Earning Miles and Points During Wedding Season

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I had a conversation with someone yesterday about how to earn miles and points during the super popular summer wedding season.  Much of it isn’t substantially different than the ways we earn points in everyday life, but sometimes the large amount of money that people have to spend at once to attend weddings makes them more interested in finding ways to maximize those expenses.  In case you fall into that category, this post is for you!

At our own Vegas wedding in 2008!

Buy the wedding gifts via a shopping portal:

Many people register for wedding gifts at retailers that pay out pretty well via online shopping portals.  We’ll leave the discussion of whether or not they will actually use that $75 cup and saucer set for another day.  If you decide to buy off the couple’s registry, then it makes sense to do it online via a shopping portal to maximize your miles and points.  Here are a couple example payouts for common wedding gift retailers (note that these were accurate as of May 2013, but they will change over time):

I use evreward.com to quickly compare various shopping portals to see who is providing the highest payout.  Naturally this is done after you have decided on what you want to purchase, and searched to make sure you are getting the best deal possible for that item.  Though sometimes it is best to just buy it from the retailer where the couple is registered so it can be taken off the registry immediately and they don’t receive duplicates.  I do want to also point out that some retailers specify you will not earn points when buying off a registry.  In practice this is not always true, but be aware of those terms.

If you plan to give a gift card (or purchase a gift using one), then remember to purchase a gift card at a retailer that provides a bonus on one of your credit cards.  This includes 5x at Lowe’s Home Improvement Store via the Chase Freedom (they have an extensive collection of retailer gift cards) 5x at office supply stores via the Ink Plus® Business Card, and 2x at grocery stores via American Express(R) Premier Rewards Gold Card.  Many other cards also provide bonuses at certain types of retailers.  You can also buy the gift card online via a portal, though whether or not it pays out in points depends on the retailer and the type of gift card purchased.

Additionally, if you are buying yourself a new outfit to wear to the wedding then you would go through these same steps to maximize that purchase.

Earn miles and points for your travels:

If you are having to travel to the wedding, then make sure you are earning miles and points along the way.  At the very least register for the loyalty programs for the hotels and airlines you are utilizing, but also look to see if there are any promotions going on that could result in you earning additional points.  If there is a promotion, you usually need to register for it prior to your hotel stay or prior to booking your airline ticket.

Ensure the group room block is the best deal:

Many times the bride and groom set up a group room block at a hotel for their guests.  This is often done for convenience and to secure a decent deal for their guests who are traveling to attend the wedding.  Sometimes it is easiest for all involved for the guests to simply book via that room block to keep things organized and stream-lined.  However, if you are on a budget then it makes sense to do a little online pricing to make sure you are getting the best rate possible for that hotel. You can do that via sites like Travelocity.com or Hipmunk.com, or just play around on the hotel’s website with different discounts you might be eligible for like AAA or AARP.  Of course, if it is a chain hotel you could also consider using points instead of cash to bring down the out-of-pocket costs of attending the wedding.  If you don’t particularly care if you earn hotel points on the stay, then consider booking via Rocketmiles.com or PointsHound.com that could net your hundreds or thousands of miles just for booking via that site.

From wedding gifts, to bachelor parties, to traveling to the wedding, it can all add up very quickly.  I love weddings, but my wallet is glad that most of my friends are now passed that stage (though some are on their second weddings).  However, when we do attend weddings, we are sure to maximize our points earnings to the fullest!

Let me know if I left out your favorite wedding points maximization tip!


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  1. Funny, just bought an Amex GC at OfficeMax at 5x for a friend’s wedding. For a Kohl’s purchase, I go the extra step of buying the Kohl’s gift card at officeMax at 5x with the Ink, then go through the UR portal at 10x and pay with the gift card, so I’m really earning 15x.

  2. I just got married, and raked in tons of points from the wedding expenses. Specifically, our reception was at a restaurant, which allowed us to max out our Q2 Freedom 5x UR spend. Remaining dining and transportation costs (including the limo and honeymoon) went on the Sapphire Preferred to earn 2.14x UR points. And everything else went on the SPG AmEx card.

    Also…just a few days ago, ebates was running an anniversary special where you could earn 14% cash back at Macy’s, Nordstroms, and a bunch of other stores. I took advantage of that to grab some of our registry items that we didn’t receive for the wedding.

