Peak wedding season is upon us, and those cake-filled celebrations of love are more expensive than ever. A new report by popular wedding planning website TheKnot.com says that the average cost of a wedding in 2011 was more than $27,000. According to the US Census Bureau, the median income in 2010 was $49,445 – meaning that the average American wedding costs over half of the average American income.
The good news is, financial worries don`t have to dampen your dreams of the perfect wedding day. Strategic use of credit cards can make every stage of planning the big day easier and more economical when card holders take advantage of perks like concierge service and credit card rewards like cash back, hotel rewards, and frequent-flyer miles.
Credit Card Concierge as Wedding Planner
Many higher-end credit cards offer their customers concierge service, which can help with everything from securing a site for the wedding and booking hotel rooms for guests, to finding the perfect wedding cake bakery and florist.
All Visa Signature cards – the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card and the Citi Platinum Select/AAdvantage Visa Signature Card are two good ones – come with concierge service. Simply call the number on the back of the card to be connected with a Visa Signature concierge who can answer virtually any question, look up information, make reservations at hotels or restaurants, arrange for someone to meet your guests at the airport, and much more.
For American Express Platinum Card members, only the best will do, and American Express`s unmatched concierge service can do things like purchase and deliver wedding favors and secure hotel reservations at sold-out hotels for your out-of-town guests. Simply call or email them and make your request – most card members say the $450 annual fee is easily worth it for the concierge service alone.
How much can you save by using credit card concierge service as your wedding planner? The average wedding planner charges 10 to 15 percent of the total cost of the wedding – so not using one would save around $3,000 for the average wedding.
Look for Rotating Rewards
Many credit cards, like the Chase Freedom Visa and the Discover More card, offer five percent cash back in rotating categories. Both programs allow you to earn five percent cash back on up to $1500 in spending during each quarterly category.
The Chase Freedom card gives 5 percent back at grocery stores during April, May and June this year, so frugal wedding couples can get $75 cash back by ordering grocery store catering platters for a reception or rehearsal dinner. Discover More is giving 5 percent back on all restaurant purchases, so if you hold your rehearsal dinner or reception at a restaurant, you`ll earn maximum cash back by putting the bill on your Discover card.
When the big day is done and it`s time to get away, a travel rewards card can make your wedding spending worthwhile. If you`ve done some of your wedding spending on a hotel rewards credit card like the chase Marriott Rewards Card, you`ll be able to enjoy free room upgrades and maybe an extra night or two for free at any Marriott property worldwide, or use an airline rewards card like the Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards card, which gives you enough bonus miles for a free domestic round-trip fare, just for signing up and making your first purchase.
Happily Ever After
Weddings may be more expensive than ever, but with the right credit card, that steep wedding price tag can pay off with rewards and make your happily-ever-after even happier.