Why Using a Credit Card Can Help You Save Big

Putting some (not all!) of your wedding expenses on a credit card can be a clever way to manage your budget and actually come out ahead.

Before you sign on the dotted line, take a closer look at which credit card you plan to use — one may be considerably better than another depending on where you’re doing your spending. These days, many card companies offer extra rewards for specific types of purchases — which can translate into savings for your wedding expenses. If you strategize your spending to take advantage of target categories such as online or department store shopping or travel, you can end up racking up extra rewards while paying for your wedding. Here, Jeff Hindenach, director of content at NextAdvisor.com, a consumer research website, offers a guide to the best credit cards for different big-day scenarios.

credit card
Photo Credit: iStockphoto

Holding your wedding and/or reception at a hotel?
If you are planning to have your reception at a hotel, sign up for a rewards card that is specific to that hotel chain to gain some extra benefits. For example, the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express offers benefits at Starwood properties such as the Westin, W, Le Meridien and the St. Regis hotels. You earn four to five points for every dollar you spend at any Starwood Preferred hotel, such as the ones listed above. You also get 10,000 points after your fi rst purchase and another 15,000 after you spend $5,000 within the first 6 months, which is enough for a weekend getaway to a hotel like the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa.

Wedding or honeymoon attire
Many department and specialty stores have a good selection of wedding- and honeymoon-worthy attire to choose from, especially men’s tuxedos, so take advantage of some of the rewards offered by certain credit cards. From October to December, the Chase Freedom card offers five percent cash back on department store purchases at retailers such as Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, which would be a great return on your clothing purchases. And if you stock up on honeymoon attire at the same time, you can reap even more rewards.

A good choice for anyone who loves to cook and entertain at home: If you register at Williams-Sonoma and have a Williams-Sonoma Visa Signature Card, you will earn points for every dollar spent on your registry. Just think: You’ll be earning points without even spending any of your own money — which is like getting extra gifts. You can then use all the extra points you earn, and redeem them for any other Williams-Sonoma items you might need but didn’t receive through your registry.

Décor and other wedding extras
Need tea lights to string over your reception area? Or great gift items for your welcome bags? For all those odds and ends that you might not have time to go shopping for, you can use online shopping sites to easily buy and ship. And not only is it convenient, but it can also get you cash back and other rewards. For example, Chase Freedom offers card members a full five percent cash back when they shop on Amazon.com from October to December (benefit categories change on a quarterly rotating schedule). Discover It card also offers five percent cash back on “Holiday Spending,” which usually includes any online purchases during the same time period. (This card, too, features rotating bonus categories throughout the year.)

Want to get a discount on your honeymoon and other future trips? Using a travel rewards credit card can shave hundreds of dollars off your honeymoon. For example, the Capital One Venture Rewards card gives you two mileage points for every dollar you spend. (Mileage can also be applied to other travel expenses.) You also get a 10,000 point bonus if you spend $1,000 your first three months with the card, which is equal to $100 in travel rewards. The mileage is unlimited, can be applied to any airline and does not expire. Start packing your bags!

Be strategic when signing up for new cards. Visit sites like NextAdvisor.com for info, then put your cards to work!