How I saved thousands on my honeymoon flights with points and miles

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After you marry your forever partner, what better way to launch the next chapter of your lives together than with the trip of a lifetime? Whether your dream honeymoon destination is in South Beach or the Southern Hemisphere, spending some time with the love of your life right after exchanging your vows is a great move.

But, we don’t need to tell you that your dream honeymoon can get expensive. And, if you’re planning on splurging — and really, what better time to splurge than for your honeymoon? — the price tag of your trip can easily creep into the thousands of dollars. Between flights, hotels, transport, food and more, honeymoons can be a huge expense. Thankfully, travel rewards can help you to save hundreds — if not thousands — on your honeymoon.

I can speak from experience. My husband and I got married last month, and amid all of the wedding planning in the lead-up to our big day, we knew we wanted to go somewhere special for our honeymoon. So, we settled on Southeast Asia for our splurge, once-in-a-lifetime trip. And, rather than pay for our flights, we put our travel rewards to use.

Now that we’re back from our honeymoon, we can confirm that our splurge trip was the right move. In fact, our flights were so fantastic that we didn’t even want to get off the planes. Think of a bed in the sky, food you’d be thrilled to eat at a nice restaurant on the ground and terrific service. Here’s how we booked our $18,584 honeymoon flights for less than $175 — and how, with some effort, flexibility and homework, you can do the same.

To start our Southeast Asia adventure, we flew from New York to Singapore. At 9,537 miles and slotted at 18 hours and 50 minutes in flying time, Singapore Airlines’ nonstop flight from New York-Kennedy (JFK) to Singapore (SIN) is currently the longest flight in the world.

Since it was our honeymoon, we decided to splurge on business class — especially considering it’s a nearly 19-hour journey. While we could have elected to fly with a stop in Frankfurt along the way (and potentially even fly in Singapore Suites first class on the A380), we flew nonstop. And, after having experienced delicious food, amazing service and a very comfortable lie-flat bed in the sky, we’re glad we did.

Dessert to celebrate our honeymoon on our Singapore Airlines flight.

For a one-way business-class seat on this route, Singapore Airlines charges anywhere between $3,600 and nearly $10,000. On the date we were flying, the airline was charging $6,516 per person for a seat in business — that would be $13,032 for both of us. To state the obvious, that’s way out of our budget. Instead, we used travel rewards and paid just $11.20 out of pocket. Yes, you read that right — just over $11 total.

That’s because we elected to redeem Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles for the flight. A one-way trip between New York and Singapore costs just 99,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles and $5.60 in taxes and fees in business class, provided you can find Saver award availability. (Singapore Airlines doesn’t offer Singapore Suites on the nonstop flight between New York and Singapore.)

A one-way business-class flight from New York to Singapore costs 99,000 miles at the Saver level and just $5.60 in taxes and fees.

Now, most Americans — including myself — don’t have a stash of Singapore KrisFlyer miles sitting around. But fortunately, the miles are incredibly easy to acquire because the airline partners with all the major US credit card transferable points programs. In other words, you can transfer Chase Ultimate RewardsAmerican Express Membership RewardsCapital One miles and Citi ThankYou Rewards to Singapore Airlines.

I had a large sum of American Express Membership Rewards points saved up from both my Platinum Card® from American Express and my American Express® Gold Card. By transferring those points, I had more than enough to cover the 198,000 KrisFlyer miles needed for both my husband and me.

Currently, the Amex Platinum — a card we consider one of the best for luxury travel perks — is offering a welcome bonus of 100,000 bonus points after spending $6,000 in the first six months after opening the account. That welcome bonus offer alone is big enough to get a one-way business-class ticket from New York to Singapore.

Meanwhile, the Amex Gold card is currently offering new card members 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first six months after opening the account. If you’re able to secure the welcome bonus offers from both the Amex Platinum and the Amex Gold, you’ll be within reach of a one-way trip to Singapore in business class for you and your new spouse.

Learn more about The Platinum Card from American Express.
Learn more about the American Express Gold Card.

Keep in mind that points don’t always transfer instantly to Singapore Airlines — it can take up to 48 hours in some cases. So you’ll want to plan ahead if you’re thinking of transferring points into your Singapore account.

How we saved nearly $5,400 flying from Thailand to New York in business class

To get back to New York, we flew in Etihad Airways' business class.

After spending a couple of weeks in Southeast Asia, it was (unfortunately) time for us to head back to New York. We wrapped up our honeymoon in Thailand, so when booking, we looked at options for traveling from Bangkok (BKK) back to New York (JFK). And, we were able to find another steal of a deal using travel rewards.

Etihad Airways flies this route with a stop in Abu Dhabi (AUH) on the way. The airline charges around $3,000 per person for a one-way business-class seat — in fact, on our travel date, the airline was charging $2,776 per person, which would have come to a total of $5,552 for both of us. Again, this simply would have been out of our budget.

Instead, we were able to find business-class award availability, and because Etihad Airways is partners with Air Canada, we were able to redeem Air Canada Aeroplan points to bring this flight down to a fraction of the cost. Specifically, we redeemed 85,000 Aeroplan points per person — 170,000 points in total — and paid about $162 in taxes and fees between the two of us. In other words, we got this $5,552 business-class itinerary for just $162 out of pocket.

You can book Etihad business class from Bangkok to New York for 85,000 miles one way with Air Canada.

Just like Singapore KrisFlyer miles, it’s also incredibly easy to acquire Air Canada Aeroplan miles — even if you never step foot on an Air Canada plane. That’s because the Aeroplan program is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards and Capital One miles. In other words, you can transfer points from any of those three programs to Aeroplan and redeem for flights with Air Canada — or any of its partners, such as Etihad or dozens of others.

I used a combination of American Express Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points to redeem for this 170,000-point flight. You can easily get a chunk of points towards this redemption with the current sign-up bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The current bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on the card within the first three months is 25,000 points short of enough to redeem for this one-way business-class jaunt from Asia to North America for one person. When you consider, too, that the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a solid investment well beyond its sign-up bonus — we even consider it to be the best travel credit card for beginners — picking up the card in addition to all those bonus points is a no-brainer.

If you pair the 60,000 points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred with the 100,000 bonus points earned from the welcome offer on the Amex Platinum and transfer both to Air Canada Aeroplan, you’ll have nearly enough points for the same redemption we made — once you take into consideration the points earned from the minimum spend requirement on each card.

Dinner on our Etihad business-class flight.

Ultimately, using travel rewards helped my husband and me to afford supreme luxury in the sky on our honeymoon — something that would have otherwise been unachievable. By rethinking our credit card strategy and putting the right travel credit cards in our wallets, we were able to afford two magnificent flying experiences for just $173 out of pocket. Instead, we were able to spend our honeymoon budget on terrific hotels and delicious food throughout our two-week trip — what could be better than that?

Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Looking for a travel credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best travel credit cards of 2022.

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