Let’s be honest: how to cover the cost of weddings has always been a point of stress for couples. But with the abundance of financing options available (and desire for more quaint celebrations), your dream wedding may be more attainable than you think.
According to Zola's First Look Report, in 2022 ⅓ of couples are covering all of their wedding costs on their own, and another 41% of couples are paying in part. That means for a good chunk of couples, paying for the wedding up-front and in full is out of the question. In come alternatives such as unsecured personal loans and juggling credit card rewards. When it comes to credit cards, however, it’s important to know the rules of the game before you play. So what are the pros?
Not all credit cards are created equal. Chase Freedom Unlimited, Capital One’s Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card, and the Cash Magnet Card from American Express are just a few options that tout zero percent intro APR, meaning you can borrow money at no cost for a fixed period. With the average credit card APR landing between 16 and 20 percent, it’s easy to see the benefits of this type of promotional deal.
However with intro APR, it’s important to remember that there’s an expiration date. What started as a good deal could quickly become a financial nightmare when your too-good-to-be-true APR shifts to 23 percent seemingly overnight. For this reason, it’s extremely important to see how long the limited-time offer lasts before you commit.
For items with a hefty price tag, such as wedding rings and attire, having purchase protection can provide some extra peace of mind. Some cards even offer refunds on specific items if prices drop. Just make sure you read the fine print and know what’s covered in your credit card’s purchase protection plan.
The beauty of credit cards is that each comes with its own set of perks. Sign-on bonuses, travel rewards, and cash back on purchases are a few of the most common. If you’re having a rehearsal dinner or bridal shower at a restaurant, for example, you may want to choose a card that gives you hefty bonus points on dining purchases. If you’re planning an epic honeymoon abroad, however, you might want to find a card with generous travel rewards. Just make sure whatever card you choose best suits your personal needs.
Note that we say “can” save you money (not “will”), because optimizing credit cards can be a risky business…which brings us to the cons:
When you’re already in the midst of planning a monumental celebration, the idea of carefully tracking your spending and weighing potential risks might not be how you want to spend your time. However, strategic planning is a necessity in order to take full advantage of perks while keeping yourself out of serious potential debt. After all, if you’re paying more in interest than what you’re earning back in rewards, it’s not worth it. We recommend consulting with a financial expert or someone else you trust before making any big decisions.
If you’re using credit cards as a temporary fix, you might want to reconsider. Canceling zero-balance cards can hurt your credit, as can consolidating your balances onto a single card. This is something especially important to think about if you’re lured in by a zero percent APR intro rate that jumps to 15 percent after only a year.
In addition to cancellations and transfers, having a high credit card balance can also negatively affect your score. Most banks recommend maintaining a credit utilization ratio of 30 percent or lower to make sure you’re not overspending and keep you out of trouble with lenders down the road.
This is particularly relevant if you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with credit cards (or has mismanaged cards in the past). We recommend having an automatic monthly payment schedule and regularly reevaluating your finances to keep from getting in over your head. It’s also crucial that you have these discussions with your partner to make sure you’re on the same page when planning for the future.
Before you decide on which cards (if any) are right for you, it’s important to consider:
In summary, each couple’s financial situation is as unique as their wedding. Big financial decisions, such as choosing and optimizing credit cards, is deeply personal and requires lots of conversations with your partner. It’s extremely important to evaluate your risk and make sure your decisions align with what you as a couple want for the future. This level of careful planning and thoughtful decision-making is key in making sure your wedding is well worth the cost.