Skip to content

Say yes to the (bridesmaid's) dress: How credit cards can reduce your wedding costs

Nov. 04, 2022
12 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

There's nothing like being asked to be a part of someone's special day. Whether it's via a thoughtful gift box or an excited phone call, when a sibling or close friend asks you to be in their wedding party, you're almost certainly going to say yes.

And then, after a week or a few months, you'll find yourself swiping your card to pay for your dress (or suit or tuxedo). And dress alterations. And shoes. And a gift. And booking your trip to Mexico for the bachelorette (or bachelor) party. And wait, there's a dress code for the trip? Suddenly, you might realize that your seemingly simple "yes" is turning out to be pretty expensive.

I've been in my share of weddings over the past decade, so when my best friend got engaged a few months ago and asked me to be her maid of honor, I knew what I was signing up for. But since this isn't my first rodeo, I also knew that I could take advantage of my credit card rewards (both redeeming and earning) to navigate the extra spending without having to skip this year's holiday shopping.

In fact, if you play your cards right, you can book your own celebratory trip after the wedding is over to reward yourself for surviving the whole thing. Here's how to do it.

My strategy

Earning points on travel

The best and easiest way to use points and miles to offset bridal party costs is to use them to cover travel expenses. I know this. I stay ready for this. So after I agreed to be my friend's maid of honor, I had zero trepidation about the destination she would choose for the bachelorette party. I had over 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points sitting in my account and I knew how to use them.

That's why when the bride told me she wanted to go on a cruise for her bachelorette party, I cringed on the inside. My beloved Chase Ultimate Rewards can take me to a lot of places, but onto a cruise ship is not one of them.

It was time to switch strategies. If I couldn't use my points to cover the trip, I would make sure I was earning points from paying for it. When we were ready to book, I reached for my trusty Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which earns 2 points per dollar spent on travel, including cruises. Before I went to the Carnival website, however, I also checked the merchant offers on my Chase account. I was thrilled to see an offer for $40 back on a Carnival purchase, and I immediately added it to my card.

ANDY NEWMAN/CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE

When I started navigating the booking process, I realized it would be easier to book all six of our reservations at the same time. I volunteered to put the expense on my card and let everyone pay me back.

We booked during a sale and paid just $292 each, so our total cost for the six of us was just over $1,750. At 2 points per dollar, I earned 3,503 Chase Ultimate Rewards points on the booking. TPG values these points at 2 cents each, making these worth around $70.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Combining the merchant offer and the value of the points I earned, I ultimately saved $110 by booking the cruise on my card.

This savings alone may not seem very impressive, but fortunately the bride is also budget-conscious and selected a bridesmaid dress from Amazon that costs under $100. This means that the $292 I had set aside for the cruise now covered both my cruise and my dress, with my savings factored in.

Using points for travel

Even though I couldn't use points for the cruise itself, my Chase Ultimate Rewards points still came in handy. After we booked the cruise, I also had to book a flight from my home in Nashville to get to our port. While we got a great deal on the cruise itself, we're going over a holiday weekend, so good flight deals were minimal. Had I paid cash for my flight, it would have cost more than the cruise itself. And when I read TPG's recommendation that I fly in a day early and stay at a hotel near the port, I knew my travel cost would be even higher.

Fortunately, I was able to transfer some of my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest and Hyatt to keep from having to pay cash for these additional expenses. I was able to get a round-trip flight between Nashville and Orlando that weekend for just over 20,000 Southwest points, and I booked a room at the Hyatt Place Orlando Airport (Category 2, peak pricing) for just under 9,500 World of Hyatt points.

These aren't lucrative redemptions, but using points to book my travel for the cruise allowed me to save around $500 in out-of-pocket costs.

Earn points for everything else

For the rest of my wedding celebration expenses, I'm using my Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Chase Freedom Flex℠ to replenish my Chase Ultimate Rewards points stash.

FILADENDRON/GETTY IMAGES

One of the 5% earning categories for the Freedom Flex this quarter is PayPal, so I'm using it to get five points per dollar spent on anything I can use PayPal to purchase. For the more unusual things I'm paying for, like dress alterations, I'm using my Freedom Unlimited to earn 1.5 points per dollar spent.

Paired with my Chase Sapphire Preferred, these cards allow me to maximize my earning potential for every wedding-related expense.

Related: Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

Your strategy

Use points and miles to cover travel

If you're in a wedding, there's a good chance you'll need to travel for both a bachelor/bachelorette party and the wedding itself. Covering this travel with points and miles is the easiest way to manage your largest expense.

