How Our Family Took A Free 5 Day Carnival Fantasy Cruise

When my wife found out she was pregnant last year, we were super happy. We were going to be parents!

Unfortunately, that meant we would have to take a break from our favorite vacation, cruising.

You can’t cruise after 20 weeks pregnant and our new son couldn’t cruise until he was at least six months old.

That meant we had to take a longer break than we would have liked.

Typically, we like to take two cruises per year. This time we took an 18 month break between cruises.

Thankfully, our cruising vacation drought came to an end recently as we embarked on a 5 day family cruise on the Carnival Fantasy.

As always, I like to detail our vacation costs here on the blog.

I like to share how we save money cruising as well as to share how affordable cruising can be, even for families. For those that aren’t familiar with the benefits of cruises, I’ll share why we enjoy them so much, too.

To make things even better, we were able to offset all of these costs and essentially take a free Carnival cruise.

Here’s exactly how much our 5 day Carnival Fantasy cruise cost and how we got it for free.

Our Cruise

For our first cruise with our son, we decided to take a shorter cruise out of Mobile, Alabama because it was close to home. We figured this would be a great test to see if our son would enjoy cruising without causing any major stress.

The only option out of Mobile, Alabama was the Carnival Fantasy, Carnival’s oldest ship. We didn’t let that deter us, though. We still had a blast. In fact, the ship has been kept up very well and has even received recent upgrades.

The five day cruise included stops in Cozumel, Mexico and Costa Maya, Mexico.

We don’t really do much in port other than look around the shops because we have amazing beaches just a couple miles from home. For that reason, we didn’t really care where the cruise went. We were just ready to cruise again.

The Cost of Our Cruise

Our cruise was not during peak season so we didn’t have to pay peak cruise prices. On the other hand, this was the first time paying for a third person so our costs were higher than usual.

Yes, cruise lines charge the same price for a 6 month old as they would charge for a 21 year old. The only difference is Carnival does not require gratuities for children under the age of two.

Cruise Fare

The cruise fare for my wife and I was $344 each. Our son added an additional $129. Our total cruise fare was $817.

Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses

Each person who sails has to pay these fees. They’re the same per person no matter how many people you have in your room. For this trip, we each paid $80.30 in taxes, fees and port expenses for a total of $240.90.

Suggested Gratuities

Cruise lines says gratuities, a fancy word for tips, are optional. That said, they automatically charge the tips to your account when you’re onboard if you don’t prepay them before you leave for the cruise.

Gratuities are a part of the cruise workers’ compensation, so we definitely leave this alone and pay the $12.95 per person per day.

Gratuities aren’t required for guests under the age of two, so we only paid for my wife and I. This cost was $129.50.

Parking

We always drive to the cruise ports, so we have to find a place to leave our car while we cruise. Usually, we shop around and find parking that is cheaper than what the cruise terminal offers.

Sadly, Mobile only has one cruise ship that visits the port and the port is downtown. That meant there were no parking alternatives. We ended up paying $18 per day for a total of $90.

Voluntary Tips

When you arrive at a cruise port, you drop your bags off with a porter. The porter takes the luggage and puts it in the proper area to get loaded on the ship.

While these employees are paid an hourly rate, it is customary to tip them $1 per bag according to Carnival. We tipped $2 for our two bags.

Onboard Spending

Onboard spending can add up quickly if you like to drink. However, this cruise we didn’t drink hardly at all. My wife had a margarita and we both had a free drink we earned from the loyalty program for a total of $12.87 including tips.

We took advantage of the multiple photo opportunities to get a couple of professional family photos. We bought two photos and a CD with one of the images for $53.97.

As far as souvenirs go, my wife purchased two shirts for $20 and we bought a Christmas ornament for $12.95.

Finally, because we weren’t drinking as much, I purchased two fancy deserts for $2.59 each or $5.18 total.

We also had received onboard credit of $8.49 per person or $25.47. This brought our total onboard spending down to $79.50.

