Weddings can be a pretty expensive proposition. The average cost of a wedding in the US is more than $26,000, although most people spend less than $10,000. I guess the multiple Kardashian weddings skew the number up. After spending all of that money on a wedding, who wants to spend lots on a honeymoon? Yet many Americans do. They don’t have to, as there are ways to get a free honeymoon.
I Did Not Get A Free Honeymoon
I recently wrote a post related to how I got involved in travel hacking. It was quite eyeopening to learn that I could travel for pennies on the dollar. However, this knowledge came a bit late for my own honeymoon. My honeymoon was probably the last major trip I took at full price. Had I known about the ease of scoring frequent flyer miles, my trip to Cancun would have been quite a bit cheaper.
You Can Get A Free Honeymoon
Through the use of travel hacking, you can get a free honeymoon. All that it takes is a couple of strategic credit card signup bonuses. I do want to note that by free, I’m referring to highly discounted flights and hotel rooms. Food, ground transportation, and attractions would require more than the two signups that the title suggests. There are taxes on any flights that you can’t get around easily without certain credit cards that give credits for purchases. Additionally, there is the possibility that the hotel will charge a resort fee.
Get The Starwood Preferred Guest Card
Until April 5, 2017, the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card (link with higher signup bonus good until April 5, 2017) is offering a 35,000 point signup bonus with 25,000 paid out after spending $3,000 within three months and another 10,000 paid out after spending an additional $2,000 in the first six months on the personal version. You’d need to spend $5,000 and $3,000 over the same time frames to get the same bonus on the business version. **Please note that you cannot get this bonus if you’ve ever earned it before.
This 35,000 bonus is the highest that anyone has ever seen for the great card. With the recent merger between Marriott and Starwood, it may disappear in short order, so the time to apply is now.
While this number of points might not sound as impressive as some other cards that might be offering 50,000 or even 100,000, it can actually provide even more value.
When I first started reading travel hacking websites a few years ago, this card was the number one recommendation for everyday spending. Users of the Starwood Preferred Guest (personal and business versions) can transfer to just about any airline that has a frequent flyer program. These points transfer at a 1:1 ratio in most, but not all, instances.
Transfer Starwood Points To Marriott
Those who transfer in 20,000 point batches get a 5,000 mile bonus. This results in what is effectively 1.25 miles per dollar spent, which is a pretty good deal.
However, for the strategy that I’m recommending, you’d want to transfer these points to Marriott Rewards. Marriott recently bought out Starwood, and those who have an account with both programs can link and transfer back and forth between them. Starwood points are worth 3 Marriott Rewards points each.
If you spend the required $5,000 to get the 35,000 bonus points, you’d also earn at least 5,000 additional points at one point per dollar of spending. These 40,000 would then equal 120,000 Marriott Rewards points.
If your spouse-to-be has not earned the bonus before and you still have some wedding expenses coming up, you both could possibly get the bonus by applying before April 5. These two bonuses would equal 240,000 Marriott Rewards points, and you’d be set. I’ll show you how below.
Sign Up For the Marriott Rewards Card
If you’ve only signed up for one of the Starwood cards, your second application should be the Marriott Rewards Premier card (sign up the the highlighted link–I may receive bonus points if you do, and I’d definitely appreciate your support–this is the highest offer currently available so you lose nothing by using my link).
This card offers an 80,000 point bonus after spending at least $3,000 in the first 90 days after your application. This will result in at least 83,000 points. 80,000 of these points will come from the bonus, and the additional 3,000 Marriott Rewards points will come from meeting the minimum spend.
You’ll earn one point per dollar spent on everything outside of restaurants and travel. These purchases earn two points per dollar. Additionally, purchases at Marriott properties earn five points per dollar.
If the Marriott Rewards Premier Card is your second card, you’d now have at least 203,000 points after transferring the points from the Starwood card. If you both decide to get a Starwood card and then get the Marriott card, you’d then have more than 320,000 points should you be able to meet the required spend.
This is where it gets really, really interesting and where the free honeymoon comes into play.
Get A Marriott Vacation Package
Marriott is pretty unique among loyalty programs, because it provides the option of getting a week at a hotel AND frequent flyer miles. For 200,000 Marriott Rewards points, you could stay a week at any of their category 1-5 hotels and get 50,000 miles in most domestic airline programs (as well as a few international ones). These miles could get you to many places throughout the continental United States, including California and Florida.
The 320,000 points that you could get should you choose to get two Starwood cards (one for you and your significant other) and a Marriott card would get you 7 nights in a category 6 hotel and 120,000 miles. This would be enough miles for a trip to Europe for both of you in economy class. You could also get 7 nights in a category 7 hotel and 100,000 miles, which would be enough for a trip to Hawaii if you can find availability.
If you both got a Starwood card and a Marriott card, you’d have more than 400,000 Marriott Rewards points available, and that would score you a week at just about any Marriott property in the world and some lower level Ritz Carlton properties. You can search the various Marriott vacation package options at the Marriott site. These options open the possibility of a free honeymoon to just about anyone who has solid credit.