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A wedding is a joyous, yet expensive, occasion. And with so much money being spent, credit card users are wise to look for any possible method to maximize their credit card rewards. Thankfully, there are several ways that couples can leverage their spending to earn considerable rewards points, miles and cash back on their big day.

When to Use a Credit Card

When paying for wedding expenses, it is best to use a credit card only as a method of payment, not a means of finance. As unsecured debt, credit card interest rates are very high, and couples would be far better off hosting a celebration within their means rather than beginning their lives together under a cloud of new debt. Also, any rewards earned from a credit card will be dwarfed by just a month or two of interest payments, so earning rewards makes little sense when cardholders carry a balance.

Earning Points & Miles at Hotels

Hotels are popular venue for ceremonies and receptions, and credit cards make it very easy to earn valuable rewards. Nearly every major hotel chain offers a co-branded credit card that offers bonus rewards for charges at member properties. Typically, these bonuses are not just limited to room reservations, but will apply to any charges including facilities, dining and catering.

For example, the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express features double points for all expenses charged at Starwood properties, which include Westin, Sheraton and several other brands. In addition, members of the SPG program receive another two points per dollar spent, and three points for Gold and Platinum members. Therefore, couples can receive as many as five points per dollar spent on their wedding ceremony, reception, or a night in a honeymoon suite. SPG points can then be redeemed for free stays, or transferred to airline miles with more than 30 different carriers. There is a $65 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year.

Even if a wedding is being held at a hotel that is not part of a major chain, some cards offer bonus rewards for spending at any hotel. The Chase Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards earn double Ultimate Rewards points for all charges at hotels, and these points can be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise and cash back or transferred to the reward programs of several different airlines and hotels. There is a $95 annual fee for these cards that is waived the first year.

Another way to earn rewards at a hotel is through event planner benefit programs. Many hotels offer special perks to those who plan large gatherings, including weddings. For instance Hilton hotels offers an Event Planner Bonus Program that allows guests to “Earn HHonors Bonus Points with meetings, conferences, weddings, family reunions and other special occasions at Hilton Worldwide hotels in the US and Canada.” These programs allow couples to earn points and miles for hotel rooms booked by their friends and family, even when the guest is paying for it.

Bonus Rewards for Rehearsal Dinners

Another large expense that couples normally incur is for a rehearsal dinner, typically held at a local restaurant. Here too, the right credit card can earn additional rewards at restaurants. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card features double points for all dining expenses. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year. There are other credit cards for food rewards too.

Extra Rewards for Wedding Registries

Most couples will have wedding registry to indicate their preferences and help avoid duplication. Fortunately, some credit cards offer benefits for purchases off of the registry. The Williams-Sonoma Visa Signature Card from Barclays Bank allows cardholders to earn Bridal Registry Points. According to this card’s terms and conditions, “Three (3) points will be awarded per every one dollar ($1) spent on items purchased from the Cardmember’s bridal registry.” Points are worth one cent each toward $25 gift cards at Williams-Sonoma stores or online. There is no annual fee for this card.

Receiving Points and Miles for Your Honeymoon

Just like any travelers, newlyweds can earn valuable points and miles on their honeymoon. For example, a couple who spends $4,000 on two tickets to Europe will earn miles from the journey, as well as double miles from putting the expense on most airline credit cards. Taken together, the miles earned will likely be enough for at least one round-trip domestic award ticket.

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At publishing time, the Starwood Preferred GuestChase Sapphire Preferred and Williams-Sonoma Visa Signature cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

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