Look at your travel options in advance and, if you can, get a card with a welcome bonus that will cover your travel costs.

LUCIA ROMERO HERRANZ/EYEEM/GETTY IMAGES

For example, if this bachelorette party were being held later in the next year and I was planning now, I would consider getting the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. Both cards are currently offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $1,000 on qualifying purchases in the first three months from account opening, which would easily cover my flights for the cruise and give me plenty of points left to book for a post-wedding trip of my own.

As you work out your points and miles strategy, keep in mind that you won't have much date flexibility in your booking, so you likely won't be able to get the best deals when you book these trips. Plan to spend more of your points and miles for your wedding party travel than you would if you were going for a great deal.

Use a cash-back card

Another great way to help offset the costs of being in a wedding is to take advantage of cash-back rewards. They offer a simple, direct way to cash in on your extra purchases, so you don't have to add anything to your already overwhelming wedding to-do list.

The Citi® Double Cash Card, for example, allows you to earn unlimited 2% cash back (1% when you buy and 1% when you pay) on all your purchases.

With a card like this that earns cash back, you can easily redeem your rewards for a statement credit to reduce your out-of-pocket wedding expenses.

Related: Pros and cons of cash-back cards

Earn points and miles

It's fairly easy to find a card that will earn extra points on your supermarket and streaming charges, but it can feel tricky to decide which card to use when you're spending in less popular categories like shoe stores and makeup counters.

Fortunately, you actually have some great options when it comes to cards that help you earn points and miles from your wedding celebration spending. These are some of our top picks:

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

ERIC HELGAS/THE POINTS GUY

Current bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.

Annual fee: $95.

Why it's a great choice: With this card, you'll earn unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, in addition to unlimited 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. TPG values these miles at 1.85 cents each, meaning you'll get a good return on all your purchases whether you're paying for dress alterations or the bespoke cutting board the bride wants.

Plus, Capital One miles are simple to redeem. You can use them to pay off travel purchases made in the past 90 days directly from your statement, so you don't have to worry about transferring them to travel partners if you don't want to. With this option, you can book flights on whatever airline offers the best cash prices for flights on your travel dates and simply redeem your welcome bonus miles to help cover that cost.


Apply here: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card


Chase Freedom Unlimited®

THE POINTS GUY

Current bonus: Earn an additional 1.5% on all purchases, on up to $20,000 spent, in the first year.

Annual fee: $0.

Why it's a great choice: Normally, this card earns 5% on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% back on all other purchases. With the current welcome bonus, however, it earns 6.5% on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 4.5% back on dining and drugstore purchases and 3% on all other purchases.

In addition to the strong earning potential this card offers, the flexibility it provides makes it a real winner. On its own, the Freedom Unlimited is primarily marketed as a cash-back card, so it's perfect if you want to keep your redemption simple and get a reliable high percentage back on all your purchases. However, if you also hold a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you can transfer the points you earn on your Freedom Unlimited to Chase's full range of travel partners and get even more value.

Regardless of how you choose to redeem your points, this card provides excellent earning potential on every wedding-related purchase.


Apply here: Chase Freedom Unlimited®


American Express® Gold Card

JOHN GRIBBEN/THE POINTS GUY

Current bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership (see rates and fees).

Annual fee: $250.

Why it's a great choice: With this card, you'll earn 4 points per dollar spent on restaurant and supermarket purchases as well as 3 points per dollar on flights. You'll only earn one point per dollar on all other purchases, but what makes this card great for many wedding celebration purchases is Amex's split pay feature.

This feature allows you to put group purchases on your card, request payment from others through Venmo or PayPal, and receive their payments directly as a statement credit. So if, for example, your bachelor or bachelorette party is somewhere like Nashville, you can put all of the restaurant meals on your card and then split all the charges through the app at the end of your trip. This way, you'll earn the full 4 points per dollar spent on the group charges but skip most of the hassle of getting everyone to pay you back.

Related: Use points and miles this wedding season

Bottom line

Agreeing to be part of a wedding party can be an expensive commitment, but the right cards and strategy can help you make the most of your extra expenses.

Whether you opt to redeem points to cover your expenses, earn cash-back on your wedding celebration purchases or build up your points for a future trip, your credit card rewards can keep you smiling through the whole season.

For rates and fees link of the Amex Gold Card, click here

Featured image by WAVEBREAKMEDIA/SHUTTERSTOCK
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees