How to save on weddings using credit cards

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Wedding season is generally regarded as late spring to early fall, but for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022, it might as well be every season. As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease, there’s a backlog of couples looking to tie the knot. Venues, caterers, musicians, photographers and the like are in high demand, and an already pricey occasion has become even more costly. The good news is that using the right credit cards can save you a lot of money.

If you need to carry a balance

After all but disappearing in 2020 as unemployment and uncertainty were high, 0 percent APR credit card promotions are back. In fact, you can avoid interest on balance transfers and new purchases for 20 billing cycles on the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card (after that, the regular APR is a variable 14.49 percent to 24.49 percent). Many other cards offer 12- to 18-month interest-free periods.

If you’d benefit from some more time to pay off all of those wedding costs, signing up for one of these cards will spread out your payments and could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest. Several of the longest 0 percent offers don’t include cash back or travel rewards, which is okay if you view improved cash flow and interest savings as rewards in their own respects.

One that offers rewards and a generous 0 percent term is the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card. It gives 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase and a 15-month 0 percent introductory rate on new purchases (its regular APR is a variable 14.99 percent to 24.99 percent).

If you’re interested in a free honeymoon

Now, on to the fun stuff. We might be entering a new golden age of sign-up bonuses as card issuers compete for consumers’ business during the great reopening. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for instance, is offering a record-high 100,000 points to new cardholders who spend $4,000 in their first three months. Those points are worth $1,250 (1.25 cents apiece) if you book travel through Chase, and potentially even more if you transfer to their extensive list of airline and hotel partners.

Here’s where it gets really exciting: You and your spouse can both get this card in your own name. It’s entirely legit and will entitle you to double the introductory bonus. That’s way better than sharing the same account. In fact, Chase pays a 15,000-point referral bonus for each new Sapphire Preferred cardholder you send their way (up to five referrals per year).

With the card enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, 1 point per dollar on everything else. That means the $8,000 you spend to qualify for two welcome bonuses could be worth up to 215,000 points (200,000 points between the two bonuses plus 15,000 points for the referral).

Those points are worth at least $2,687 in free travel (if you book through Chase) or cash back (if you offset eligible grocery, dining or home improvement purchases through Sept. 30). If you transfer to Chase’s travel partners, those points could easily secure a week in a fancy hotel or two round-trip international business class flights, probably with points left over.

If cash back is more your jam

Many wedding costs are for items not included in typical credit card bonus categories. And everyone could use a little more cash, right? That could make a 2 percent cash back card an excellent choice. Options include the Citi® Double Cash Card (technically 1 percent when you make a purchase and 1 percent when you pay it off) and the PayPal Cashback Mastercard®.

If your venue and catering costs qualify as dining purchases—check the merchant category code first—then you should check out one of the best credit cards for restaurants. The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, for example, gives 4 percent cash back on dining. It throws in a $300 bonus when new cardholders spend $3,000 in their first three months.

One more tip

Often, when you reserve a block of rooms at a hotel, you can get bonus points based on your guests’ spending. I did this when I got married. I called two local chain hotels (a Marriott and a Sheraton) and blocked off a series of rooms at discounted group rates. I told my guests they were available, they made the reservations and paid the bills and I got some free rewards points.

The bottom line

A smart credit card strategy can buy you more time to pay off your wedding costs without interest, nab enough travel points for a free honeymoon or put cash right back into your wallet.

Have a question about credit cards? E-mail me at ted.rossman@bankrate.com and I’d be happy to help.

All information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.