A babymoon’s expenses can add up quickly right at a time when your budget is getting tighter. Credit card rewards and loyalty programs can help you save.
Preparing for a new baby’s arrival is exciting and also a little stressful as you go down the list of things you need to do and buy.
Scheduling a babymoon trip is a way to relax a little before the birth, but only if it works for your budget. These money-saving tips can help make your pre-baby getaway more affordable.
See related: How to save on new baby expenses
5 ways to save on your babymoon
Find travel destination deals
When planning your trip, the expenses you have to account for are the same as any other vacation. Hotels, flights, rental cars, food – it all adds up.
Ben Watson, CPA and personal finance expert at DollarSprout, recently took a babymoon and says airfare and hotels alone can account for 30 percent to 50 percent of your travel budget.
His best tips for saving on those costs including checking for last-minute deals, planning your trip for the offseason and swapping a hotel stay for a booking with Airbnb.You might also consider going all-inclusive if you can find a packaged deal for less than what it would cost you to pay for airfare, hotels and meals individually.
“If you want to travel to a tropical location, Groupon and Living Social typically have great prices on all-inclusive resorts,” says Steffa Mantilla, owner of personal finance blog Plantsonify.
When booking all-inclusive resorts or vacation packages, check what’s included in the price and what amenities are on tap at the resort. Watch out for resort fees, which could add to the cost.
See related: Best cards for Airbnb
Take advantage of freebies
A simple way to save money on a babymoon is getting things free. For example, it’s possible to take a big bite out of your food budget by eating at the hotel.
“When booking a hotel, look for one with breakfast included,” says Rebecca Gramuglia, personal finance expert at TopCashback.com. “This small perk could save you $12 to $15 per person each day.”
Some hotels also offer complimentary dinner or lounge access with free drinks and appetizers. The catch is that you may need to join the hotel’s loyalty program to benefit.
The upside is that hotel loyalty programs are typically free to join and may allow you to unlock other free perks, such as spa access or complimentary room upgrades.
Once you venture out of the hotel, consider what you can do for free or almost free locally, says Gramuglia.
“From free movie screenings to street fairs, hit the street and get lost in a city or town,” she says. “It’s amazing what you’ll discover around every corner.”
Reap savings with a travel rewards card
Your best tool for saving on babymoon expenses may already be in your wallet. A travel rewards credit card can help you unlock savings on several levels.
The first step is deciding how to book. That could mean using your card’s travel portal, booking directly with airlines or using a third-party travel site.
“By booking through your rewards credit card portal, you can often get airfare, hotels, car rentals and excursions for cheaper than purchasing them by themselves,” says Watson.
Portals can also make travel bookings more rewarding. When you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, for example, you get 25 percent more in travel redemption value. You also have the option of transferring Ultimate Rewards points to partner travel brands on a 1:1 basis.
If your card doesn’t offer a travel portal, consider whether you can book directly and transfer your points or miles to cover airfare and hotels.
“Generally, if you’re able to convert your credit card points into air miles for an airline’s frequent flyer program, you’ll get the best value for them,” says Gramuglia.
Turning credit card points or miles into airline miles could yield another advantage if you’re able to upgrade your seat. If you have any of the Delta SkyMiles credit cards issued by American Express, you may be able to upgrade your fare at booking when you book with miles or a combination of miles and cash.
“To get the most value, keep your eyes peeled for occasions when the card’s partner airline offers additional bonuses,” says Gramuglia. “You may be able to swap the air miles with the airline for free or cut-price airfares.”
Booking with a third-party travel site can help you unlock deals. Just check your card’s merchant codes to make sure discount sites count as travel for earning rewards.
Note that booking through a third-party site means you may not earn rewards points through your hotel loyalty program. You could, however, earn points through the site’s loyalty program. Hotels.com, for instance, allows you to earn Rewards Nights for booking through the site that can be redeemed for free nights.
Go beyond the booking to save
Also consider whether your travel card offers money-saving extras that could make your trip more comfortable. For example, a card that offers complimentary lounge access such as The Platinum Card® from American Express could offer parents-to-be a place to rest and recharge between flights.
Depending on the timing, you may opt to open a brand-new travel rewards card to accrue some miles or points quickly.
“Some of the best deals on travel points are earned with the introductory sign-up offer,” says Mantilla. “Typically, you can get 50,000 to 100,000 travel rewards points or miles when you meet the minimum spending requirement.”
Mantilla says an easy way to double the points is for both you and your spouse or partner to each open a credit card and reach the minimum spend. You could then transfer all the rewards to one card and use them to book, if your card allows it.
If you’re considering this option, plan early. Give yourself a few months in advance of your babymoon travel dates to hit the spending limit required to earn a bonus.
See related: How couples can double up on card rewards
Cash in on cash back
Travel rewards cards can go a long way in saving money on a babymoon, but don’t overlook the possibilities of cash back cards. You could use your card to earn rewards on purchases that don’t typically land in travel bonus categories, such as gas for your rental car, snacks from the grocery or convenience store or souvenirs.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card, for example, offers at least 1.5 percent back on every purchase. If you’re looking for tiered cash back rewards, you might consider the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card or the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.
Both offer introductory cash bonuses along with generous cash back rewards rates on everyday spending. Bank of America Preferred Rewards members can also get between 25 percent to 75 percent more cash back on every purchase with their card.
Earn even more cash back for a babymoon by pairing your rewards card with cash back apps and portals. Sites like TopCashback and Rakuten (formerly Ebates) make it easy it to browse for deals online and stack additional cash back beyond what you’re earning with your rewards card.
Rakuten, for instance, offers up to 5 percent cash back when you book through Travelocity, while TopCashback offers up to 10 percent back at Expedia.com. You can also find cash back deals on luggage, cameras and clothing, all things you might need to buy as you plan your trip.
Just remember to keep tracking of what you’re spending.
“It’s highly recommended that you create a budget or a spending plan for your vacation so your fun doesn’t follow you home,” says Watson. “Having a baby is going to be expensive enough without additional debt.”