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Valentine's Day Spending Is Set to Jump, Even If It Means More Credit Card Debt

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  • Consumers are prepared to spend big this Feb. 14, even if it means going into credit card debt, several studies show.
  • However, there are ways to celebrate the holiday that don't blow the budget.
  • Here's advice from experts on how to save money without skimping on sentiment.

Being in love will cost you.

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Valentine's Day spending is expected to reach $25.9 billion in 2023, one of the highest-spending years on record, according to the National Retail Federation.

This year, Americans will shell out $192.80, on average, on candy, cards, flowers and other gifts for friends, loved ones, classmates and even coworkers, the report found, up from $175.41 in 2022.

Those in a relationship will spend roughly $187 for their significant other, according to a separate LendingTree survey of more than 2,000 adults.

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That's despite the fact that many Americans are already going into more debt just to afford their day-to-day expenses as prices rise.

Yet, 27% of couples said they will need to rely on credit cards to cover Valentine's Day costs and, for most of them, it will take at least two months to pay it off, LendingTree also found.

Almost 1 in 5 Americans think a Valentine's Day gift is worth the credit card debt, according to another report by WalletHub.  

Inflation is notoriously at its worst on Feb. 14. A dozen roses, for example, can cost around $100 on Valentine's Day, particularly if they are imported. A heart-shaped box of chocolates and, of course, jewelry are also marked up ahead of the holiday.

Meanwhile, credit card debt and credit card annual percentage rates are already at record highs, making any added debt even harder to pay off.

"It's always important to be careful about what you are spending on but especially when interest rates are as high as they've ever been," said LendingTree's chief credit analyst Matt Schulz.

"The good news with Valentine's Day is that there are so many creative things you can do that don't cost you any money that can be a really big hit," he added.

How to save money on Valentine's Day

Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with DealNews, also offers these tips to spend less on Feb. 14:

  • Think outside the box. Part of the reason Valentine's Day gifts are so expensive is because things such as flowers and jewelry jump in price closer to the holiday. If you want to go the traditional route, make adjustments without cutting corners, she said. For example, rather than buying a dozen roses choose a bouquet made up of blooms of your valentine's favorite color or forgo the heart-shaped pendant and pick a special piece with a birthstone instead.
  • Do a DIY date night. Skip the expensive dinner out and make a special meal at home, Ramhold advised. You can even plan the menu, shop and cook together. This may take more effort up front, but the result could be less expensive and more meaningful, she said.
  • Postpone your celebration. Starting on Feb. 15, everything related to Valentine's Day will be significantly marked down, so consider celebrating the following weekend. However, the selection will be smaller so if there's something specific you are shopping for, it may not pay to wait, Ramhold said.
  • Create your own gift package. Instead of an entire bouquet of red roses, choose one or two and pair them with a favorite treat for your valentine, whether that's Reese's peanut butter cups or even a savory snack. "As long as it's something you know they like, you'll show the thought you put into the gift, and you can't go wrong."
  • Embrace the middle-school aesthetic. Pair a stuffed animal with a Spotify playlist just for them. This is a good way to show your feelings without going over the top, especially for new couples who may be uncomfortable with grand gestures, Ramhold said.  

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