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Marriage

Should You Use a Credit Card to Pay for Wedding Expenses?

You're getting married—congratulations! It's an exciting and hopeful time in your life. It also can be a stressful time, thanks in part to what a modern wedding tends to cost. In 2018, the national average cost of a wedding was $33,931, according to The Knot.

Of course, how much you spend on your wedding will depend on your venue, food, number of guests and plenty of other factors. But unless you're planning simply to get a marriage license from city hall and call it a day, you're likely going to have a decent amount of expenses. So what's the best way to pay for them? You may be considering using a credit card to cover at least some of the cost. Read on to find out when that may be a good—or not so good—idea.

Benefits to Using a Credit Card for Wedding Expenses

Before planning a wedding, you should figure out your budget and, ideally, start saving in advance so you don't have to go into debt for a one-day event. Even if you've saved enough money, though, there are some advantages to using a credit card to pay for wedding expenses you can quickly pay off.

1. 0% Introductory APR Periods

Several credit cards available right now offer lengthy 0% introductory annual percentage rate (APR) periods. That means you can use the card and pay off the balance over a period of time (generally 12 to 18 months) without incurring any interest charges. This can be a lifeline to many couples. After all, it's much easier to pay down $10,000 over a year than to pay it all at once.

There are a number of 0% intro APR cards available in the Experian CreditMatch™ marketplace. You might want to take a look at the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® card, for example, which currently offers a 0% APR for 18 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers with no annual fee.

2. Sign-Up Bonuses

A number of credit cards include hefty sign-up bonuses. Whether the reward is cash or points, to earn it you'll typically have to charge more than a certain dollar amount to the card within the first few months. What better time to get such a card than when you are planning to spend a lot of money on a wedding? It will be easy to meet the minimum spending threshold needed to earn the bonus, and you can even put those points earned toward your honeymoon.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, for example, allows you to earn 60,000 bonus points if you use the card to spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of having it. That's enough for $750 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

3. Consumer Protections

Credit cards offer you consumer protections you won't have when paying with cash or a debit card. All sorts of things can go wrong with wedding vendors, whether a caterer bails or a venue refuses to return a deposit. If you pay for these expenses with a credit card, you at least have some recourse through your issuer.

The Fair Credit Billing Act allows you to file a dispute with your card issuer if a product or service that you purchased was not delivered as agreed. You must file it within 60 days of the date you get the bill.

4. Borrow No More Than You Need

Some people choose to take out a personal loan to cover wedding expenses, but that requires a careful estimation of how much the costs will be. If you're not exactly sure of the amount, you may borrow more than necessary and be stuck with the debt. With a credit card, you charge only what you need.

Disadvantages to Using a Credit Card to Pay for Wedding Expenses

Of course, there are some pitfalls to avoid when using a credit card to pay for your wedding.

1. High Interest Rates

If you don't snag a 0% intro APR offer, you're likely to pay a lot in interest if you don't pay off your expenses right away. After your intro offer ends, the interest rate will jump and any remaining balance will be subject to the card's new interest rate. Pay off the card's balance before the intro APR goes away to avoid paying additional interest.

2. You Could Go Into Debt

It's easy to use a credit card to make big purchases—perhaps a bit too easy. The ease with which you can swipe and sign on the dotted line means it's important to practice self-control and learn how to say no to vendors who may try to upsell you. Credit card debt is no joke, and it can be very difficult to dig yourself out if you're not disciplined.

3. You Could Hurt Your Credit Scores

When you charge a lot on your credit cards, you're typically increasing your credit utilization ratio, which can drag your scores down. Carrying a balance from month to month will do the same. Many people hope to buy a house soon after getting married, so you will want to consider whether dinging your credit scores in the wedding process is worth it.

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