As a savvy online shopper, you know how to spot good deals — and perhaps most importantly, you know when to be skeptical of a good deal when one pops up on a website you've just landed on.
You don't need a business degree to tell you that no company can offer its products or services completely free of charge. Nonprofits aside, companies need to employ staff and, in the case of online honeymoon registries, pay for website costs and service fees, and even nonprofits need to generate enough income to break even. So if you're seeing honeymoon registries advertised as “free,” then you probably know instinctively to ask, “What's the catch?”
And there is most certainly a catch when it comes to free honeymoon registries. Though the platform may offer registries that are free to build and launch, many couples end up paying for those sites one way or another. Some honeymoon registries have so many ads on their pages that they make them virtually unusable. Others hold the gift money hostage, dictating when the couple can use it. In these little ways (and many more), you and your partner might make your lives much harder and your wallets much lighter in you chose a free honeymoon registry over a platform that charges a one-time fee.
You may have seen some honeymoon fund platforms advertise their honeymoon registries as “free,” but, as there so often is in life, there is most certainly a catch — several in fact. Here are seven reasons to pass up any honeymoon registry described as “free.”Reason #1:
The “free” site looks more like an advertisement than a registry
Have you ever landed on an unfamiliar website and clicked back almost immediately because you were overwhelmed by advertisements on the site? Maybe they popped up and demanded you add your email or perhaps you had a difficult time scrolling past large ads that also had an accompanying sound, which you struggled to turn off. All of these ads made it difficult to suss out the information you actually came looking for, and now you've left because why would you trust a site that's overrun with ads?
This is how many allegedly free honeymoon registries force people to sign up instead of using the “free” account. The free accounts have ads everywhere, making it hard to see the content on the page. With so many ads, they look cheap and a little sketchy. For the many wedding guests coming to your registry, the sight of all those ads might make them turn back for fear of risking their bank account number and private information being stolen.
As cybersecurity has become more important than ever, many people are rethinking how they use their credit cards online or distribute other personal pieces of information, such as email address, cellphone numbers and mailing addresses. If your registry looks like a spammer created it, then you will likely be getting a lot of confused calls from relatives — or very few contributions to your honeymoon registry.Reason #2:
You — or your guest — may be charged a fee for each transaction
As mentioned, all honeymoon registry platforms need to make money in order to pay for staff and services, so they need to make money one way or another. Perhaps the easier way to do this is to offer free use of the platform and then charge either the couple or the guest with a fee for each transaction.
This is called a fee-per-transaction setup, and it's not inherently bad so long as you and your partner understand how it works and its potential limitations. These fees affect every gift bought on a honeymoon registry, and the fees can range from 3-7%, sometimes even more. The money then goes to the platform.
Most platforms will offer two choices: You can either ask guests to pay this fee or you can have the platform subtract it from whatever gift amount is given. There are some problems with these approaches.
- If you ask guests to pay this fee, then they may pull back on the amount of money that they would like to give. A 5% charge on a $100 gift is an extra $5, which might not mean much to your older or financially stable family members but it will matter to friends or family members who are still studying at uni, buying a new home or supporting a family. Having guests pay that extra fee may be a burden, one they'd rather skip and get you a gift card instead.
- If you pay this fee, then you might have a difficult time budgeting your honeymoon expenses. All of those fees add up quickly, and suddenly you're down $50 from where you thought you would be — and that can make a major difference when you need to pay off your credit card.
In the end, neither option provides a win for either you or your guest.
Note: Regardless of which platform you chose, you will almost certainly have to pay a credit card fee anytime a guest uses one to buy you a gift. This is both common and unavoidable. Credit card companies charge this, so the money goes straight to those companies and not the platform. Most credit cards fee cap out at about 30 cents. If it's too much more, than the honeymoon registry platform is likely pocketing some of this money. At Hitchd, that fee goes to the credit card companies, and we do not collect a profit.
Your data, and your guests', might be sold or even stolen
You've likely given out your name and email address countless times on the internet and in real life, so much so that you don't think much of it. That is, until you start getting a lot of strange and unsolicited email in your inbox.
This often happens when a company that has your information sells it to other companies — a common tactic used by honeymoon registry platforms that offer their accounts as “free.” Companies with these email address lists will often combine those lists in various ways — using all the information you've given the site such as your email address, your age and your location — and then turn around and sell those lists to companies that want to market their products to you. After all, they know you're either about to or have already gotten married. Now is the perfect time to start bombarding you with emails about everything from realtors to cribs to furniture.
There's also the chance that your information could be stolen from the honeymoon registry platform. Hackers who are looking for email addresses and bank account information might target these platforms because they expect them to have poorer security — and they're often right.
If you're a honeymoon registry platform giving out free accounts, then you may not be taking in such a large amount of money, and while you can not pay your website developer, you might decide to skimp on the security instead. And that puts users at a major risk.Reason #4:
Your guests may feel, at best, awkward and, at worst
Over the last few years, some couples have ditched the honeymoon registry platform altogether and decided to just include their Venmo or PayPal account names on their invitations and save-the-date cards. If you've received one of these invites, then you might have been shocked or put off the first time you saw it, but, most likely if you're young, you understood that the couple really wanted money as a wedding gift.
