How far in advance should you book your honeymoon flights to get the best deal, whether you’re using points or not?
It used to be eleven months in advance, but now airlines are really waiting until the last minute to release award seats, starting at three weeks out, up until the week of departure. If you’re booking with points, some airlines will allow free changes to the dates or routes if something better comes up. Some will charge a fee—usually $150—to change award tickets, but that can make sense if you’re saving a ton of miles or getting a much better itinerary. Within the week of departure, a lot of airlines open up the lowest amount of miles needed, so it may make sense to pay the fee to get a hundred thousand miles back. Always keep checking, as the trend has been toward last-minute booking.
What are the best days of the week to travel, price-wise?
I recommend leaving on Saturdays and Tuesdays because most leisure travelers are staying the weekend and most business travelers go Monday, Thursday, Friday. You can save hundreds of dollars and thousands of miles if you are a little bit flexible with your days.
Should you buy trip protection with your airline tickets?
Most airlines and cruises will try to sell you travel protection, which is sometimes useless and very expensive. I use Insure My Trip, which compares tons of different policies, so you can get much better comprehensive coverage for a fraction of the price.
How can couples turn wedding bills into points?
If you’re having your reception at a hotel that gives loyalty points, there can be huge payoffs. But planning anywhere is a massive expense. People can book their entire wedding on a points credit card and get double or triple earnings, making a big dent in honeymoon travel costs.
Can you get rewards for booking a block of rooms for guests, even though you don’t pay for them in the end?
Yes! Most chains have meeting-planner programs where if you book rooms, you get points. Often wedding coordinators will use their cards to hold the block, but then you’d lose out on the rewards. Write it in your planner’s contract that those expenses will go on your points-earning credit card.
Which credit card offers the best deal?
The key is to get points that are super-flexible. One of the best out there, period, is the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express. You can transfer those points to more than 30 airlines—and use them at Starwood hotels, obviously—or for experiences like concerts and sporting events. If you’re having your wedding at a Starwood property, it’s a no-brainer. The other is the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which gives double points on all travel and dining, whether you charge your rehearsal dinner or honeymoon meals.
Which card works best overseas?
Chase Sapphire Preferred; it has no foreign transaction fees, while some cards charge up to 3 percent of every dollar spent abroad!
If a bride and groom each open their own cards, will it maximize rewards?
Absolutely. Sign-up bonuses are really, really high these days, though most require that you spend $3,000 within 90 days. You’ll be spending a lot on your wedding, so it’s a good time to get new credit cards. Just make sure you can pay them off! Also, keep in mind that some programs let you combine points, meaning you and your spouse-to-be can pool them for flights or hotels.
As airlines continue to devalue mileage programs, which one has the sweetest rewards?
American Airlines is the most lucrative, as a whole. They recently merged with US Airways, so those miles are now in one account.
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