Spending In The Ports

We usually avoid buying many of the touristy items vendors sell in the ports. This time we decided to get our son a small souvenir to represent his first cruise. We found a small maraca he could use as a rattle for $1. That’s all we bought in Mexico.

Travel To And From The Port

Travelling to Mobile only cost us $27.74 in fuel costs. On the way there, we didn’t have to stop for a meal. On the return trip, we got off the cruise ship a bit later than anticipated and stopped for lunch, which cost us $11.78.

The total cost of traveling to and from Mobile was $39.52.

Items For The Cruise

Finally, we did purchase some supplies to take on the cruise. In total, we spent $25 for things like Dramamine, bottled water, soda and other items we brought with us on the cruise.

Total Cost

Adding up all of the above costs bring us to a total of $1,424.42 for our family 5 day Carnival Fantasy cruise. In the end, we didn’t end up having to spend a penny of our own money to go on this wonderful vacation. Here’s how we offset the cost of our cruise.

How We Got Our Cruise For Free

Every time we shop at Walmart we use Walmart Savings Catcher to find us savings. Basically, if Walmart finds a lower price, we get the difference in a gift card. If you’re unfamiliar with the program, I wrote a whole post about it here.

We used $25 of our rewards to offset the items we bought for our cruise. We still needed $1,399.42 to pay for the rest of our cruise.

Credit Card Rewards

Credit card rewards are one of our main source of travel funds. My wife and I used regular credit card rewards and sign up bonuses to pay for our 5 day Carnival Fantasy cruise. Here’s exactly what we used.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus

For this cruise, my wife and I both signed up for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus. We each earned a $500 value sign up bonus for spending $3,000 on our cards within the first three months of having the cards.

In addition, we each earned $60 in regular rewards for spending the $3,000 and $23 in travel rebates for redeeming our rewards. We each earned $583 for using the Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card for a total of $1,166.

After using the Barclaycard Arrival Plus sign up bonuses, we still had to figure out how to pay for the last $233.42 of our cruise. It was much easier than you’d think.

Citi Double Cash

When we aren’t working toward sign up bonuses, we use our Citi Double Cash credit card to essentially earn 2% cash back on all of our purchases. Over time, we had earned hundreds of dollars in rewards.

We redeemed $233.42 to pay off the remaining cruise costs and still had some Double Cash rewards left over.

The Credit Card We Don’t Use

If you’ve ever sailed Carnival before, you might be surprised to hear I don’t use the Carnival FunPoints World Mastercard.

While the Carnival credit card does offer $100 toward Carnival travel after the first purchase, it only offers 2 points per dollar on Carnival purchases and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. I’d rather sign up for cards that offer better sign up bonuses and rewards.

However, on this cruise I quickly learned many people don’t know about the great credit card offers available.

A representative sat in a highly trafficked area of the cruise ship offering a cheap Carnival backpack bag and a lanyard to hold your cruise key card for signing up for the card. The applications rolled in fast and furious.

If you’re going to sign up for a card, make sure you’re getting a better bonus than a cheap lanyard and backpack bag.

If you’re interested in finding credit cards to help you cruise for free, check out my curated list of the best sign up bonus credit cards, which I update monthly. I use many of these cards to help pay for our vacations.

Why We Enjoy Cruising

Now that you know how much our cruise cost and how we essentially got the cruise for free, I’d like to share why we think cruising is such a great deal.

Cruising Is Relaxing

When it comes to vacations, we like to relax. Cruises are perfect for relaxing.

Once you get on the cruise ship, you don’t have to make any major plans or decisions. You wake up in the morning, look at the activity schedule and pick what you do or don’t want to do.

We always cruise in the Caribbean, so we’re usually surrounded by beautiful water and scenery. There is something about being out on the water with nothing else in sight that is very relaxing.

As far as meals go, you have a few venues to choose from and many of them are included in your cruise fare. You don’t have to plan dinners or do dishes.

You can spend extra money and dine at a specialty restaurant or stick to the main dining room which serves great food, at least as good as the major restaurant chains.

When you get to port, you can take a pre-planned excursion or you can go explore the area on your own. Alternatively, you can stay on the ship and enjoy a very empty cruise ship.

