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

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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.

Credit Card Rewards Turned Our Wedding Expenses Into Free Travel

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!

The Wedding Planning Was Awful, But Our Wedding Day Was Nothing But Happiness And Double-Doubles

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!

Bottom Line

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!

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