How I’m Going on a Free Honeymoon

She didn’t actually leave me on my knee

I got engaged and it was such a fantastic experience. I’m still feeling the happiness high and trying to revel in our moment together. My girlfriend said yes to the ring and more importantly the question (Will You Marry Me?). When we called our parents and returned to the room we promised each other that we would enjoy our “Engaged Era” and try not to plan too much stuff. We already had an idea on when we’d like to get married so we had some time. The problem (or maybe the really great thing about both of us) is that we are both planners. On the flight back we had our bridal party invites ordered, initial guest lists created, ideas on honeymooning, and only a week after we had a venue booked.

Of course I had a very specific job as the Groom and it wasn’t just to look fabulous at the altar waiting for my beautiful bride to glide down the aisle towards me… it was to plan a banger of a Honeymoon.

I’ve had some experience traveling

I worked at a job that allowed me to use my rewards and my credit cards when I traveled for work. There was one year where I stayed over 230 nights in hotels. While that was not really sustainable for me it did earn me a ton of status with a few airlines, credit points, and ultimately free money. I spent a full month in South America using points to fly there and some of the hotels on points. This is how I earned the honor of really planning this (I also really enjoy planning a trip). With that said, I’ve had to do some research on new cards, what aligns with our hopeful trip, and even talked with other creators like Lee Huffman (Founder of If you’re looking for some excellent pointers on traveling and cards he’s your guy. 

Here’s the plan:

The goal for the trip is to try to ‘pay’ for as much of the big ticket items (flights and lodging) with points while also maximizing our rewards while we’re over there! We’re still deciding on exact location although we’ve narrowed it down to Europe most likely. So here’s where we started and the plan…

1) First thing was first – where did we want to go? Once we had a general idea on the location then I could move onto number 2 easily.

2) With the location you can look through current reward programs you have and see if they have partners. Example would be Chase since they have partners where you can transfer points 1 to 1 to their other partners. The other example is an airline like United that has a card (earn miles) that you can use to book within the Star Alliance. This allowed me to identify which partners fly to the location we want and which brands have lodging I can utilize.

3) After I found the partners, I hunted down the cards with the best point conversion (Thanks BaldThoughts on this one – brilliant breakdown) and then lined that up with the partners in the region we were traveling too.

4) The final step to the plan was understanding the budget, what was going to be spent over the next year, and what cards had bonuses for signing up and spending a certain amount. Example here is Chase Sapphire has a 60,000 bonus offer if you spend a certain amount in 3 or 4 months (at the time of writing). So if we knew we were going to spend a $10,000 over 7 months that means we could probably do two of those offers by just spending normally.

5) I created a sheet to show which cards we were going to use and make sure we were hitting the spending requirements for the bonus. We essentially combined expenses onto one card at a time and just split the costs.

Part 1 of a long experiment

We do have some time to plan this trip and really accumulate some points. In the grand scheme of things, anyone could use these point bonuses and strategies for smaller trips and even paying off cards. I’m also not the guy who uses a specific card for groceries or gas, but that’s another way of maximizing your card. Keep in mind card deals change all the time and we’re still talking about utilizing credit which means I’m still paying attention to a budget and what we’re spending.

If you’re interested in the Chase Sapphire after doing your own research or the Marriott Bonvoy card, you can click the link on each card and also earn us some points! 

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