One of our favorite things about cruising is the opportunity to disconnect.

While you can pay to get internet access onboard, we usually opt not to buy them. Instead, we enjoy the company of our family and relax without the constant smartphone notifications every few minutes.

Cruising Is Very Affordable

Our cruise cost us $1424.42 or $284.88 per day. For that price, we get a hotel, dining, entertainment and travel to foreign countries. I don’t know many other vacations that offer the same benefits cruising does at a similar cost.

As I mentioned earlier, cruising is made even more affordable by the fact that we use credit card rewards to pay our vacation bills.

If you’re interested in learning how to do the same, or would like my help using rewards to pay for a cruise, feel free to contact me. Do you like cruising or earning free vacations? Tell me your stories in the comments.

How Much Do You Spend On Vacations?

Carnival Cruise Trip Cost ReportVacations are one of my favorite times of the year.

I know I’m not the only person that feels that way.

If you’re lucky enough to get paid time off from work you even get a paycheck while you’re relaxing on a beach or riding the roller coasters in your favorite theme park.

The sad part is we all know that vacations aren’t free unless you win a contest or pay for your vacation with credit card sign up bonuses.

Related: Disney World Trip Cost Report

Vacations Aren’t Cheap!

Vacations can be extremely expensive if you’re not careful. Many people easily overspend on vacations to make their families happy or because the particular vacation you are on is a once in a lifetime trip.

It is easy to relax your wallet at the same time that you’re trying to escape your daily life. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen to others many times in the few vacations I’ve been on.

On our last cruise (read the 7 day cruise cost report here) we saw plenty of evidence of people overspending on vacation all within about 5 minutes of each other. We were waiting in the guest services line to ask a question and overheard two people arguing with guest services about their bills.

The Crazy Bar Tab Denial

How Much A 7 Day Carnival Cruise CostsThe first was a group of three girls in expensive clothes arguing about their bar tab. They were certain there was no way they charged $700 of drinks in just 4 days.

The funny part was it wasn’t $700 between the three of them, it was around $700 each! Insane! If I had to guess, they probably did charge the drinks and were just trying to get out of it once they saw the bill.

Maxed Out Credit Card Denial

The second example of overspending on vacation was a lady who was asking why she couldn’t charge any more money on her onboard cruise ship account. The guest services clerk had to explain that she had maxed out her credit card at her limit of $7,000.

The cruise ship representative told the cruiser that they could put cash on the card or give a different credit card to make more charges. The guest argued with the guest service clerk for a while, but eventually left without giving another card or cash for future purchases.

Take On Debt To Go On Vacation? No Thanks!

PHoneymoon Cruise Trip Cost Reportersonally, I don’t think anyone should take on debt to go on vacation. While I will charge my purchases on a credit card when I’m on vacation, I always ensure I have enough cash to pay my credit card bill in full as soon as I get home.

Plus I get rewards for money I would have spent anyway so it is a win-win for me.

So how do you determine how much to spend on vacations? It all depends on your values and how much value you place on getting away versus living your everyday life.

Personally, we put aside a set amount of money every paycheck for any vacation we’d want to take. Once we have enough money in the account we get to go on the vacation, assuming we can get the time off from work together.

I Want To Know! How Much Do You Spend On Vacation?

I am extremely curious when it comes to average vacation spending so I thought who better to ask than you!

How much do you spend on vacation? How much do you spend in dollars or a percentage of your income? What does a typical vacation include for you? Do you use a particular method to save for your vacations such as saving up credit card rewards?

Our 7 day honeymoon Carnival cruise trip cost report, Disney World cost report and 5 day Carnival cruise trip cost report show how much we spend on our vacations.

All photos by Tori.

How Much A Cheap Cruise Really Costs

First time cruising? Have you ever wondered how much a 5 day Carnival cruise really costs? I kept track of my expenses to share with you. Check out my trip report detailing our travel expenses and cruise tips on MoneyManifesto.com (Hint: It is much higher than the cruise fare you are initially quoted when shopping). Have you ever wondered how much a cruise really costs? I’m going to give you a hint.

