With wedding season wrapping up, it’s never too early to start thinking about next year. Although weddings are a wonderful time of celebration, traveling to different destinations can get pricey very quickly and takes some planning ahead.
A few years ago I had friends getting married in the same summer – one in the Dominican Republic and one in Vancouver (not complaining about the destinations!) – so I know firsthand how being a wedding guest and traveling long distances can be tons of fun...but also pricey.
The average American guest pays $673 to attend a wedding. If you happen to be attending more than one out-of-town wedding this season, you know that between flights and hotels, travel costs can really start to add up. The good news is, you can save on your travel by tapping into your loyalty rewards during the wedding season. By following these four tips, you can celebrate these special occasions without breaking the bank.
Book Your Flight First
Booking your flight should be one of the first things you look into once you receive a save the date. Remember that the number of award seats for loyalty travelers is limited on some flights, so if you leave getting your tickets to the last minute, you might be out of luck. In the case of a short-notice wedding, British Airways is one example of an airline that has a special site that lists last-minute availability for loyalty flyers. For the best luck, book sooner rather than later.
If all reward seats are taken on your desired flight, consider flying to an alternate and potentially smaller airport near your destination. You’ll have better chances of snagging an award seat on these flights. Just remember, once you get word of the destination and time of the wedding celebration, don’t hesitate to secure the most affordable flight as soon as possible.
Include Your Friends and Family
In most cases, weddings are a friends and family affair. Consider using referral programs to earn points and miles as you gear up to take multiple wedding flights. For example, the Miles More Friends referral program from Virgin Atlantic rewards you for telling your friends or family about their flying club. Flyers can earn 2,000 miles if they take their first round trip in Economy, 5,000 if they travel in Premium Economy and 10,000 if they book an Upper-Class trip. Your friends will also benefit from the program by receiving up to 3,000 bonus points when they take their first flight.
Alaska Airlines also offers a handsome reward for referring friends and family. You earn 2,500 bonus miles for each person you refer to an Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card. In return, they will receive 25,000 Bonus Miles if approved. You and your friends/family can both benefit from the bonus miles when booking your wedding travel.
Or, consider gifting or transferring your rewards to family and friends. For example, United Airlines MileagePlus offers members the ability to transfer 500 to 25,000 miles from one account to another. Typically, mileage transfers cost $7.50 per 500 miles, plus a processing fee per transaction.
Keep a look out for regular promotions where you can save on transfer fees and receive discounts on per mile charges.
Use Your Wedding Gift Buying to Build Your Points
While searching for that perfect wedding present, look into stores that will reward you with points or miles for your purchase. Many airlines have deals with stores you probably already shop at. Target, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and Macy’s are a few of the many retailers where you can earn miles while you’re purchasing a wedding gift.
Skymiles Shopping through Delta allows you to earn miles on everyday online shopping. Nike, Apple, Home Depot and Walmart are just a few of the many retail stores that can reward you with miles through their expansive online shopping portal. American Airlines, Air Canada, and Marriott hotels are other programs that can offer you great rewards points for simply shopping on the online portals.
In fact, nearly all airlines and hotel programs offer some sort of shopping portal. Be sure to browse the different online stores to find that perfect gift for the wedding. You can also find out which program is offering the biggest shopping bonus by checking out evreward.com.
You might also want to consider giving the happy couple points or miles for their wedding gift. Depending on your points balance, you may be able to spend the points and miles you already have rather than purchasing a gift. This can be a very affordable and thoughtful option and can potentially help the newlyweds get to their honeymoon destination or encourage them to pay you a visit on their next vacation.
Look for Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses
There are many different credit cards that offer bonuses for signing up. To have access to these bonuses, you usually need to spend a certain amount of money on the card within an allotted amount of time (usually a two to three month time period). Flyers can take advantage of these bonuses by making purchases on wedding gifts, renting a tux or buying a bridesmaid dress.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers 50,000 bonus points for new customers and was named a 'Best Credit Card' for travel rewards by MONEY® Magazine. Chase credit card points can be transferred and redeemed for flying points at airlines such as British Airways, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic and others.
By following one or more of these tips, you can have a very enjoyable and affordable wedding season experience.