You’ve set your wedding date, you have a budget, and you’re ready to start planning your big day. A consideration many couples face during wedding planning is whether to pay for expenses with cash or credit.
If you have a rewards credit card and you never carry a balance, then you may want to consider putting what you can on your card. Not only will you earn rewards , but using a credit card to pay for wedding expenses can also help better protect you against identity theft and dealing with vendors you don’t know. but As you work toward your new life with your spouse, using a credit card responsibly can help you build a solid credit history.
With all of that in mind, here are five wedding expenses that you may want to put on a credit card.
1. The wedding gown
If you’ve ever watched TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress,” you may have a sense for the going rate of a wedding dress. Some women on the show try on dresses that cost between $5,000 and $10,000—or more. Fortunately, according to The Knot Real Weddings Study, most women spend an average of $1,357 on their wedding gown. That’s a lot less than what you see on the TLC show, but it’s still a significant expense.
There’s risk involved when you purchase a gown, especially if alterations are required. What if the alterations aren’t done properly? Consider putting this expense on your credit card so that you will have consumer protections in place to help safeguard you against wedding dress nightmares. As with any charge, be sure to read the fine print on the credit card disclosure statements you receive in the mail, in case there’s an exclusion for altered garments.
2. Everything you buy online
Lately, it seems like there’s a new data breach every week. Breaches can lead to identity theft, and that’s the last thing you want to deal with when you’re planning a wedding. Even if a site isn’t breached, if you enter your information into a fraudulent vendor’s website, you could be at risk of identity theft or credit card fraud.
If you use a debit card on a merchant’s site and its data is breached, you risk losing all the cash in your checking account for a week or longer—and you might not even get all of it back. However, if you use a credit card and a breach occurs, you may not have to worry about a direct hit to your immediate cash flow. You should still take the necessary precautions to help better protect yourself against identity theft, but by using a credit card, your immediate cash flow may be better protected, and your financial liability could be lessened.
3. Venue deposits
Depending on the nature of your wedding, you may have to put down one deposit for the location for your wedding ceremony and a second deposit for your reception, if it’s being held in a different place.
In the event something happens to the venue itself prior to your ceremony, and if you paid your deposit with a credit card, you can let your credit card company know about the situation and ask for help with a refund. There could be limitations to how much the credit card company can help you, but at least you have a chance to get a refund.
4. Services you hire for the wedding
The Knot study notes that the total average cost for a florist is around $2,000, which, to most people, is a significant investment. But what happens if the flowers arrive in less-than-tip-top shape?
If you paid with a credit card, contact your credit card company and tell it to withhold payment to that florist. This won’t fix the disaster that occurred, but at least you won’t have to pay for the ruined flowers (or sue the florist to get your money back).
5. The honeymoon
A honeymoon can be a good opportunity to contribute to your rewards program. If you’ve been using that credit card to pay for wedding expenses, you may even be able to apply the rewards you’ve already earned toward airline tickets or hotel stays.
Read the documentation for the rewards program carefully so you can fully take advantage of discounts on tickets, rental cars, hotel stays, dining, travel insurance, and more. You might even have enough rewards left to use when you go out to celebrate your first anniversary.
Beverly Harzog is a nationally recognized credit card expert, consumer advocate, and author of The Debt Escape Plan: How to Free Yourself From Credit Card Balances, Boost Your Credit Score, and Live Debt-Free. She also runs a popular consumer credit blog on her website, www.BeverlyHarzog.com.