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How to pay for your wedding with a credit card

Keep the money side of your wedding simple with 4 steps for choosing and using a credit card, plus what to watch out for.

The venue, photographer, flowers and clothes all help make your wedding day special but they do come at a price. In Australia, the average cost of a wedding is $36,000 according to the government's Moneysmart website.

It also reported that 60% of people got a loan and 18% used a credit card to pay for wedding expenses. While 82% of people also used savings, the fees and interest charges of credit cards or loans could make your wedding costs even higher. So if you're thinking of using a credit card for your wedding, here you'll find details about what types of cards to consider and the key questions to ask before you pay with plastic.

Step 1: Choose what wedding costs you'll pay for with a credit card

You'll usually be able to pay for some or all of the big wedding expenses using a credit card, cash or a combination of both. This includes:

  • Venue hire
  • Catering
  • Dresses, suits and other clothes
  • Photography
  • Flowers
  • Transport and accommodation

Some wedding expenses may be cash-only. For example, your celebrant or photographer might not have card payments set up for their business (especially if they're a sole trader). Or, the venue may require a cash deposit as security for your chosen date. These details really depend on the wedding vendors, so it's worth asking when you first approach them to help you plan how you'll pay for different parts of your wedding.

How much should you pay for with a credit card?

Everyone's wedding plans are different – and so are the ways people pay for them. But you shouldn't use a credit card to pay for everything because of the risk of high interest charges and spiralling debt.

To give you some perspective, the average standard interest rate is 20.07% p.a. according to data from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). In comparison, the average interest rate for a personal loan is 7.86% p.a. if it's a variable rate loan and 10.49% p.a. if it's a fixed rate loan. And using savings doesn't attract interest charges at all.

Bottom line? Try to use savings whenever you can and have a clear idea of how long it would take you to pay off a credit card. If it's going to take more than a year, compare personal loans to see if you could save on rates and fees.

Step 2: Talk about your budget

It's important you and your partner are on the same page about the costs and how you plan to pay for them. According to Moneysmart, most people (82%) use savings to help fund their big day. Sometimes parents and other family members will also offer to pay for parts of your wedding.

The more you both talk about these options, the easier it will be to work out your timeline for different payments – including repaying any credit cards or personal loans you've taken out for your wedding.

Podcast: How to plan a realistic wedding budget

Finder survey: What are people primarily saving for?

An emergency fund43.1%33.65%
A house deposit16.72%17.48%
A vehicle9.83%16.54%
I am not saving money in a savings account10.34%10.34%
Debt repayment8.97%8.46%
Having children4.31%3.76%
A wedding1.72%2.44%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1113 Australians, December 2023

Step 3: Pick a card that fits your goals

Just like there's no best dress for every bride, there isn't a single credit card that fits everyone's wedding plans, spending patterns and goals. You can find a card that suits you by thinking about these factors when you're looking at different options.

To get started, let's look at two of the biggest reasons people use credit cards for weddings:

  1. To cover the cost of what you need and then pay it off over time
  2. To earn points that could pay for a honeymoon, future holiday or other rewards

With that in mind, here's a rundown of different types of credit cards you could consider for your wedding.

0% interest credit cards
Pay for wedding expenses and get an interest-free introductory period that's usually between 3 and 15 months.
Low rate credit cards
If you need more time to repay your wedding expenses, a card with a low ongoing interest rate could help you save on interest and budget for repayments.
Frequent flyer credit cards
Want to use points to pay for your honeymoon? These cards can come with huge bonus point offers, as well as earning points per $1 spent.
Rewards credit cards
If you're not tied to a frequent flyer program but still want luxuries or even cashback, plenty of rewards cards also come with introductory offers.

Step 4: Pay for your wedding and plan your repayments

Once you start using your credit card for wedding expenses, it's a good idea to use a repayment calculator to get a sense of how long it will take to repay. This will help you keep on top of the debt and track how much interest you're paying so you can keep the costs as low as possible.

How long would it take to pay off a wedding you've put on your credit card?

The overall cost of your wedding, your credit card repayments and the interest rates and fees all have a big impact on how long it takes to repay.

To give you an idea, say you had a credit card with a 19.94% p.a. interest rate. Here's how it would look with two different budgets:

Low-cost scenario

  • Credit card spending: $5,000
  • Interest rate: 0% p.a. for 12 months, then 19.94% p.a.
  • Monthly repayments: $450
  • Total months to repay: 12
  • Interest costs: $0

High-cost scenario

  • Credit card spending: $20,000
  • Interest rate: 13.99% p.a.
  • Monthly repayments: $800
  • Total months to repay: 29.73
  • Interest costs: $3,781.05

Based on calculations using Finder's credit card repayment calculator.

These two scenarios show how different wedding budgets, credit card features and repayments can lead to very different timeframes and interest costs.

Planning ahead can help you keep credit card costs down (and avoid years of debt). So once you know your wedding budget, work out how much you'll put on your credit card and what you can afford to repay each month. That will give you an idea of how long you'll be paying off your card – and time to look at other spending options if the interest costs look too high.

Mistakes to avoid when using a credit card for your wedding

  • Spending more than you can afford to repay. Credit cards can make it easy to pay for what you want, but putting more on the card than you can afford will put you on the back foot financially.
  • Missing the due date for repayments. Even if you've got a 0% promotional interest rate, you need to pay at least the minimum by your statement's due date to avoid penalties. As well as late payment fees, it could affect your credit score and your chance of getting approved for other forms of finance, including a home loan.
  • Paying high interest rates. If you use your credit card to finance your wedding and carry a balance, you may end up with a bigger debt due to interest charges. Keep this in mind for your budget and when you're comparing credit card options so that you can choose a card or other payment method that's affordable for your circumstances.
  • Withdrawing cash for payments. Even though you can use a credit card to withdraw cash, it comes at the cost of cash advance fees (usually 2–3% of the total amount) and interest charges. Cash advance transactions usually aren't eligible for interest-free periods and don't earn points. So if you need to pay for some wedding expenses in cash, it's better to use money from your bank account or savings.

What if I've made a payment and then need to reschedule or cancel my wedding?

As soon as you can, talk to the venue, celebrant, photographer and other wedding vendors about your options. In most cases, you'll be able to work out a different date or get a refund (but you may lose any non-refundable deposits).

If you're just starting to plan your wedding now, you could also look at wedding insurance. There are options for domestic weddings as well as international ones – although most currently have updated details about what is and isn't covered due to coronavirus.

If you can't come to an agreement with the vendor, you could contact your credit card company and see if it's possible to request a chargeback to your account.

A credit card can help you pay for your wedding but the potential interest charges and annual fees could add to your budget. If you have savings or time to save up some money, using it will help you keep these potential costs to a minimum.

Images: Shutterstock, Getty

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