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Planning a wedding is no walk in the park. You want everything to be perfect for your special day, and that requires a lot of planning. Not to mention a hefty sum of money.
According to The Knot, the average wedding cost $33,900 in 2019. And that doesn’t even include the honeymoon. No wonder bridezillas are a thing.
Don’t worry, though, your costs might not even come close to that amount. Especially if you use some savvy financial strategies — one of which I’m going to share with you today.
For me, wedding planning has been a learning experience. I went into it with an organized approach and planned everything around a budget (though the coronavirus had other plans). Luckily, we were able to stay on budget despite postponing thanks to the plan we had in place. We used our joint high-yield savings account to save for the wedding, and credit cards to pay for specific costs that came up. Then, we would promptly pay off those credit cards with the money in our savings account.
Could I have just used our cash savings for purchases and skipped the credit cards? Yes, but then I would have missed out on a very valuable and money-saving credit card perk, which you’ll learn more about below.
Here’s how credit cards helped me turn my wedding expenses into credit card points, and why you should consider doing the same.
There’s no doubt about it, weddings are a major expense. But the nice thing about the cost of a wedding is that it’s actually a series of small purchases that make up the overall expense.
That’s why you can take advantage of using rewards credit cards. For our wedding, we put a lot of expenses on credit cards, including my wedding dress, both rings, our photographer deposit and many miscellaneous purchases from decorations to stamps.
We did this for two reasons and to support one overarching goal: Earn rewards, avoid paying interest on purchases, and ultimately save money.
First, I opened a travel rewards credit card with the goal of earning a sign-up bonus. A credit card sign-up bonus typically requires a new cardholder to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars within a few months after opening the account. When you spend the required amount, you can earn thousands of rewards points that you can then use for flights, hotel stays, or even cash back if you choose.
I opened the Chase Sapphire Preferred because I felt I could achieve the minimum spend required to reach the sign-up bonus. It also has a reasonable annual fee and perks that aligned with my lifestyle. At the time I signed up, the bonus was 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points which is worth $750 when redeemed for travel.
My husband-to-be followed suit. This allowed us to take our credit card strategy a step further as we employed the popular two-player mode, which means we both opened new credit cards (as we had plenty of wedding expenses to charge on them) and earned two sign-up bonuses.
And how valuable those sign-up bonuses were. The rewards we earned completely covered our round-trip flights for our honeymoon to Bali. Flights to Bali from the U.S. aren’t generally cheap, so that was a big expense we didn’t have to worry about and it took a major chunk out of our overall wedding costs.
Once I understood the benefits of utilizing credit cards, I decided to open another. My next card was the Chase Freedom Unlimited. It offered 0% interest on purchases for more than a year, which gave us some room to breathe in case we went over budget or wanted to make purchases upfront that we could pay back later as our savings grew.
Plus, I earn cash back on all my purchases with the Chase Freedom Unlimited. No matter where or when I spend, I am earning some rewards in return. And because I hold the Sapphire Preferred card from Chase as well, I’m in a unique position to transfer my cash back into travel rewards and get even more value.
Although my experience with credit cards while wedding planning has solely been with Chase credit cards, that doesn’t mean they’re your only option.
The best credit card for a wedding depends on what you’re looking for. You might want to earn points for a free honeymoon trip with a travel credit card, as we did. Or you might want to lower your costs with a cashback credit card that offers 0% interest on purchases.
Here are some credit cards to consider using while wedding planning:
Using credit cards while wedding planning made a lot of sense for me, and it could for you and other future brides-to-be as well. But keep in mind, it won’t always save you money to use a credit card for everything wedding-related.
I found that some merchants or vendors might charge processing fees if I used a credit card to pay them. These fees can take away from or even exceed the value of the points you’d be earning. So make sure you ask about any fees beforehand to see whether it’s worth it to use a credit card or if you’d be better off paying cash.
You also need to be diligent about paying off your credit card balance in full every month. Paying interest on your purchases, incurring late fees, or racking up credit card debt will outweigh the benefits of any rewards. The only exception to this is with a 0% APR card, but after the no-interest promotion expires, you will be subject to the regular variable APR on your remaining balance and any future purchases. So you’ll want to have your balance completely paid off by the end of that intro period.
At the end of the day, credit cards are just another tool you can use to make sure your wedding is fantastic. If they can save you some money or reduce your stress somewhat, then it’s worth it. I know we’ll be happy we used rewards credit cards when we’re relaxing in Bali.
Aly Russo is the senior outreach specialist at FinanceBuzz, a personal finance site on a mission to democratize financial independence. FinanceBuzz empowers its readers by teaching them how to utilize credit card rewards, boost income with side hustles, and more. Aly leads the press efforts on a small but mighty team.