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Major milestone events like honeymoons and ’round’ birthdays are a perfect opportunity to use miles and points. You’ll usually have plenty of time to plan them, which helps enormously with both earning points and availability for redeeming them.

In terms of a timeline to go from nothing to five-star with miles and points, 18-24 months in advance of your honeymoon is a great time to start planning the trip. Even if you don’t have a single point to your name right now, if you’ve got time up your sleeve, here are some tips for that (truly) once in a lifetime travel opportunity.

Westin Maldives. (Photo courtesy of the resort)

18-24 Months in Advance

You don’t have to pick your dates right now, but it’s a good time to at least pick a destination and then work out how many points you’ll need to earn in order to redeem. The amount depends on where you want to go and how comfortable you want to be both flying there and staying there. You can have a look at your preferred airline to fly there and determine how many points you’ll need based on the preferred class of service. You can do the same for hotels at your destination bookable with points.

Your required ‘points budget’ could be anything from a (low) five figure points balance for say a European trip with Airbnb stays, through to potentially a seven-figure points balance if you’re wanting first class flights and an exotic location like the Maldives, Seychelles or French Polynesia. You’ll need to be realistic about how many points and miles you can earn in the next 6-12 months, as that’s when you’ll to redeem them. If you’re only earning points through credit card spend, it’s unlikely you’ll have hundreds of thousands of points between now and your honeymoon if you’re not putting huge amounts of spend through the cards every single month.

Once you have your points budget, it’s time to work out how to get there. One way to boost your balance is to consider applying for a credit or charge card that comes with a generous sign-up bonus. You may wish to either add your fiancé as a supplementary cardholder, or they could apply for their own card for the chance for both of you to receive the sign-up bonus. You can try and estimate how much you will spend on your card over the next 6-12 months to see how quickly you will reach your points goal.

Related: The Beginner’s Guide for The Points Guy UK: Essential Tips for Maximising Your Travel

For example, if your card or card earns 1 point per £1 spent and you manage to put £5,000 per month on the card (perhaps some of the wedding expenses!), in a year’s time you will have earned 60,000 points.

Related: The Best UK Miles and Points Credit Cards of 2019

Consider other ways to also boost your points balance like e-stores — especially if you are purchasing lots of things for your big day. You may find your points add up very quickly.

Related: Should Your Partner Get a Supplementary Card or Their Own Card?

Afternoon tea in British Airways First Class. (Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)

12 Months in Advance

If you have enough points for your flights and your dates and destination are picked, now is a good time to book your flights with points and miles. Different airlines release their award seats at different times, starting from 12 months in advance (like British Airways) with many other airlines releasing these seats 11 months in advance. If you’re looking for premium cabin redemptions to popular destinations, the earlier you can book, the better. Business class award seats on direct flights to the likes of the Seychelles may all be booked within hours rather than weeks of being released.

You can use a programme like Expert Flyer to monitor availability for you.

If you also have enough points to redeem hotel rooms for your honeymoon, it’s also a good idea to book them sooner rather than later, as some properties will book out. But depending on your destination it’s probably more important to book the flights than hotel if you only have enough points for one or the other right now.

6 Months in Advance

If you haven’t booked your hotel with points yet and now have earned the points to do so, now is a good time.

North Island Resort, Seychelles (Image courtesy of the resort)
North Island Resort, Seychelles (Photo courtesy of the resort)

1 Week in Advance

If you are taking your honeymoon straight after your wedding, it’s likely during this week that points will be the last thing on your mind. But if you have increased your points balance since booking your flights or hotels and were hoping to upgrade to a better class of service on the flight or a better hotel room at the same property, you may want to check if there is any last-minute availability, as some airlines and hotels may release this.

After all, who wouldn’t choose first class for their honeymoon if they had the points to do so.

Featured image by Zach Honig / The Points Guy

Know before you go.

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