This post is the first in a new Reader Requests series. If you have a specific request for honeymoon planning help, send me an email at email@example.com or leave a note in the comments. I’ll do my best to respond directly and perhaps even create a post like this one, focused on your desired destination.
Eric, a long-time reader, very recently contacted me with a request for help in planning a trip. He and his wife are looking to celebrate their 10-year anniversary with a getaway and would love for it to be a second, albeit short, honeymoon of sorts.
They enjoyed a previous trip to Bermuda and have always wanted to return, so it’s number one on their list for this trip. However, the cost of the island – it’s expensive! – is giving them pause. So Eric has asked me for suggestions on inexpensively getting there from Raleigh, NC, and staying there for three nights.
Making this challenging, they’re looking to take this trip in mid-July, less than three months from today.
First of all, Eric, congratulations on your upcoming milestone anniversary!
Now, as Eric discovered on a previous trip to Bermuda, the island is indeed expensive. Hotel rooms often go for over $300 or even $400 per night. This sometimes contributes to the decision of travelers to cruise to the island instead of flying. However, with a schedule that only allows for three nights of vacationing, flying is more practical for Eric and his wife. However, Bermuda has the world’s highest landing/parking fee for airlines so paying for flights out of pocket can be tough.
Flying to and From Bermuda Without Breaking the Bank
A quick search on Google Flights shows that there are no nonstop flights from RDU (Eric’s home airport) to Bermuda. However, there are flights on US Air (now effectively part of American Airlines) and Delta, with a minimal layover.
Following through to the return flight step, I found an appealing flight – it leaves Bermuda at 3:50PM – which would give Eric and his wife much of that Sunday morning and early afternoon to enjoy the island before heading back to the States.
Now if Eric’s trip was five or more months away I’d consider recommending a credit card which would earn him British Airways Avios or American Airlines miles, as they could be redeemed for these US Airways flights. However, with a short time horizon that is a bit risky. By the time he would receive the card, meet the spending requirement and receive the actual airline miles it may be difficult to find award seat availability. Even if he did it would probably be within 21 days of the trip meaning there would be a “close-in” award travel fee of $75 per ticket.
Because of the short timeline for this second honeymoon, one of the best options for Eric and his wife, is for both of them to acquire a Citi ThankYou® Premier Card card. This is a card that was just relaunched by Citi and because the ThankYou points can be used for any travel they are flexible and Eric won’t be out of luck if there are no award seats available on the flights I’ve identified. On top of that, because the booking process is similar to purchasing the tickets outright, Eric and his wife will actually earn frequent flyer miles for the flights.
If he and his wife each get this card, and quickly meet the minimum spending requirement they can then book the flights of interest with the 50,000 bonus ThankYou points they’ll each receive. The 50,000 ThankYou points are actually worth $625 towards travel so they’ll each have about 4,000 ThankYou points left over if prices remain level. The annual fee is waived for the first year.
To earn the 50,000 bonus points they’ll have to meet a spending requirement of $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening. Though that spend requirement may seem daunting, they can use approaches such as prepaying bills, putting business travel expenses on the cards, buying gift cards to stores they frequent, and/or using the Target Prepaid REDcard (Update: As of May 6th, Target has stopped accepting credit cards to reload prepaid REDcards). I’ve been using the REDcard to use my credit cards to pay my mortgage, utility and student loan bills.
Luxury Lodging on a Budget in Bermuda
Bermuda has some luxurious lodging options but they aren’t cheap (are you sensing a theme here?). They range from fairly large chain hotels down to charming bed and breakfast options.
For a second honeymoon escape from the craziness of daily life in the US, I recommend a quaint, idyllic boutique hotel. The Royal Palms hotel, currently the #1 rated hotel in Bermuda on TripAdvisor, fits the bill here. It is showing at $277/night, before taxes and fees. Since it’s not part of any hotel chain though, using hotel points or free night awards isn’t going to work.
With that in mind, I’m suggesting the bonus offer for another travel credit card that isn’t tied to any specific hotel or airline: the BarclayCard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. As of writing, the signup bonus for this card is 40,000 Arrival miles which effectively equate to $420 of travel credit. To earn that bonus, you must spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening. The annual fee is waived for the first year.
This card differs from the aforementioned Citi ThankYou Premier in that it allows you to pay off travel charges with points, after the purchases have posted, as opposed to using the points to make the purchase.
This is a great complement to the Citi ThankYou Premier because it will allow Eric and his wife to meet the spending requirement for the card close to, or even after their trip, and still earn and use the bonus. They can focus immediately on meeting the spending requirement for the ThankYou Premier and then shift spending to the Arrival Plus. In fact, they’ll actually be able to put the hotel cost onto this card at checkout by booking the hotel via a site like Travelocity, and selecting Pay at Checkout. Most hotels will allow you to split the cost of a stay across two credit cards at checkout. In doing so, Eric and his wife would each put a dent in the spending requirement and then when the 40,000 bonus miles post they can immediately redeem them against the hotel charge, wiping it out almost completely!
With the tips in this post, Eric and his wife should be on their way to a great, though short, second honeymoon to celebrate their 10 year anniversary! The bonus offers I’ve suggested will save them over $2,000, enabling them to enjoy the trip without fretting about having raided their savings account.
The credit card deals will require a decent amount of spending but by using the cards for all purchases, including any business expenses that get reimbursed, prepaying some large bills such as insurance, and buying gift cards for stores/services they’ll use in the future, they’ll be well on their way to meeting the requirements. If they need some extra help they could sign up for a Target Prepaid REDcard and meet the requirements easily by using it to pay for rent or mortgage, student loans, etc. (Update: As of May 6th, Target has stopped accepting credit cards to reload prepaid REDcards).
Eric, I hope you and your wife enjoy the pink sand beaches of Bermuda! Share some pictures once you return!!