Putting thousands of dollars of wedding charges on your credit card can be a frightening prospect, even if you know you don’t have the cash on hand to pay upfront otherwise. The thing is, you could actually stand to gain a lot with calculated use of credit cards when you’re planning your big day. With the right strategy, your wedding expenses could end up paying for a significant portion of the honeymoon. How is this possible?
There’s a lot to be said for not over-extending yourself when it comes to paying for your wedding day, since most couples 1) don’t want to start their life together mired in debt, and 2) have other plans moving forward, like purchasing a home and starting a family. As a result, you may shy away from using credit cards, preferring to set a budget, save up, and draw from existing funds to pay for expenses.
Whether you have money saved up or you’re planning to pay over time for your wedding, you need to craft a favorable strategy for spending that includes credit cards. Ideally, you’ll be able to plan so as to pay off expenditures monthly, but you really do need to factor credit purchases into your planning if you want to get the most bang for your buck, so to speak, by taking advantage of rewards. Here are just a few things you need to know about properly using your credit cards for wedding expenses.
Set a Budget
No matter how you’re planning to pay for your wedding, setting a budget is an essential first step. This can not only help you to save in preparation for wedding expenses, but it can help you to create a time-frame for paying them off if you are keen to move forward even though you don’t have all the cash you need to pay up front.
For example, if you have a credit card that offers 0% APR for the first 12 months, you’ll want to make sure you can plan to pay off all of your expenses in that time frame in order to avoid any accrued interest that could end up significantly increasing costs in the long run. If your calculations show that 12 months isn’t enough time based on your current budget, you’ll either need to seek out a card with longer terms (say, 0% APR for 18 months) or rethink your budget or your wedding date.
Setting a budget is also a great way to set the limit on a credit card. If you open a joint credit account specifically for the wedding, you can simply set the credit limit on the card at the limit of your budget as a way to remain accountable and ensure that you don’t go over-budget when paying for wedding expenses.
Use Your Credit Card for Tracking and Management
One of the best reasons to use credit cards for wedding expenses is so you can keep close track of every related expense. With everything you have to juggle when preparing for a wedding, it’s all too easy for things to slip through the cracks, even if you’re organized. For example, you might not know that many caterers charge for tastings. If you haven’t factored this expense into your budgeted funds for the food category, you could end up overspending without realizing it.
When you put all of your wedding expenses on one account, you can easily track what you’re spending, apply it to preset categories, and ensure that you’re managing funds properly and sticking to your assigned budget (or reallocating as needed). If you’re paying cash here and there, you’ll have a much harder time tracking and it’s far more likely you’ll exceed your budget.
Find the Right Credit Card
Choosing the right credit card for your wedding expenses is essential to maximizing benefits. For starters, you’ll want to look for a card that offers stellar incentives for signing up. A 0% APR is pretty much a given, but you should know that such benefits could range from about 6-18 months, depending on the card.
You also need to look for bonus offers like points for early purchases, often within the first 2-3 months of signing up. If you know you’re going to make down payments on significant expenses like the venue, catering, a photographer, and so on, as well as splash some cash on the dress, you’ll want to plan to do it early enough to take advantage of any major purchasing bonuses offered.
You should also look for cards that offer the most desirable rewards. If you’re planning to use accumulated points to pay for your honeymoon, make sure to seek out cards that specifically offer travel rewards for airlines and hotels you favor, or alternately, for unspecified travel, if you’re not yet sure what your honeymoon plans are.
Pay on Time
When using credit cards for wedding expenses, you have to stay on top of payments. If you fail to pay the minimum, you pay late, or you miss payments, you could trigger undesirable penalties that negate your savings and reward benefits. Make sure you take the time to figure out a plan for paying down your credit card that ensures you avoid penalties and take advantage of every incentive offered.