It is much more than the list price you see when you’re looking into booking your first cruise.

I still think a cruise is a great value but you need to be prepared for all of the costs.

Here is a breakdown of all of the costs we paid on our first ever cruise.

The Cruise Ticket

The most obvious cost of the cruise is the cruise ticket itself.

Since I went on this cruise with my girlfriend (now wife) we bought two tickets.

Each room requires you to pay for the price of two tickets, at a minimum, so if you’re planning on having a room to yourself expect to pay 150-200% of the listed price per ticket.

We went for the cheapest class of stateroom which is the interior class. We didn’t plan on spending a ton of time in our room so we didn’t feel like we needed to pay money for extra space or a window.

Due to the fact that we booked early there were a few rooms available that were in the interior class but actually had two porthole windows. We definitely took advantage and booked these rooms at no extra cost above the price of a normal interior ticket.

We originally paid $279 for each ticket or $558 total. We managed to get $80 refunded to my credit card and $80 in on board credits due to the Early Saver program, which saved us $160 dollars.

This resulted in a total cost of $478 charged to my credit card for the cruise tickets themselves. After accounting for the $80 in on board credit the ticket price of our cruise was $398.

Taxes and Port Fees

You don’t get away that fast though! You’re also responsible for taxes and port fees which must be paid prior to the pay off date. I’m not sure what taxes are included as this cost wasn’t itemized.

I do know that each port you stop in charges a port fee which the cruise line passes on to their guests. Taxes and port fees totaled $84.60 each or $169.20 total for the two tickets.

Traveling To and From the Port

We saved some money in this area by traveling with my parents who were going on the cruise as well. We split the cost of gas, tolls and the hotel for the night before the cruise.

I ended up paying $60.00 in gas, $6.60 in road tolls and $62.44 for the hotel after splitting these costs with my parents.

While traveling we stopped for breakfast, lunch and dinner on the way to our hotel. We had some bad service at dinner so the general manager gave us our meal free. We still left a tip because the server was good.

We only stopped for lunch on the way home from the cruise. I spent $46.38 on food on the way to and from the cruise for both my girlfriend (now wife) and I. We spent a total of $175.42 on traveling to and from the cruise.

Arrival at the Departure Port

We arrived at the port and dropped our luggage off with the porter. It is customary to tip the porter $1 per bag so we paid him $2 for our two bags.

In addition to porter tips, my parents had to park their car. Parking at the port was $15 a day and totaled $90 for the six days the car was parked at the port.

We could have parked off site and taken a shuttle but my parents have had a bad experience with that in the past. I paid half for the parking making our port arrival costs $47.

Visiting Ports

Even though you’ve paid the port docking fees there isn’t any entertainment included in what you’ve paid for. We went on a history tour and snorkeling trip that included lunch at our first port in the Bahamas.

The excursion cost us $99 each or $198 total for the two of us. We did pay a premium as we organized the trip through Carnival Cruise Line.

The excursion came with guarantees that the ship wouldn’t leave without us if something happened on our excursion along with other nuances. We didn’t want to run into any problems as first time cruisers.

We just walked around the city in our second and third ports. We stopped in all of the various touristy shops near the port and only bought a straw fan for $6 and a souvenir t-shirt for $17 that we had planned on buying before we left on the cruise.

In total we spent $221 on in port activities. Think we’re close to being done on cruise spending? Nope, not yet!

On Board Drinks, Food and Entertainment

Our costs in this area were subsidized by my parents. They had bought us a first cruise gift package which included 4 drink tickets worth $5.75 each and a photo voucher worth $15, along with other gifts.

In addition to the $23 in drink vouchers we spent an additional $12.08 on drinks. We got off lucky compared to many of people on the ship who seemed to be constantly drinking.

Drinks cost about $7 to $11 per drink and there is a mandatory 15% gratuity charged in addition to the advertised drink prices.

On the first day of the cruise my girlfriend (now wife) won an $89 off certificate to the spa on the cruise ship.