While you may have been understanding, it is highly unlikely that your grandparents, aunts, uncles and old family friends will feel the same way. You may be used to sending your friends or siblings money for pizza, a cab ride or movie tickets through Venmo, PayPal or CashApp, but it's another thing to expect people to send you money for your wedding through these apps.
Payment apps lack any sort of personal touch, and their platforms do not allow for you to share with guests what their gift will contribute to in the same way a honeymoon fund can. For all your guests know, you could be spending their gift money on next month's rent or a new pair of sandals. That's fine if you receive money from your birthday, but for your wedding, guests want to know their money is going to contribute to the two of you as a couple — not to your wardrobes or a round of beers at your favorite local bar.
Without a formal website, guests are going to feel as if you don't care whether they're at your ceremony, just that they pay you. If you opt to use your Venmo account as a honeymoon fund, then you will likely raise enough money to order pizza and a new set of sheets for your bed.Reason #5:
The platform lacks helpful features
If you've ever looked at the features offered by one of those free honeymoon registries, then you'll notice quickly that the features used to build the sample registries, such as stock photos or customised site addresses are not available with the free account. If you want your registry to look as good as those samples, then get ready to pay.
Here are just some of the features that those free accounts like to lock behind a paywall:
- Stock photos: You may have plenty of photos of the two of you, but if you're honeymooning in Paris, wouldn't you like to use some stock photography of the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame to make your site look better? Without paying, you may be very limited to the types of images available to you.
- Customisable site address: No two couples are ever truly alike, but that doesn't mean their names aren't identical to yours. It's not uncommon for couples on honeymoon registry sites to share names with other couples, but it can be confusing for wedding guests. That's why having a custom site address (think HomerAndMarge.honeymoonfund.com) can make a big difference. Guests won't have to search for your names on the honeymoon fund platform. They can do straight to your site using a custom address — unless this feature is blocked.
- Gift tracking: Will you remember in two months who treated you and your partner to that day at the spa on your honeymoon? Probably not, but your honeymoon fund platform should keep that information ready for you. You don't want to thank people for the wrong gifts, but if this feature is blocked, then you better get good at tracking detailed notes.
- Emailed thank-you notes: Isn't it nice to thank guests as soon as they've given you a wedding present? It's nice being acknowledged right away for your generosity and it shows how excited the couple is to receive the gift. Sites like Hitchd not only keep track of who bought you what, but we'll also send out email thank-you cards, which you can personalise. You'll still have to send out thank-you cards by mail after your big day, but guests will feel better knowing their gift went to the right couple.
Losing one of these cool features might not be the end of the world, but all of them? Now that's a steep price to pay for a free honeymoon registry.Reason #6:
Your money may not be yours until after the wedding day
If you're paying for your own wedding and honeymoon, then your monthly credit card statement probably gets pretty high every month, especially as you finish paying off vendors and charge those last-minute expenses. If that describes you, then being able to access your gift money from your honeymoon registry will be a major benefit.
But what if you can't get to the money?
Some free platforms lock up the money behind a paywall until your big day, which means you won't be able to use that gift money until you've already left for your honeymoon. How helpful is that?
And if you want to get that money early? Well sure, you can — but it'll cost you. It's another way that these allegedly free platforms make money while still advertising their services as “free.” If you don't read the fine print and find out about this key feature after guests have already started contributing, then you may be stuck waiting for your money and unable to ue it when you need it most.Reason #7:
A lifetime of unwanted email offers to you and your guests
Few things are as frustrating as opening up your inbox only to discover that most of the emails you've received came from products or services that you never signed up for or interacted with at any time. Many free honeymoon registries force guests to create accounts with their sites, and with a new account comes all sorts of unsolicited offers and emails. Some platforms will allow you to opt out, but they make the print so small and sometimes confusing to read so it's unclear exactly what you're giving or denying permission to do.
Now that text message communication between companies and clients has been more common, businesses are asking for user phone numbers so they can send text messages about offers and new products. If your honeymoon registry platform has guests put in their phone numbers, then they might find themselves bombarded with text messages, offering all sorts of products and services that they don't want. This is another way these platforms make money, by selling phone numbers, so be wary of “free” sites that ask for your number.
In the end, you and your guests might end up receiving emails from all sorts of odd companies long after your wedding is over. When this happens, it quickly dampens the mood for guests, and it gives them a negative reason to remember your big day.
You can never be too careful with you — or your wedding guests' — personal information and email offers. You don't want to hear from an aunt or uncle months after your big day because they're still getting spam emails and text messages related to that free honeymoon registry you chose.
It's hard to pass up any type of free offer. It's the reason that shopping at big-box stores that offer free samples can be so much fun. But remember that nothing in the wedding industry will ever be truly free. There's always a catch.
When it comes to choosing a honeymoon registry, it's always best to do your research first and decide which platform will fit all of your unique needs. Even if you have to pay a one-time fee, as Hitchd users do, you might end up saving more money in the long run and creating a better user experience for yourself and your guests.
Looking for the #1 way to fund your honeymoon?
Hitchd is a new type of honeymoon registry that helps fund your adventure of a lifetime. Think of us as your very own wishing well, Kickstarter, and travel planner, all rolled into one beautiful experience.