This might sound like the worst idea, but sometimes putting some wedding costs on a credit card can actually make good financial sense. You just need to be careful with how you use it.
Most people think of credit cards as a slippery slope when it comes to big purchases, with interest rates and fees adding up to put you in debt. The problem is, most people don't realize that if they pay the balance of their credit card off every month on time, they won't be hit with those interest rates or fees.
This works perfectly for wedding spending. If you already have the money to pay for the wedding, using a credit card for the rewards can have huge benefits if you plan to pay off the balance right away. Here are three ways to use credit cards to help pay for your wedding.
Get Cash Back Rewards to Help Pay for the Wedding
If you need some help paying for the wedding, a cash back credit card can be a huge benefit. These credit cards will give you cash back for every dollar you spend and, in some cases, up to five percent cash back, depending on what you use the credit card to buy. Some credit cards offer higher rewards for spending on grocery stores or gas, while others will give you more rewards for shopping online. Regardless, you will at least be getting cash back for every dollar you spend.
The key to making the most cash back from your purchases is knowing your rewards. Pick a card that will give you the most cash back for what you will be buying. While most credit cards won't give you extra cash back for charging your catering or DJ, some cards will give extra cash back on department store purchases (for rehearsal clothing or wedding party gifts) or online purchases (for invitations or party favors). Some store-branded credit cards, like the William Sonoma card, even offer great cash back rewards on your registry. Do some research and find the credit card that will work best for your wedding.
Get Travel Rewards for Your Honeymoon
If you have big plans for your honeymoon, using a travel rewards credit card to charge some of your wedding costs can pay off. The best travel credit cards will offer 2x the points for every dollar you spend, like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Plus Elite MasterCard. Putting a large balance on your credit card from your wedding costs can rack up a huge amount of points, which can translate into possible free flights or free hotel stays for your honeymoon.
If you already know your honeymoon plans, you can also apply for a loyalty credit card like a United Airlines card or a Starwood hotels card. These usually offer more points for buying flights and hotel stays within the brand. The only problem with these cards is there are usually restrictions when it comes to using your points, where general travel cards like the Barclaycard allow you to use your points to pay for any travel expenses already on your card, which means no black-out dates or restrictions. As with the cash back cards, you should make sure that you are able to pay off the balance immediately, otherwise the fees and interest that you might accumulate could outweigh the benefits of the rewards.
Get a 0% Intro APR Card to Pay for the Wedding Later
Not sure you can afford your dream wedding now? If you plan on postponing paying for part of your wedding, getting a 0% intro APR credit card might be a good idea. A 0% intro APR basically translates to no interest charged on your balance for a period of time. These credit cards let you pay for a big balance without generating interest for up to a year and a half. As long as you are paying off the minimum balance each month, you won't be charged interest for as long as the 0% intro APR period is in effect. Discover it card now offers a 0% intro APR for 14 months, so that might be a good card to consider.
If you've already put a lot of your wedding costs on a current credit card, you can also apply for a balance transfer credit card with a lengthy 0% intro APR so you can stop paying interest on those wedding costs. If you are going to transfer a balance, the same Discover card also offers a different version of their it card that gives you a 0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers. Just keep in mind that most balance transfer credit cards charge a balance transfer fee, which is based on how much money you are transferring. As long as the balance transfer fee is less than the interest you would accrue by not transferring, a balance transfer is still a good idea.
The most important tip cited by many wedding experts is to create a budget plan before you purchase anything -- and stick to it. Wedding experts Susan Southerland and Samantha Goldberg agreed that couples need to sit down and figure out exactly what their wedding "must-haves" are and how much they want to spend. "If they don't have a level head and they haven't started thinking, 'Here's what I can spend without getting into trouble,' they wind up going with their heart and not sticking to it," Southerland said. And, if you follow your budget, you shouldn't have any problems with overspending. "If they have a blueprint, there won't be a reason to feel like they're going to go over, because they've been on this plan the entire time," Goldberg said (download her wedding budget tracker here).
By cutting the guest list, you can save exponentially on things like flowers, tables, and square footage, said wedding planner Marcy Blum. You'll have a better event if you invite fewer guests, rather than eliminating services like an open bar and proper facilities. "It would be much better to cut the guest list than cut the wait staff. There's no point in doing something halfway," Blum said.
Money-saving expert Kendal Perez offered this little-known tip: buy used gift cards from stores you'd like to purchase wedding items from at GiftCardGranny.com. When shoppers receive a gift card to a store they don't like, they can sell the card on GiftCardGranny.com for less than face value -- meaning you can buy the card and save up to 30 percent. For example, there are cards available from 1-800 Flowers, Tiffany, and wedding dress retailers like J. Crew. "It’s a different way to save money without having to shop sales, but if you can couple that with something on sale then you’re getting even more savings," Perez said.
Matthew Robbins, author of "Matthew Robinns' Inspired Weddings," cautioned couples against renting too many fancy items, and instead recommended mixing in just a few special pieces with items already included in your venue. For example, rent a unique water or champagne glass to add something special to the table, or use a simple cloth from the venue for the tables and rent a beautiful overlay or runner to dress things up. "Choose wisely and consider rental items as a special accent to embellish what your venue provides," Robbins said.
Holidays are more expensive, plain and simple, said wedding planner Yifat Oren. "You might think it's easier for people to get time off work, but they'll be spending more money all around on travel and accommodations, not to mention the challenges with availability during high season times," she said.
Sign up for all your potential vendors' email lists and follow them on social media in order to get the first scoop on deals, contests, and freebies, said Sharon Naylor, wedding expert and author of "The Bride's Guide To Freebies." You'll hear about clearance sales, "Pin It To Win It" contests on Pinterest, trunk shows and more deals you wouldn't have known about otherwise. "If you’re following them and keeping a good eye on them, you can cash in on some great stuff," Naylor said.
Don't feel like you need to spend money on things you don't really need but feel like you have to have, said money-saving expert Kendal Perez. Skip wedding traditions that seem necessary, like programs and favors. "I don’t think I've ever kept a wedding favor. Those things are unnecessary expenses," Perez said. "Make sure you're planning the party you want and you're not including things just because everyone includes them."
Vendors will sometimes give discounts to clients they enjoyed working with and, if you ask, may agree to give you freebies or substitutions, said wedding expert Sharon Naylor. But don't forget to be nice! "You cannot be a steamroller and you can't demand it and you can't say, 'Well, I heard you gave my friend a free [food] station so what am I going to get?'" Naylor said. "When vendors don't like you you're not going to get as many freebies."
There's no rule that you must have a pricey dinner or cocktail hour for all of your guests, said wedding planner Xochtil Gonzalez. As long as you give guests something to eat and drink, that constitutes a party. Hire a food truck or consider holding a brunch on a Sunday afternoon. "If you know you have a fun crowd that’s going to dance no matter what if the music’s good and they’ve had a couple drinks, there’s no reason to force yourself to just have a nighttime party," Gonzalez said.
Instead of registering for kitchen supplies you don't really need, wedding planner Samantha Goldberg said you can actually register for wedding items such as a videographer or upgraded room on your honeymoon. Many vendors will make cards you can put in your invitations explaining your request to your guests. "You'd be surprised -- everyone pitches in here and there and suddenly you now have this money to have something you thought you wanted but weren't able to afford," Goldberg said.
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