She had always wanted a massage so she splurged for a hot stone massage that ended up costing $65 after the discount, which is probably similar to what we’d pay locally for a massage so it wasn’t a horrible deal.

We ordered room service for breakfast a few times and it is customary to tip them as well. We ended up spending $8 on room service tips.

There was a casino on board the cruise ship! I had always wanted to try playing blackjack but it was $6 a hand. I did decide to play three separate times. The first time I won $6 and the second time I won $16. Sadly, I lost the $30 I brought the third time I played.

Overall I lost $8 playing blackjack for a couple hours but I had a lot of fun. That isn’t too bad for entertainment dollars per hour. It could have been a lot worse though.

In total we spent $93.08 on board the ship for drinks, food and entertainment.

Pictures, Gifts and Other On Board Purchases

Every evening there are professional photographers begging you to let them take your picture. We decided to get a few pictures taken both on the casual and formal nights.

We ended up spending $16.99 on pictures after accounting for the $15 voucher from my parents. We figured it was cheaper than getting a professional photo session back at home.

We bought some duty and tax free alcohol at a large discount compared to the prices back home. It set us back $49.98 but saved us money as we would have eventually purchased it at home for a much higher cost. We also purchased a t-shirt for a gift that was only $4.88.

We discovered we weren’t drinking enough water so we bought a reusable water bottle for $6.50 to make sure we had water available to stay hydrated.

In total, we spent $78.35 on miscellaneous on board purchases. We did end up with a $13.96 on board credit for some reason so this brought our total down to $64.39 in this category.

Gratuities – Just When You Thought It Was Over There is More

Carnival adds gratuities on your statement on the last night of the cruise. They charge $11.50 per person per day which totaled $115.00 for us. We did pay this in advance of our cruise so we didn’t have to worry about it while we were cruising.

You don’t have to pay the gratuities if you don’t want to, but the crew do rely on them as a large part of their compensation.

If you had any problems with your service or don’t feel you should have to pay that much you can go to guest services and reduce the gratuity amount on the last day of your cruise. We had outstanding service so we didn’t adjust our gratuity payments at all.

Finally Done

That’s it! Not a short list at all. We ended up spending $1,283.09 which really isn’t that bad for a 5 day cruise. In fact, it is only $256.62 per day or $128.31 per person per day.

Related: Want to Cruise for Free? Here’s How to Use Credit Cards for Free Cruises!

When you consider the fact that you get lodging, all the food you care to eat at three decent meals a day, entertainment and the chance to visit foreign countries the price really isn’t that bad at all.

We could have easily spent double that and I’m going to venture some people spent double that on just their cruise cabin. Hopefully I’ve enlightened you to some of the other expenses on cruises so you can budget for them better for your first cruise.

If you have any questions or comments about the cost or have a cruise experience you’d like to share please leave a comment below!

Photo by: James Willamor Text added by: Lance Cothern

How To Get A Totally Free 7 Day Cruise Using Credit Cards

Want totally free vacations? Believe it or not, it's possible to get a cruise completely for free using credit cards. In fact, we've gotten two cruises basically for free! Check out our idea about exactly how to get a free vacation. This is one free vacation tip you don't want to miss out on.Last month my wife and I took a 7 day cruise completely for free.

We even spent two nights in the home port, Galveston, Texas, and visited the Pleasure Pier for free, too.

How did we do all of this?

The amazing power of credit card rewards.

How Much Our Cruise Cost Before Applying Credit Card Rewards

We got a great deal on this cruise before you even factor in credit cards.

Our 7 day Carnival Magic cruise came to a total of $1009.40 for the cruise fare, port fees, taxes and prepaid gratuities.

As part of the sale when we bought our cruise, we received $50 back in on-board credit to spend on the ship.

Of course, the cruise fare isn’t the only thing you pay for on a cruise. In addition to the fare, we spent:

  • $65 on parking,
  • $50 on miscellaneous supplies,
  • $175 on gas and dining out (not on the ship),
  • $58.43 for two all day passes to Galveston’s Pleasure Pier,
  • $3 on souvenirs in Mexico,
  • $2 in tips to the people who took our luggage,
  • $95 each ($190 total) on a behind the scenes tour of the cruise ship,
  • $78.88 in other on-board spending which came to $28.88 after our $50 on-board credit and
  • $350 estimated value of 2 nights in a hotel (free with points).