  3. FreeTravelGuys, love it – good job!
    Caryn, you are so right that attending a wedding is nothing compared to throwing a wedding! Sounds like you guys made the most of expenses you were going to have anyway. Good job!

  4. Is it bad that I’ve considered giving a Visa GC to a friend for her wedding? Just torn because I’m thinking I’d give $250 (for gf and I) but would Only do it if I could use an Ink card for 5x and the max is $200. I’ll probably just give a check (maybe a Bluebird check?!)

    Oh and it’s Nordstrom (no s). Btw you look great in your wedding pic!

    • Jeremy, does it make you bad? Um, no! Does it make you a points junkie? Well, of course! I’m terrible with Nordstrom(s) since that is how we say it here in East Texas. Ha! Though if $250 is the going rate for wedding gifts these days, I need to have another wedding. 😉 I’m going to go out on a limb and bet you are from the NE. Wedding gifts get pricey up there! Thanks for the wedding pic compliment. It’s amazing what hair and make-up folks can do. 😉

  5. Wedding wave over with your friends? You know what is coming next right? The baby wave! 😉 I don’t have neither to deal with, just graduation wave, which is costing me a lot lot more!

  6. When my partner and I got married, we put all our expenses on Citi AAdvantage cards, of which we each had 2 that had a 75k bonus. The result? We flew first class all the way on our honeymoon to the Galapagos and Buenos Aires!

  7. SC, we are actually in the second round of the baby wave. Everyone is on their second! Though my husband is a bit older so we are starting to hit the graduation wave with the children of his friends. That is a bit pricey!
    NVD, woohoo – sounds like a great honeymoon. 😉

    • Will, ha ha. Yours is our one wedding to attend this year. But, you are about a decade younger than most of our friends, so that’s the “price you pay” for hanging with the youngins. Looking forward to it!

  8. Good tips if even just attending a wedding. I went to a wedding last weekend for my last friend who finally tied the knot. Used several tactics above to earn more points and miles, especially the travel part.

  9. My guesstimate is that you’re both leaning somewhere between 55 to 65 degrees to the left in that wedding pic. Must be an only in Vegas thing…

  10. Just a heads up: some sites explicitly exclude registry items from portal bonuses. For example, The AAdvantage site specifically excludes registry items when purchasing from Land of Nod, so be sure to check the fine print when buying from a registry.

  11. Just a heads up that some retailers in the UR Mall say that purchases from a bridal/gift registry won’t earn points (Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond). Contrary to the T&C’s however, I did just earn points from Bed Bath & Beyond for buying via a gift registry – YMMV.

  12. Alexis and Chris, interesting. I have never had the points not post, but good to know that it is a YMMV situation if you go off the registry. Everyone in the wedding industry is trying to make/save a buck! 🙂

  13. i’ll admit the NE (especially NYC area) is pricey! My coworker got married last month and I gave her a bluebird check for $200 (just me who went.) I see her 5 days a week and didn’t want any drama due to the amount of $$$ I gave. I was just in Seattle this past weekend for my cousin’s wedding and used my Chase Sapphire Preferred to buy something from Macy’s and get the 3x points.

  14. Good post, I started up my blog, because especially in NYC, weddings are extremely pricy, and I wanted to help a lot of my friends who got engaged a few months after me. I wrote a post talking about how I charged my caterer on the Citi Forward card and since it was coded as a restaurant, I did get 5x points. Caterers make up such a huge portion of the wedding cost too.


    Of course with all the Citi perk abuse talk these days, it might be risky even if it’s not manufactured spending!

  15. My experience is the same as Chris L’s. Macy’s excludes registry purchases from any bonus points available any other way. So does Bed Bath & Beyond. I didn’t know that until afterwards. So now I get the registry, buy nothing, wait a while, and buy the item as if for myself, perhaps even from another store of the same chain’s or online. This totally messes up the store’s record of what’s already been purchased for the couple, of course, but the store created this problem, not me. The couple can always take the item back if it gets duplicated.

  16. Montane Vole & Chris, perhaps it varies? I bought a present from Macy’s and got the email from Ultimate Rewards that I got 3x points on the purchase (bought item on May 12th and got the email yesterday May 21st). I definitely bought it from the registry (went to UR shopping portal, clicked on Macy’s, then Wedding Registry, searched for the bride, picked item, then checked out.)

  17. I’ve always received all the portal cash back from shopping off a Macy’s registry. To be fair, my experiences are all via cash back portals rather than UR.

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