My Father-In-Law’s $25,000 Pain Was My 250,000-Point Gain! How I Used Credit Cards to Turn Wedding Expenses Into Big Travel
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full advertising policy: How we make money.
One of my favorite quotes ever is “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” My wedding was a perfect metaphor of this!
My wife and I met in May 2015 on Tinder, and I had this funny feeling on our first date that she was the one (aww, cute!). After 6 months, she dragged me from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City to avoid long-distance dating as she was attending college. While dating, I introduced her to the world of travel rewards credit cards. If not for this awesome hobby, we would have not been able to travel as much as we have.
In September 2017, we got engaged and started the whopping task of planning a wedding. And we immediately put together a plan to turn our wedding expenses into a free vacation.
We Turned My Father-In-Law’s Dislike of Credit Cards Into $1,000s in Travel Rewards
As we had the conversation with her father about our budget, he agreed to pay $25,000. While we were so blessed and grateful to have that, an average wedding now typically costs ~$27,000+.
We planned on getting married in Los Angeles, where both of our families live. Realizing that $25,000 won’t go very far in Los Angeles, we had to make the decision of either going into debt for our wedding, or get creative. Given the fact I have student loans, we wanted to avoid more debt like the plague. We decided to get creative!
And because my father-in-law doesn’t believe in credit cards all those miles & points were ours for the taking! Our goal was to earn enough travel rewards to take a dream honeymoon! We earned the points we needed, but it didn’t quite work out to use them for a honeymoon. I’ll explain why.
How We Earned $4,800+ in Travel Rewards
We decided to apply for the following credit cards to get the most out of our wedding costs. While we did not take advantage of the specific spending categories all that much, we were looking for high value intro bonuses. We both ended up being approved for:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express – We each earned 60,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® – We each earned 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
With the extra points we earned from spending (including meeting the minimum spending requirements) we ended up with ~130,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points and ~120,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. I estimate that I can easily get almost $5,000 in travel with these points because both Chase and American Express have excellent transfer partners.
The only charge that qualified for bonus spending categories was the ~$1,500 we spent on catering. And yes, we had the In-N-Out Burger food truck at our wedding, it was awesome!
How We Are Going to Use the Points
After we spent roughly $18,000 on our wedding, we put the rest in savings and were excited that we earned ~$4,800 in travel rewards from our spending! That’s a healthy return.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to use the points we earned for our honeymoon to Rarotonga because we didn’t have enough time between earning our points and booking our travel. The key to getting the most from your miles and points is being flexible and planning as far in advance as possible so you can find available award flights and hotels. But that wasn’t an option for us in this case.
But we do plan on using the points for a First Class trip to Greece in the future!
Weddings are extremely complex, and wedding planning feels like pulling your own teeth out. However, the points & miles we earned made it just a bit better! If you are able to use travel credit cards to your advantage for a large purchase or event, it can be a great return for your spending!
Did you use credit cards for your special day? Or any other large expense recently?
Let’s hear it in the comments!Are you interested in learning the secrets to using miles & points to travel cheaply? Then subscribe to our newsletter. And be sure to follow us on Twitter!
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressAPPLY NOW
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
$200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
$240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
New! American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
$200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
$200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
$300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships. Enrollment required.
$179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
$695 Annual Fee.
See Pay Over Time APR
Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)