How to Buy an Engagement Ring With Bad Credit

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A low credit score isn’t any reason to call off an engagement—but that doesn’t mean you should be forking over three-months’ salary either.

Congratulations! You’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with! In a world full of bad Tinder dates, you scored a keeper, and that is no easy feat. Now all that’s left to do is find a ring and plan the perfect proposal.

The thing is … engagement rings are, uh, expensive. According to a recent survey from Wedding Wire, the average cost of an engagement ring is $4,758—not exactly chump change!

So how can you get the bling you need to adorn her ring finger when your budget is tight and your credit is shot? Never fear! There are myriad ways someone with bad credit can snap up an engagement ring.

Throw out the old rules. 

Have you heard of the “three-month rule?” That’s the outdated notion that whoever is buying the engagement ring (typically the dude) must spend the equivalent of THREE MONTHS’ SALARY on it.

If you’re considering getting engaged, you’ve probably heard about this expectation, and if you’re the one doing the asking, you’ve likely spent a good amount of time stressing about that.

Here’s the thing, though. You don’t need to follow that rule. Think about it: that rule is insane. Most Americans don’t even have $1,000 in savings, let alone three months of their salary ready to be spent on a diamond ring.

If you DO have three months’ salary squirreled away, it’s probably in an emergency fund, and not something you can just liquidate to buy a symbol of your love for your partner. Think of what else that kind of money could buy—it could be a down payment on a house, a seriously decadent honeymoon, a car, or even groceries for a year.

If your future fiancé(e) is likely to throw a fit about the price of his or her ring, you might want to reconsider tying your life to theirs forever.

If all else fails, buy something you can afford for now, and start saving so you can eventually replace it with something a little flashier.

Open a credit card with a no-interest intro period.

Because so few Americans have the money for an engagement ring already saved up, many cash-strapped lovers turn to the noble credit card in order to finance their engagement dreams. But this approach can be tricky.

Even if you have a credit card with a limit that exceeds your three-month threshold, using it to charge a pricey engagement ring can cost you serious cash in the long run. Think about the interest that would accrue every month on a $5,000 balance – it’s not pretty.

If you insist on charging it, the best thing to do is to open a new credit card with an introductory zero-percent APR promotional period. Typically these periods last for six, 12 or 18 months, during which time you won’t be charged interest on your credit card balance.

If you can pay off the price of the ring within that time, you won’t have paid a cent more than its retail value.

Try financing through your jewelry store.

The problem with relying on credit cards to buy an engagement ring? Not everyone has access to the same level of credit. Those zero-percent APR cards are typically only offered to people with good credit, so if you have bad credit—or worse—NO credit, you’re gonna be out of luck.

Still, many jewelry stores offer zero-percent APR financing for customers, with a catch, of course. That catch? You’ll be signing up for a store credit card. This sounds OK in theory, but in practice, it could get you into some hot financial waters.

The amount you’ll be charging will likely be towards the top of your available credit limit on that card, your credit utilization rate will skyrocket, which could bring down your score significantly until you can pay off that balance.

Additionally, when that no-interest period (usually around six months) is up, if you haven’t yet paid off your purchase in full, you could be charged interest from the date of purchase, which kind of defeats the point.

Look for vintage or pawned jewelry. 

Do you really want to buy your future spouse an expensive cookie-cutter ring? Why not look for options that fit their unique personality, a ring that none of their friends will be flaunting on their fingers.

Check your local vintage shops for one-of-a-kind pieces that won’t break the bank. If your partner is more of a traditionalist, try your local pawn shop for more a more up-to-date selection of diamond rings at a fraction of their retail cost.

Don’t die for diamond.

Yeah, diamonds are pretty. They’re sparkly and clear and they look like shiny, unmelted ice. We get it! But diamonds have only recently become the go-to stone for engagements, and there are other stones out there with a similar look and feel that don’t cost as much as a used car. For example:

  • Man-made (or lab-grown) diamonds: Chemically, these are exactly the same as mined diamonds, but they’re typically priced 15 to 20 percent less than their Earth-grown counterparts.
  • Moissanite: This crystal-clear stone is almost as tough as a diamond, and, according to TIME, “actually has greater brilliance and fire (gemologist jargon for sparkle and light-dispersion).” Plus, moissanite is naturally found in meteorites, which makes it the perfect stone for the star in your life.
  • Ruby, emerald, topaz, etc: What’s your sweetheart’s favorite color? Chances are, it’s not clear. Find out and buy a ring with a gemstone in that color. Even the more precious stones like ruby or sapphire cost a fraction of the price of a comparably-sized diamond.
  • Plain metal: If your future spouse isn’t the flashy type, get a solid gold or silver band instead. “My dad proposed to my mom with a simple silver ring he found at an Irish flea market,” reports one of our bloggers. “They’ve been married almost 30 years and she still wears it to this day.”

Take out a personal loan. 

This is not a good option. We’ll say it again: if you are considering taking out a personal loan in order to finance a piece of jewelry, you should revaluate. There are cheaper options out there, and you shouldn’t need to spend three months salary on this ring, no matter what it signifies to you.

That being said, if you can’t be talked out of borrowing money in order to buy an engagement ring, you need to make sure you’re doing it the right way.

Don’t be taken in by predatory lenders hawking sketchy no credit check loans like payday loans or cash advances. They might give you cash quickly, but you could end up in a cycle of debt that could affect your finances (and your marriage!) for years to come.

If you’re going to take out a bad credit loan to fund an engagement ring purchase, make sure it’s an installment loan from a credible, responsible lender that won’t drag you down.

If your lender isn’t reporting on-time payments to the credit bureaus, doesn’t give you an easy-to-understand summary of your loan terms, and doesn’t offer longer-term payment options that bring down your monthly costs, you should reconsider borrowing from them, especially if you don’t need to.

Remember, at the end of the day, you don’t need an engagement ring to get engaged. All you need is love. If you still want to buy a rock for your rock, go for it! Just make sure you stay within your means so you don’t start off your married life on the wrong financial foot.

To learn more about living with bad credit, check out these related posts and articles from OppLoans:

What are some ways you or your spouse saved money on an engagement ring? We want to hear from you! You can email us or you can find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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The information contained herein is provided for free and is to be used for educational and informational purposes only. We are not a credit repair organization as defined under federal or state law and we do not provide "credit repair" services or advice or assistance regarding "rebuilding" or "improving" your credit. Articles provided in connection with this blog are general in nature, provided for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for individualized professional advice. We make no representation that we will improve or attempt to improve your credit record, history, or rating through the use of the resources provided through the OppLoans blog.