consider before choosing who you’ll stay loyal to:
- Easy access to your desired honeymoon location. Make sure an airline has direct flights (or minimal stops) to your final destination.
- Accommodation in your desired honeymoon location. Choose a hotel chain or company with accommodations you love in your honeymoon destination.
- Opportunities to upgrade. Oftentimes travel reward programs will give premiere experiences and upgrades to those members who exceed certain points or earnings overtime.
- Provide a large partner base. Whether it’s a grouping of international airline partners or a hotel chain that occupies many branches or brands of other hotels (including B&Bs), make sure your points go a long way when it comes to redemption opportunities.
Go back in time.
Some airlines will retroactively redeem your points from previous flights (some even up to a year ago). Scroll through your emails and enter old confirmation codes into your account to see if they add any extra points to your accounts. You can also reach out to the airline directly for further assistance applying old flights for points. Sometimes a computer will tell you no but a human will tell you yes.
Photo Credit // Negative Space
How To Redeem Your Travel Reward Points
OK, you got the points. Now what? To turn points into experiences, it helps to understand where the points came from and the most efficient way to withdraw them.
- Through your credit card loyalty programs. If you decided to open a travel rewards credit card, there are several ways to redeem your points. You can book the hotel or airline directly through the platform (your points will be applied automatically). Some cards also allow you to directly translate your earned points to an airline or hotel’s travel program. However, keep in mind that if you’re waiting until the last minute to book your honeymoon, translating points from a bank to an airline or hotel chain could take time to auto-populate.
- Through select airlines, hotels, and reward programs. If you decided to opt-out of the bank or credit card route and sign up directly with the airline, redeeming points is pretty straight forward. Once you log into your associated account and enter in your desired flight or accommodation booking, the airline or hotel will give you the option to see the price adjusted for the cost of points. Select the option to book with the pool of points totaled in your account.
Booking your romantic destination with your partner doesn’t have to ruin budgets or deepen your wallet. Gather and redeem points to make your dream destination just a bit more in your financial reach.