The credit cards that make wedding season travel so much easier

Planning a wedding isn’t cheap. From location to flowers and food, dollars and cents can easily keep rising. And it doesn’t stop at the wedding day. Then there is the honeymoon. A trip that is intended as a relaxing treat for newlyweds can become a source of financial stress due to the high costs of travel. Add the amount of weddings you’ll be traveling for as a guest, it’s likely to feel like a squeeze on your wallet.

Enter: credit card points. When used correctly and smartly, credit card points can pay for most if not all of your wedding travels. “I’ve used travel rewards to fund stays, international trips, and friends’ trips,” says Danetha Doe, an economist and creator of Money & Mimosas, the personal finance site. “If you’re really going to spend your money, why not use a credit card that gives you back some of your money through rewards?”

Understanding Rewards

The key is figuring out the best card for you and then strategizing how to use it. Doe says the main criteria to consider for credit cards in general are APR, credit limit, and rewards. There are often monthly fees to consider. In terms of perks, for travel rewards cards, you may want to choose one that doesn’t offer international transaction fees or that covers the cost of Global Entry.

“It all depends on what you want to get from the card. The benefits are most important if your main priority is travel. If you use a credit card to boost your credit score, lower fees will be more important to you,” she advises.

The reward system for each card is different, so you will need to choose a card that rewards you for buying something you spend a lot of money on. For example, if you don’t eat out much, don’t choose a card that weighs heavily on restaurant purchases. Bilt, a new credit card from Mastercard, rewards users for paying rent – a huge cost to many.

“Our mission at Bilt is to be the most relevant loyalty program for our members no matter what stage they are in in life. Demographics of young professionals and tenants of all ages have made it clear that travel is one of their priorities in life out of COVID. We wanted BILT to be synonymous with ease of travel,” said BILT Travel Director Richard Kerr. For some people, that’s just two months’ rent.” A BILT employee actually shared the story of how she used BILT points to pay for her honeymoon in the Bahamas.

For Brian Kelly, founder of The Points Guy, flexible rewards programs that allow you to transfer your points to different airlines and hotels is an important thing to consider. “I put most of my spending on convertible cards, so when it comes time to redeem my points, I have many different options for doing so, so not all of my miles and points are with one airline or one hotel program,” he shares. Some of the cards he recommends for this purpose are Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Venture, and Bilt Rewards.

Then there is also a difference between a credit card with travel rewards and a credit card from a major airline or hotel group. Doe offers that both are good options. It just depends on your habits. For example, if you are someone who likes to shop from airlines for the best deals instead of staying loyal to one airline for points and perks, then the airline card will not be right for you.

But, speaking of airlines, that’s actually not where you’ll get the most benefit for points, according to financial website NerdWallet. “You may hear stories of people who have saved hundreds or thousands of dollars with their travel rewards. If you want to save the most cash, you should exchange points for hotel nights instead of flights, at least for some time,” the site notes. “Spending your points on hotel nights comes with other potential benefits, such as the ability to stay longer with free night rewards, or the opportunity to save on food and transportation with hotel shuttle service and free breakfast.”

With so much in mind, the main thing is to do your research and compare credit cards to find the one that best fits your budget and needs. And of course, pay your balance on time so you don’t incur interest. “My most important advice is to know how much you can spend each month on a credit card before opening a new one. Clarifying your credit card budget in advance will help you avoid falling into unmanageable credit card debt,” adds Doe. Additionally, keep in mind that many cards offer bonuses for signing up and offer perks just for signing up, so rate them too.

Taking Doe and Kelly’s advice as well as recommendations from financial sites like NerdWallet and Forbes, here are 10 credit cards with travel rewards benefits to consider as you plan to book your wedding-related travel.

Travel rewards and privileges:

  • 1:1 flight and hotel transfers to 27 partners, including luxury Hyatt hotels.
  • 2x points on travel purchases.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption (protection).
  • Flight delay compensation.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: 0 dollars

April: 16.99 to 24.99%

Travel rewards and privileges:

  • 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases during the first 3 months.
  • 10,000 additional miles (equal to $100 travel) each year, starting with the anniversary.
  • $300 back in statement credits for reservations through Capital One Travel.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Credit.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: $395

April: 17.24% to 24.24%

Travel rewards and privileges:

  • 25% more value when redeemed for travel. (“For example 80,000 points equal to $1,000 travel dollars when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards”).
  • $50 in balance sheets for each annual year to account for hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Total 5 times the points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • 2x on other travel purchases.

Annual fee: $95

April: 16.24% to 23.24%

Travel rewards and privileges:

  • 3 times the points on flights.
  • Global Help Hotline when you travel more than 100 miles from home.
  • Baggage insurance plan.
  • Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee (Amex will refund the difference if you find a lower rate elsewhere).
  • There are no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: 250 dollars

April: 16.74% – 23.74%

Travel rewards and privileges:

  • 25,000 online reward points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of opening your account ($250 statement balance for travel and dining).
  • 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all purchases.
  • There is no expiration on your points.
  • Flexibility to redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel and dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, vacation rentals, baggage fees, and restaurants.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: 0 dollars

April: 0% for the first 15 billing cycles for purchases. Then 14.24% to 24.24%

Travel rewards and privileges:

  • $200 hotel credit.
  • Entry to the American Express International Lounge at the airport.
  • Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • 5 times Membership Rewards® points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 100,000 points after you spend $6000 in your first 6 months.

Annual fee: $695

April: 16.74% to 23.74%

Travel rewards and privileges:

  • 1.5x miles on every dollar on every purchase.
  • Discover will match all the miles you earn at the end of the first year.
  • Miles can be used for travel or exchanged for cash.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: 0 dollars

April: 0% for 15 months. Then 12.24% to 23.24%

Travel rewards and privileges:

  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • $300 annual travel credit.
  • 5 times the points on flights purchased through Chase.
  • 10x points on hotels and rental cars purchased through Chase.
  • Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS Fee Credit.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: $550

April: 17.24% to 24.24%

Travel rewards and privileges:

  • 12 times more on hotels and resorts.
  • 6x points on gas.
  • Get free gold membership from Hilton Honors.
  • Free Weekend Night Bonus from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 per year.
  • Access to more than 1,200 lounges at airports.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: $95

April: 16.49% to 25.49%

Travel rewards and privileges:

  • 6x Points on eligible JetBlue purchases.
  • Exchange points with family and friends.
  • $100 annual credit after purchasing a JetBlue Vacations package of $100 or more.
  • You get 10% of your points back after redeeming them and traveling on a JetBlue flight.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee: $99

April: 0% for 12 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. Then 16.24% or 20.24% or 25.24%

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