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I Want Those Points: Who Pays on Valentine’s Day?

Feb. 14, 2014
Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards
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Paying for a Valentine’s Day date is a tried-and-true touchy subject. Not only do dates have to consider proper etiquette, chivalry and political correctness when picking up the tab — they also have to figure out who gets to reap the credit card rewards! If using your credit card to pay for the date is a tough topic for you to broach with your valentine, take in a deep breath and read on for a few reward-reaping strategies.

A word to the wise and credit savvy

When you offer to pay for your valentine’s date, it’s not so wise to mention you’re looking to score some rewards points by the end of the night. The romantic gesture of paying for dinner doesn’t seem so romantic when you have an ulterior motive. However, considering that Valentine’s Day gifts and dinner combined cost an average of more than $250, and the entirety of that expense generally falls on one person’s shoulders, you can’t be too hard on yourself (or your partner) for hoping to get a few rewards points.

That being said, before you go in for the swipe, you’ll have to figure out if your date is OK with you paying in the first place.

Who should pay for the date?

Sometimes it’s awkward to outright ask if it’s OK to pick up the tab, and this is especially true for Valentine’s Day. It’s best to let that moment you reach for the check be as organic as possible. To avoid asking that awkward question, you can guess who will get to grab the tab by answering another key question: What stage is your relationship in? Believe it or not, the answer to this question might hugely impact who picks up the bill, swipes the card and reaps the rewards.

The earlier you are in a relationship, the more likely it is that you and your date will rely on societal conventions and commonplace etiquette to decide who pays for the date. This may mean the man will likely to offer or that the person who extended the invitation will pay. Of course, as time goes on, proper protocol is shaped by you and your partner’s values and habits. Just keep in mind that the first few dates might be more traditional.

On cookie cutters, compromises and credit

Since relationships vary in length and established norms, there is no clear, cookie-cutter answer for who should get to pick up the check. However, with a little forethought, you can make sure you’re not left without rewards by the end of the night. Flexibility is the key to creating a realistic strategy. Depending on how the date goes, here are a few strategies for optimizing your rewards in a smooth and subtle way:

Go for the trifecta: Dinner, drinks and drive. If you know that your date feels comfortable letting you pay for a night out on the town, take the initiative to pay for things throughout the date. Doing so will allow you to seriously rack up points. For example, treating your beau to a meal can get you restaurant points, and driving can earn you additional points for gas. If you’d prefer to imbibe, paying for a cab instead or driving can contribute to earning a rewards bonus if you’ve recently opened a new card.

Offer to get drinks or pay for a movie if your partner absolutely insists on picking up the check for dinner. If there’s no smooth way to cover dinner expenses, invite your significant other to an after-dinner activity. By extending the date you not only get to spend more time with your valentine, you give yourself more opportunities to accumulate points.

Plan a picnic or cook dinner instead of going out. Some rewards cards offer as much as 6% cash back on groceries. Considering the potential high return on groceries, you can treat your sweet to gourmet ingredients and fine wine without having to go out. On top of reaping those rewards, your date will appreciate the extra effort you put into making the night so special.

Purchase a Valentine’s Day gift using credit. While you can’t control whether your date wants to pay for everything, you can prepare for that scenario. If you know that special someone will refuse to let you pay for a single thing during the entire date, get them a romantic gift using your rewards card. Some rewards cards offer points or discounts for shopping at certain brick-and-mortar or online stores.

» MORE: Why nearly every purchase should be on a credit card

Depending on your values, it may or may not seem appropriate to pay for your Valentine’s Day date. Yet, regardless of those values, credit card rewards are a great incentive to pick up the tab. This Valentine’s Day, make sure you earn double the rewards: one point by spending with your credit card, one point from your sweetheart by taking care of some or all of the date. If you can’t get your card in edgewise, get your valentine a nice gift anyway and offer to treat them to another date. Not only does this give you another chance to score some rewards, it’s also an organic way to ask for another date.

Date image via Shutterstock.