Proposing to the love of one’s life is enough to make anyone feel a little panicky. We’re here to tell you that buying the ring should be the easy part. Follow our tips to maximize your purchase without getting into debt or overspending; we may even get you some cash back.
Important note: Credit card rates and perks are accurate as of publish date, but we suggest you confirm the policies on each card’s website before you make any purchases as details can change. Using credit cards for big purchases reaps huge rewards but only if you plan to auto-pay immediately or pay off the bill quickly. Some cards have annual fees.
*Additional Note: Due to Covid-19, many credit card companies have extended the time period in which consumers have to meet spend bonuses. Consult the terms and conditions for each card for more information.
Tip #1: Use a credit card that has 0% APR and offers rewards or cash back
Whether you plan to spend $1,000 or $20,000, use a credit card that has a 0% introductory APR offer if you need to finance the ring. Cards with this offer give you several months to pay off your purchase without the added burden of interest.
Our picks include the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which has no annual fee and 0% APR for 15 months from account opening. Plus, you earn 1.5% cash back on all credit card purchases and an extra $20 if you spend $500 within the first three months of opening the card. Cash back comes in two possible forms:
1) points that you can combine with points from other Chase cards (under their program known as “Ultimate Rewards”) — like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred card…
2) points you can redeem for statement credits, offering you some flexibility to earn either cash or rewards. Just beware of the 3% foreign transaction fee on purchases made abroad; use another card if abroad or don’t buy the ring abroad.
Another smart option is the Capital One Quicksilver. As with the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you can earn 1.5% cash back on your purchases plus an extra $150 if you spend $500 within the first three months of opening the card. There’s no annual fee and 0% APR for the first 15 months.
Another possibility: The Discover It Cashback card has no annual fee and offers 0% APR for 14 months, and you get 1% cash back on jewelry purchases. Plus, Discover will match all of the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year (no limit!), getting even more of your ring purchase back into your wallet. What’s more, you can earn 5% cash back on rotating categories of purchases each quarter (up to a quarterly maximum) like restaurants and supermarkets (it never focuses on jewelry, sadly).
If you’d rather earn points than get cash back, the Amex Everyday card has no annual fee and offers Amex Membership Rewards points, which can later be redeemed or transferred for flights and hotels with many partner companies. While you only earn 1X point per dollar spent on jewelry purchases, you’ll get a 10,000-point bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three months of card membership, and there’s 0% APR for the first 15 months. The card also offers 2X points on supermarket purchases as well as 20% extra points if you make 20 purchases or more in one billing cycle.
Tip #2: Make sure your credit limit is high enough (or use two cards)
You may be limited on your purchase amount, especially when opening a new card. So call the company to find your limit or ask for a higher one. It never hurts to make a case as to why your limit should be extended — the worst they can say is no. Being polite can go a long way, and feel free to share your epic proposal plan and hope the customer rep caves.
If you plan to take advantage of the introductory 0% APR offers, you’ll want to buy the ring soon after opening the card. But if you’re worried your limit will be too low, it’s worth making another purchase first and paying it off on the first billing cycle. It may help you prove your case to the credit card company as to why you need a higher limit for the ring purchase. Making and paying off the card will contribute to a slow and steady increase in your credit score, as well as proving to the company that you are capable of paying purchases off in a timely manner, both things that will work for you when asking for a credit line increase.
If a credit limit increase proves to be impossible, ask the jewelry store if you can pay for the ring on two different credit cards so you can stay within your limits on each.
Tip #3: Coordinate when you get the credit card and when you buy the ring
You won’t be able to—boom!—buy the ring the day you apply for the card. It’s going to take at least week in many cases to get the physical card in the mail (and get approved). Before you fill out an application: Carefully read all terms. Some cards with introductory 0% APR only allow you to apply that financing option on purchases made within a certain amount of time from the account opening—like within 14 months. So you must have a plan before you both apply for the card and buy the ring. Wait too long and you’ll lose the 0% APR that was the only reason you wanted the card anyway (and it could skyrocket to as high as 27%, thereby adding heaps of unwanted debt).
Tip #4: Use a credit card with purchase protection
Purchase protection terms can be hazy, but some credit cards will offer protection in case of accidental damage or theft. Many Amex cards, for example, will cover $1,000 per occurrence, up to $50,000 per calendar year. However, some premium cards such as the Platinum Card from American Express offer $10,000 per occurrence up to $50,000 per calendar year for claims submitted between 90-120 days of purchase (the time limit depends on your state of residence) if the ring was stolen, accidentally damaged or even lost. If a natural disaster caused the accidental damage, a $500 limit applies (so leave the ring in the hotel safe when volcano trekking on your honeymoon).
The big question is: Are engagement rings excluded from the policy? Although jewelry isn’t specifically excluded, sometimes terms state that one-of-a-kind items, as well as antique and previously owned items, are not covered. So if your ring fits into one of those categories, it may not be eligible. Remember to save your receipt, and you’ll be asked to show a police report if the ring was stolen.
Citi outright states that jewelry is excluded from its damage and theft protection. Chase only offers $500 on most cards, but up to $10,000 on a premium card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve for damaged or stolen items within 120 days of the loss. However, read the fine print, because clauses like filing a police report within 48 hours of the theft are mandatory to process your claim. And the rules may change at any time.
The best thing to do is call your card company before purchasing (or even applying) to see what kind of protection is applicable on your card, and what the exclusions are. Read all the fine print on your policy once it arrives in the mail, too. This may be a deciding factor in which card you use, so it’s best to clarify any doubts before purchasing.
Biggest mistakes people make:
Don’t be persuaded into opening a jewelry store credit card
The process of opening one is annoying and time-consuming, especially if you don’t have perfect credit. The interest rates are generally high and you can’t use the card elsewhere. Plus, you won’t earn any kind of travel rewards or get cash back.
Don’t use a card with foreign transaction fees.
While we don’t recommend buying an engagement ring abroad with any card (things can get complicated if you later discover issues with the ring), if you do, make sure your chosen card doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee because this 3% extra cost often negates any of the cash-back benefits you earned.
Don’t count on credit card return protection policies to reimburse you if she says no.
All the policies we could find specifically exclude jewelry in their terms, so if the store doesn’t allow returns, you won’t be covered on your card, regardless of which card you choose. Make sure to discuss a return policy with the store you’re purchasing from, or think long and hard about buying the ring if you’re nervous you’ll have to return it.
Don’t miss the deadline for paying off your debt within the specified 0% APR introductory terms.
Because you get such a long period free of interest, it typically skyrockets after the intro period is over — up to 27%, in some cases. So make sure to create and follow a personal payment plan. While we aren’t privy to all the secrets of marital bliss, we can say with absolute certainty that starting off with extreme debt won’t get you there.