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Columns: The Debt Adviser
Steve Bucci   Expert: Steve Bucci
The Debt Adviser
Partners should bear cost of nuptials proportional to income
The Debt Adviser

Paying for wedding with new credit card

Dear Debt Adviser,
My fiancee and I would like to get a new credit card to put wedding expenses on. She has a higher FICO score than I do (hers is in the 720-730 area, mine is in the mid-600s), but I make considerably more money than she does ($60,000 versus $20,000). The credit card we would be applying for would normally require a score like hers. I want to know if it would be wise for us to apply for the card jointly, or if she should apply for the card by herself. I would think she would be able to get the card by herself, but I wonder if the credit limit she would receive would be very low considering her income. Thanks in advance!
-- Craig

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Dear Craig,
Oh ... my ... goodness.

How do I get your attention without using a two-by-four? Why is your credit score in the 600s? Why haven't you saved for the wedding? Why are you using a credit card, of all things, to finance what should be one of the happiest days of your lives? How much of a limit are you looking for, anyway?!

Is your fiancee in such a state of bliss that she doesn't realize that by financing the wedding on a card in her name she will be solely responsible for the debt?

These and other questions come to my mind immediately. That they haven't come to either of yours yet makes me very concerned. 

My advice is not to finance your futures, especially with a variable interest rate loan! A better idea is to save for the wedding expenses for which you would be using a credit card.  If you want or need to get married before you are able to save the money, cut back on the expenses for the wedding so you don't need to charge anything. I also endorse bringing each of your parents into the funding decision and letting them contribute to the extent they are able.

Being an experienced adviser, parent and husband, I am all too aware that if you are not wildly optimistic about your futures now, you probably never will be. So, if you want to know how to do things your way, here goes:

It is not a good idea for either one of you to get stuck with the bill for the wedding if you part ways before the tab is paid. So, why not take an egalitarian approach: Apply for two credit cards, one in each of your names, and split the costs based on your respective incomes. So, if she makes one-fourth of the household income, let her put one-fourth of the charged amount on her card.

It is important for you each to have credit in your own names and the financial responsibility would be shared equally. I know, I know, you are getting married and will be sharing everything quite willingly. Do this for the protection of both of you.

Now to the part that no one wants to discuss -- paying off the balance. I would hope you are charging no more than what you can pay off in nine months or less. You will still be gazing into each other's eyes with love and passion and planning a wonderful future together at that point. Also, from a practical standpoint, unless you already have one, you'll be clear of this debt before any new little expenses are born. 

Seriously, have a plan in place to pay off the balance from the wedding as quickly as you can.

Good luck!'s corrections policy -- Posted: May 25, 2007
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