Yehuda and Shira stood happily under the chuppah, ready to do kiddushin. Yehuda held the ring and was about to give it to his kallah.
The mesader kiddushin Rabbi Reiss asked Yehuda: “Is the ring yours?”
“Yes,” answered Yehuda.
“Did you buy it with your own money?” Rabbi Reiss asked.
“Yes, I used my own credit card,” Yehuda replied.
Rabbi Reiss paused for a moment, contemplating. “OK…,” he said.
He then asked the witnesses: “Is the ring worth a perutah?”
“Yes,” they answered.
Having completed his verification, Rabbi Reiss instructed Yehuda to say: “Harei at mekudeshes li,” and place the ring on his kallah’s finger. Yehuda did so, and Rabbi Reiss declared: “Mekudeshes, mekudeshes!”
After the chuppah was over, people headed to the seudah. Rabbi Dayan met the kallah’s father, Rabbi Etan, and wished him a hearty “Mazel tov!”
“Thank you,” replied Rabbi Etan. “May we be zocheh to continue sharing simchos!”
“Amen,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “I give my heartfelt bracha to the new couple, Yehuda and Shira, that they merit building a bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael!”
“Amen!!” replied Rabbi Etan. “I’d like to ask you something, though.”
“Certainly,” said Rabbi Dayan.
“Rabbi Reiss is a highly knowledgeable Torah scholar,” said Rabbi Etan. “I noticed that he paused when Yehuda said that he bought the ring with his credit card, and then carried on. Why did Rabbi Reiss pause?”
“Is there some issue with buying the wedding ring with a credit card?”
“The chassan must give the kallah monetary value, customarily a ring, for the kiddushin,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “We generally require that the ring be his, and aspire that the kiddushin be valid both mid’Oraysa and mid’Rabbanan.”
“Shulchan Aruch rules like Rabban Yochanan (Kiddushin 26a; B.M. 47b) that by Torah law, payment of money consummates the transaction, but the Sages required that the buyer make another kinyan, such as taking the item – meshichah. There is a dispute over what consummates the transaction when buying movable items from a non-Jew” (C.M. 198:1; Rama 194:3; Shach 194:1).
“It is questionable whether using a credit card constitutes payment of money, especially if the payment was not yet transferred by the credit company to the vendor” (see Mishpatecha L’Yaakov 2:13).
“Therefore, the chassan should preferably pay for the wedding ring with cash (or, possibly, a personal check), to clearly establish his full ownership of it, through both paying money and taking it from the store” (Hanisuin K’hilchasam 7:16; Pischei Choshen, Kinyanim 3:).
“Machaneh Ephraim (Kinyan Meshichah #2) addresses the question: If the chassan did not pay yet for the ring, but took it through kinyan meshichah or hagbaha, which are binding only mid’Rabbanan, are the kiddushin nonetheless valid also mid’Oraysa?
“He cites from Beis Yosef (E.H. 28), who discusses whether transactions that the Sages authorized can subsequently be used to effect a Torah kinyan (e.g., kiddushin, mechiras chometz or bechor). Perhaps, once the Sages awarded the purchased item to the buyer – it becomes his mid’Oraysa, since the Sages have authority to revoke the vendor’s ownership – hefker beis din hefker.
“Avnei Miluim (E.H. 28:33) writes that if the chassan did not purchase the ring with money, the kallah would be considered mekudeshes only mid’Rabbanan. However, others maintain that she is mekudeshes also mid’Oraysa, because of hefker beis din hefker or for other reasons” (see Meshovev Nesivos 72:30; Noda B’Yehuda, E.H. 2:54; Otzar Haposkim 28:1:1:13 citing Binyan Olam, Y.D. 59).
“Additionally, a credit card, even if not actual payment, could be tantamount to paying money since it transfers responsibility of payment (himcheihu etzel chenvani or zakaf alav b’milvah). It is also likely considered situmta – commercial practice, which, according to some authorities, acquires mid’Oraysa” (Pischei Teshuvah 201:1; Pischei Choshen, Kinyanim 2:).
“That is why Rabbi Reiss paused,” explained Rabbi Dayan. “There is an issue, but he concluded that the ring is acceptable for kiddushin.”
Verdict: Preferably, the chassan should buy the wedding ring with cash. However, if he used a credit card the kiddushin are valid, certainly mid’Rabbanan, and, according to many authorities, also mid’Oraysa.