If you add all of that up, this vacation would have cost us a total of $1,931.71. Here’s how we got all of that for absolutely free.

Paying For Our Carnival Cruise Line Spending

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardWe both applied for and were approved for the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card.

After spending $3,000 on each card within three months of approval of the card, we both earned 40,000 bonus points each and 6,000 points for our purchases.

When redeemed for travel, such as a Carnival cruise purchase, these points are worth $0.01 each. This card reduced our bill by $920 and left us with $1,011.71 to go.

citi thankyou premierNext, my wife signed up for the Citi Thank You Premier credit card. Currently, you can earn 50,000 ThankYou points for spending $3,000 in the first three months after approval.

We used 30,000 points to get $300 in Carnival gift cards which covered all but $8.28 of our cruise ship spending.

We also have 20,000 ThankYou points left over which can get us another $200 in gift cards to places like WalMart, Home Depot, Lowe’s or more Carnival gift cards for a future cruise.

In total, we still had $711.71 of spending to cover with other credit card rewards.

Paying For Our Hotel

Next, we used 14,000 points to pay for our two night stay at the Sheraton Four Points on Galveston Island.

This hotel was in a prime location, right across from the seawall on the Gulf of Mexico. We could see both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pleasure Pier from our room which was pretty sweet.

SPG_Card_ArtFor this, we signed up for the Starwood Guest Preferred card by American Express. Currently, this credit card offers 25,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 within the first 3 months after approval.

After the spending, you’ll have at least 28,000 points which would have paid for our room twice over.

The estimated cost to book the room for the weekend would have been about $350, so now we only have $361.71 left to pay for with credit card rewards.

Paying For Miscellaneous Costs

chase_sapphire_preferred_credit_card_sign_up_bonusFinally, my wife signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card to pay for our miscellaneous expenses that we couldn’t get gift cards for or didn’t qualify as travel spending.

Currently, you can earn 40,000 Ultimate Reward points by spending $4,000 in the first three months after approval. Ultimate Reward points can be cashed out at $0.01 a piece which more than covered our remaining $361.71 in expenses.

We could have used these rewards in a more optimal way, but we didn’t have any other plans so we just cashed them out.

A Summary Of The Credit Cards We Signed Up For

In total, we signed up for 5 credit cards over about a year to pay for our free cruise.

Based on the credit card sign up bonus offers as they stand today, we would have had to spend $16,000 on these credit cards to earn enough rewards.

Honestly, that’s not too difficult for us over the period of a year when you consider everyday spending (car insurance, cable bills, and groceries among others) along with any projects you may have done over the last year.

Additionally, we could have used our cruise spending to go toward some of these spending requirements for our bonuses, or toward our next bonuses.

A Summary Of Our Credit Card Rewards We Earned

These credit cards covered every penny of our $1,931.71 vacation and we had the following rewards left over:

  • 14,000 Starwood points (redeemable for multiple free hotel nights),
  • 20,000 ThankYou points worth at least $200 in free gift cards and
  • 7,829 Ultimate Rewards points worth at least $78.29 in cash.

You Could Spend More On Your Cruise

Your cruise may very well cost more than ours did, but luckily there are plenty of other credit card sign up bonuses you could earn to offset those costs.

We got a steal of a deal on the cruise fare itself. We only paid for an inside cabin, so if you want an ocean view, balcony or suite room, you’ll have to pay more.

We didn’t spend a ton of money on excursions in our ports and mainly just hung out around the ship, because we have an amazing beach at home. We didn’t spend hundreds of dollars on $10 drinks and we ate in the free dining rooms which are great by our standards.

Finally, we didn’t gamble more than $20 during the whole cruise in the casino. So, if you want to spend more on your cruise, you can do the following to earn even more credit card rewards.

