Which credit card should I use to buy an engagement ring?

May 30, 2020

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Congratulations! You’ve decided to pop the question and you know exactly how much you want to spend on the engagement ring. But did you ask the most important question: how will you actually pay for the ring? According to The Knot’s 2019 Jewelry and Engagement Study, the average engagement ring cost $5,900. Understandably, you’ll want to maximize a big purchase like this with the right credit card.

Romantic walk of a young, married couple in the gardens around Eiffel Tower (Paris, France). (Photo by Aleksandar Nakic/Getty Images)
Photo by Aleksandar Nakic/Getty Images

Reader Chris L. is in this situation. He’s ready to drop between $20,000 and $30,000 on a ring and he asks: What is the best way to pay for it with a credit card? He asked for his best options under three scenarios:

  • Best introductory offer
  • Best introductory spending bonus
  • Points vs. cashback

So I asked TPG’s credit cards team — Madison Blancaflor, credit cards reporter; Katie Genther, senior general assignment and updates reporter; and Jason Stauffer, assistant editor — to take one scenario each and offer their best advice to Chris. Here’s what they came up with.

Best introductory offer: BankAmericard®

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0

Rewards: N/A

Why we chose it: The BankAmericard® from Bank of America has one of the best intro offers for new purchases on the market right now. You’ll have 18 months without interest (14.74% – 24.74% variable APR after the intro period ends), which gives you a nice cushion to pay off a large purchase like an engagement ring.

According to The Knot’s 2019 Jewelry and Engagement Study, the average engagement ring cost $5,900. With the BankAmericard, you’d need to pay at least $328 a month to pay off that over 18 months without interest. While this is a great way to save money on interest, keep in mind that you won’t earn rewards with this card.

Other options: If you want a card that will earn rewards on your ring purchase while still giving you time to pay it off without interest, there are a couple of cards that fit the bill. The Discover it Cash Back is a no-annual-fee card that essentially earns 2% on a ring purchase (1% plus a cash back match bonus at the end of your first year). Plus, you’ll have 14 months from account opening of no interest (0% intro APR) to pay off the purchase (11.99% – 22.99% variable APR after).

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is another choice, earning 1.5% cash back while giving you 0% intro APR on new purchases for the first 15 months from account opening (then a variable APR of 14.99% – 23.74% applies). Both of these cards will also remain valuable well past the intro offer ends and you’ve tied the knot with your significant other.

The information for the Discover it Cash Back, Bank Americard, and Chase Freedom Unlimited has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.          

Best introductory spending bonus: The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Rewards: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening and one point per dollar spent on the engagement ring.

Why we chose it: The Amex Platinum card has a standard welcome bonus offer of 60,000 Membership Rewards points, but it’s possible to get targeted for a much bigger bonus. Through CardMatch you can get an offer as high as 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first three months of having the card (offer subject to change at anytime). This increased bonus is targeted, so it won’t be available for everyone. But if you are eligible for it, you won’t find a better consumer card offer.

Not only does the Amex Platinum have a heathy bonus, but it earns Amex Membership Rewards points, which are some of the most valuable transferable rewards you can earn. Amex points transfer to 22 airline and hotel partners, so you’ll have plenty of options for booking a honeymoon on points. And the Amex Platinum card is loaded with top-tier benefits, like airport lounge access, hotel elite status and airline fee credits. Once you’ve opened the card, be sure to check out our guide to maximizing the Amex Platinum’s benefits.

One of the most useful Amex Platinum benefits in this situation is the card’s purchase protection. With it, you’ll be covered for damage and theft for 120 days from the date of purchase (90 days in New York). You can be reimbursed for the amount charged to the card, for up to a maximum of $10,000 per incident ($50,000 max per account per calendar year). In January 2020 this coverage is changing and will only apply for 90 days from the date of purchase. This insurance is secondary.

Other options: If the Amex Platinum card’s annual fee is too much for you to swallow, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a great alternative. It has a welcome bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on the card in the first three months of opening the account and it only has a $95 annual fee. While the Sapphire Preferred doesn’t come with all the perks of the Amex Platinum, the intro offer is just as valuable. Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to 13 airlines and hotels, including Hyatt, Southwest and United Airlines.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred does have a purchase protection benefit which covers theft or damage to eligible items purchased with your card in the past 120 days. But you’ll only be reimbursed for up to $500 per claim. That’s not nothing, but it’s not going to come close to covering the full price of the ring.

Best for earning points or cash back: Chase Freedom Unlimited

You’re about to make a large purchase, so it’s only natural to want to earn the most points or cash back possible. Unfortunately, most merchants from which you’d purchase an engagement ring won’t code as a merchant type that’ll earn a category bonus on most cards. So, you’ll likely want to use a card that’s good for everyday spending.

My top consumer card pick for purchasing an engagement ring would be the Chase Freedom Unlimited. The Freedom Unlimited provides 1.5% cash back on purchases, but can earn 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent if you also have a Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Based on TPG’s valuations, this means you could get up to a 3% return on your purchase.

We don’t recommend spending more than you can pay during your current billing statement, but the Freedom Unlimited does offer 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 15 months your account is open. Although this can give you additional time to pay off your purchase, the APR will jump to a variable 14.99% – 23.74% based on your creditworthiness once the first 15 months are over.

The Freedom Unlimited will also provide some shopping protections for purchases made with your card. Items you purchase that have a manufacturer’s warranty of three years or less will be covered by an extra year of extended warranty protection for up to $10,000 per claim. You’ll also be protected against theft or damage to your purchases within the first 120 days, but only for up to $500 per item. See our full review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited to learn more about the card.

Further reading: The best credit cards to pair with the Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Freedom Unlimited is a solid pick, but here are a few honorable mention consumer cards that you may also want to consider:

Card Earning on non-bonus spending (effective return) Annual fee Extended warranty protection Purchase protection Return protection
Citi® Double Cash Card 2% cash back on all purchases, which can become 2x ThankYou points (2% to 3.4% return) None No No No
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express 1x Membership Reward points and 50% bonus points after making 30 purchases in a billing statement (2% to 3%) $95 Match warranty of two years or less, extend warranty of two to five years by two years, up to $10,000 Protection against theft or damage within 120 days (90 days for NY residents) of purchase up to $1,000 Up to $300 within 90 days of purchase
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 2x Capital One miles on everything (2.8%) $95 Doubles warranty of three years or less by up to one year, up to $10,000 Protection against theft or damage within 90 days of purchase up to $500 No

The information for the Amex Everyday Preferred has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.          

Bottom line

Now that you know your credit card options to cover the cost of the engagement ring, The Knot offered factors to consider on how much to spend. First, figure out if you’ll be comfortable handling the monthly payments for the ring. It’s a good idea to look at your bills and income to see if you can fit a ring credit card payment into your budget. Remember — if there’s a wedding ahead, you want to factor in spending for that too.

Second, you want to get your soon-to-be fiancé the ring of their dreams. But there need to be a balance between finding a ring they’ll love and feel proud of — but also one that fits the budget. If it’s not a surprise, go shopping together. If it is a surprise, get help from friends and family who know them well and ask for help. Once all that’s done, you can get married and have your happily ever after.

Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor, Katie Genther, Jason Stauffer and Benét J. Wilson

For the rates and fees of The Platinum Card from American Express, click here.

Featured image by Kwangmoozaa/Getty Images

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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