Spring wedding season is here. Why register for china when you can register for a trip to China?
These days, travel lovers can register for flights, hotels and far-flung experiences from brands including United Airlines, Hyatt and Carnival Cruise Lines.
Guests can benefit, too. If they pay with a reward credit card that earns double points for travel purchases (such as Chase Sapphire Preferred), or if they buy a gift card through an airline shopping portal that doles out points for what they spend (like American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping), they can use your wedding gift to get closer to their own getaway.
Here are some of the latest possibilities.
United Airlines is one of the few U.S. carriers that allow members to tie their frequent flier accounts to a registry. Couples can include a desired destination if they want to make the registry more personal and can use United’s email tool to let guests know they’re registered there. Alternatively, couples can just provide guests with a link to the United gift registry. Gifts toward air travel purchases can be made online anywhere from $25 up to $10,000.
Outside the formal registry model, many airlines offer gift cards and certificates, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines. All you have to do is provide guests with the link to the gift card landing page, and then in most cases they can just send you a digital or physical card. If you’re creating a wedding website, simply add the link to the gift card page there.
A number of major U.S. hotel and resort brands – Disney Parks and Resorts, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Hilton, Starwood Hotels, Sandals Resorts, Atlantis – outsource their registry services to the same company, HoneymoonWishes.com, based in California.
There are typically two types of gifts couples can receive through this service: a “trip contribution,” which are funds that are transferred to the recipients by check or bank transfer, or a “resort credit,” which is applied to the couple’s hotel account and can be used for anything that can be billed to a room while at the resort. Check your preferred chain’s registry site for specifics though, because the options vary.
Like other travel registry companies, HoneymoonWishes.com charges “service and handling” fees, which it says include account management and toll-free customer service for guests. These fees are charged to the guest buying a gift, the couple, or both. HoneymoonWishes.com fees are among the highest. In general, purchasers on a registry powered by HoneymoonWishes.com (read: your guests) are charged a service and handling fee at checkout of either 7 or 9.65 percent, depending on how you split the fees. You can read about how to distribute the fees between the guests and the couple on individual hotel registry sites. Wedding couples who wish to avoid fees altogether should skip these sorts of sites.
Hyatt Hotels has partnered with TheHoneymoon.com on its registry, which charges service fees based on the cost of the gift (higher purchases have lower service fees). Couples can request gifts toward a honeymoon stay or spa services and do so in small, separate increments (for example, asking for six gifts of $50 toward a $300 a night room instead of asking for one $300 gift). Hyatt then sends the couple a gift card or check certificate (there’s no expiration date) with all the funds.
For Marriott loyalists, instead of a registry the company offers gift cards from $25 to $2,000, including a “Happily Ever After” design with rings that says “best wishes.” Those who want Ritz-Carlton gift cards can find them at Ritzcarltongiftcards.com.
Cruises, cars and trains
Like many hotels, cruise companies, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises, also use HoneymoonWishes.com to power their registry sites. The handling fee is typically 7 percent at checkout plus a 2.65 percent credit card processing charge. Other cruise lines offer gift cards, and there are no fees to purchase them. For instance, Norwegian Cruise Line offers gift cards that can be used toward the purchase of a cruise or experiences on board and on shore. The minimum amount is $25; the maximum is $1,000.
Railroad buffs may be interested in Amtrak gift certificates, which are available from $50 to $1,000 and can be purchased online. Just note that they can be redeemed only at staffed Amtrak station ticket offices. Amtrak also charges an additional $5 handling fee for each certificate.
And for newlyweds who want to hit the open road, the car-sharing company Zipcar sells “zipcertificates,” to pay for a Zipcar membership or driving costs.
Online booking sites
If you don’t want to be wedded to a particular hotel chain or airline, consider a site such as Hotels.com, which allows people to buy gift cards from $10 to $2,000 with no fees or expiration date. The couple can redeem the cards from over 150,000 hotels worldwide.
Viator, which offers all kinds of tours and travel experiences around the world, also has gift certificates, though in most places they expire after two years.
Ski and snow lovers may want to check out Liftopia.com, which sells gift certificates for lift tickets and passes.
And don’t forget that many museums, such as MoMA in New York City, allow for gift memberships.
Wedding couples can also register for noise-canceling headphones, iPods, chargers and other travel gadgets at places like Bose.com, Apple.com and Brookstone.com. Need gear for a big trip? There’s Camping World, Eastern Mountain Sports and Canon. A site such as MyRegistry.com allows couples to create a single free registry, yet register for items across multiple websites including beach and honeymoon items at Havaianas, Ray-Ban and Patagonia; and luggage from Bric’s, Tumi and eBags.com. All that’s left to do is pack.