Other Credit Card Rewards You Can Use For Cruises

Other cards can help you pay for a cruise. Here are a couple other my other favorites.

barclay arrival plusThe Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard sign up bonus of 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in 90 days after approval can be redeemed for $400 in travel expenses, including cruises.

When you count the points earned from $3,000 in spending, you’ll have $460 in travel credit. If your spouses or significant other hasn’t signed up for the card yet, either, you can add another $920 toward your cruise.

bankamericard-travel-rewards-credit-card-tiltedAn easier card to earn points for is the BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card. You can earn a bonus of 20,000 points worth $200 in travel for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days after approval.

This can be doubled to $400 with two applicants. Plus there is no annual fee with this card so you never have to cancel it.

Overall, there are a ton of different ways you can earn a free cruise using credit card sign up bonuses. However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to just cruises. Many of these credit cards can be used for other vacations, too.

Will you be using your credit card rewards for a free cruise in the future? What about another type of vacation? If you are already earning rewards, what’s the best free vacation you’ve taken so far? Let me know in the comments below.

Disclaimers: Don’t use credit cards for rewards unless you’re really on top of your game. You’ll need to make sure you never charge more than you can afford to pay off, you never make late payments and you never pay a penny in interest to make these credit cards worth it.

Additionally, many of these cards carry an annual fee that is waived the first year. Make sure you reevaluate every card to make sure they provide enough value to pay for the annual fee past the first year of the card.

Photo by: Kabacchi Text added by: Lance Cothern

Have Times Changed? Who Should Pay For A Date?

who should pay for date nightToday’s post is a blast from the past from Cat Alford.

Last week, we had such a good debate about who should pay for a wedding that I thought “Who Should Pay For A Date?” would be an equally relevant topic to chat about.

I admit; I didn’t have a lot of dating experience when I met my husband.

He likes to say he swept me off my feet (leading me to never date anyone else), and he was really the first very serious relationship I ever had.

Before him, I went to high school dances with other boys, and they always paid for my meal.

However, that’s definitely a special occasion, and their moms probably made sure they paid for me (or else!)

Dating an adult is different though and so a new set of rules might apply. Of course, based on my very limited experience, all I know is that my husband did pay for my meals when we first started dating, but as we got to know each other better, we split checks.

Reasons Why He Should Pay

Here are a few situations, which I think would merit a man paying for the date:

  1. He extended the invitation.
  2. He wants to show he has good, old-fashioned manners.
  3. He wants to show he can take care of his date.
  4. He enjoys treating someone else.
  5. His mom would kill him if she found out he didn’t pay.

Reasons Why She Should Pay

Here are a few situations where a woman might want to pay:

  1. She extended the invitation.
  2. She wants to show that she is independent.
  3. She wants to contribute to the relationship.
  4. She is showing him one of her favorite restaurants, and the date was her idea.
  5. She knows the date would be a stretch for him financially and she wants to help out.

Reasons Why They Should Split The Bill

Lastly, here are some reasons where a couple on a date might want to split the bill:

  1. They want to show that they both care about each other’s well being.
  2. They want to establish a strong, equal partnership.
  3. They aren’t concerned with “traditional” manners and prefer a more modern approach to dating.
  4. They both make good incomes, and so there is no reason why one should pay for the entire meal.

Of course, I’m sure there are many other reasons why people would insist on the man paying for a date or insist that couples split a bill. If that’s the case, I’d love to hear your opinions in the comment section below.

Like I said; I don’t have an extensive dating history, and I’m interested to see how other couples navigated the tricky battlefield of dating in the 21st century.

**Lance’s Two Cents** I don’t have a ton of experience here either! I was lucky and didn’t have to date a lot to find the right person. I think the first couple of date’s the guy should pay, unless the woman was the one who asked the guy out in which case I think splitting the check might be an option.

Other than that, after a few dates I don’t see why people couldn’t talk about it if things are going well. Chances are it would come up after a few dates I would think.

What do you think? Who should pay for a date? Do the circumstances matter, or should there be a strict rule that is followed? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I have a feeling this could be a fun discussion.

Photo by: oliviavaughn Text added by: Lance Cothern