For many people their wedding will be one of the most expensive events in their life. Chances are, you may not have the cash on hand to pay for it all up front. If you do end up having to charge parts (or even, all) of your wedding, we have some tips on how to do it the smart way.
Pick Your Card Wisely
It’s easier to use a card that you already have rather than opening up a new one. Look at your cards and weigh out which ones have the highest limits. You may not use your entire credit line, but it’s good to have the cushioning of a high limit. If your cards don’t have limits as high as you’d like, go ahead and call your credit card company and ask for your limit to be raised. As long as you’re in good standing, there really shouldn’t be a big issue. You can even mention that you’re getting married soon and have lots of expenses coming up. If you do plan on opening a new card, shop what’s out there. It’s easiest to pick cards that don’t have annual fees, so you don’t get extra charges just to spend your money.
Know Your Extras
When you’re picking out your card, know what the card’s benefits are. Most cards have some form of rewards or cash back programs associated with them. If you play these rewards right, you can use your rewards for fun things (like a honeymoon!). For example, some cards do a higher cash back percentage when you spend money on gas than it does on groceries. If you use one specific card to pay for all your gas (or even offer to pay for gas as your cut for your bachelorette party), you can use those rewards later. There are lots of travel-based cards that offer great rewards that are redeemable on hotel stays and airfare. Just don’t get caught up charging everything because you get a percentage back- remember you’re not saving money by spending it. Before you pick a card to match with an expense, do some research on your card’s website to make sure your purchases will qualify for the most rewards possible. Some cash back rewards extras may also cut off after a certain amount (i.e., 5% cashback up to $1000 in purchases), so keep that in mind in your budget.
Once you’ve shopped around for your wedding, you’ll probably have a ballpark idea of how much you’ll end up spending. With this budget in mind, realistically figure out how long it will take for you to pay off. By realistically, we mean give yourself some leeway in case you can’t always pay off as much as you’d like. If you have these numbers in mind you may be able to haggle with your bank for a better interest rate. Banks are most concerned with getting their money back, and if you are able to present a plan of action to get them paid, they will be more likely to help you out too (author’s note: by presenting a plan to my bank I was able to get my interest rates lowered before I put school charges on my credit card!).
Know What To Charge
Even if you have a high credit limit, try not to be tempted to max it out. Ideally, you want your credit utilization to be around 10-30% (if you have a credit card with $100 limit, you want to keep your spending on that card to $10-$30). That’s a safe range that won’t hurt your credit score. Plan what you will be paying for with plastic before you checkout. Stick to only charging the expenses that you planned on (and not that 2nd sugar-free energy drink of the day or spontaneous snack- all those charges really add up!) to keep your spending and payments on track.
Pay As You Go
If you can afford to pay off your credit cards a little more than you anticipated- go for it! If you plan on paying off $800 a month but have an extra few dollars lying around, put it towards the cause. You can even do little side projects to help pay off your credit cards, like selling your old clothes to consignment stores or old furniture on craigslist. Even small amounts like recycling cans can add up and over time take a serious chunk out of your credit card debt.