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Advice

How to prepare your finances for the floodgate of 2021 weddings

With so many weddings being pushed back due to the pandemic, you should prepare now in order to get ahead on savings. Here's how to save money during the sure-to-be hectic 2021 wedding season.

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According to a new study by wedding planning website Zola, 63% of couples are postponing their weddings by one year or more from their original date as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

And the change in timelines isn't just affecting the bride and groom. If you were planning to attend a wedding in 2020, you've probably already had to shift your plans to 2021. Lots of couples (24% according to Zola's study) plan on tying the knot in 2020 and having their reception later, but a good portion (38%) are delaying their entire wedding until things calm down.

Between the "catch up" weddings postponed from 2020, and the 2021 weddings proceeding as planned, it's time to prepare for your budget to take a hit as next year's calendar fills up with bridal showers, bachelorette/bachelor parties and/or out-of-town receptions.

But there's an added glitch: No matter how far in advance you plan, you should also stay flexible given the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and whether it will be safe to gather in groups by the spring or even next fall.

With so many things up in the air, it's important to make a plan now as to how you'll save for upcoming costs so you aren't left scrambling when invitations arrive. Below, we've got the scoop on how to prepare your finances and save money during the sure-to-be hectic 2021 wedding season.

Look into rewards cards with bonuses

No matter how you spend your money on, a rewards credit card can help you earn cash back and/or points to cover some of your wedding costs.

Major card issuers, including Amex, Chase and Capital One, have recently increased their welcome bonuses.

Right now, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® comes with a massive 80,000-point welcome bonus for new cardholders who spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That's 20,000 more points than the previous offer, and worth up to $1,000 toward travel when booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

This offer is the highest offer ever for the Preferred card. It's only running for a limited time, though the end date has not yet been announced.

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Chase Sapphire Preferred®
On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 2X points on travel and dining worldwide, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening — worth up to $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 22.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

 

You need to have good to excellent credit to qualify for most rewards cards, particularly ones that offer no-interest periods. For those with fair or average credit, consider the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card.

With the QuicksilverOne, cardholders can earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no limit on the amount of cash back you can earn. This card has a $39 annual fee, but the average American can earn enough to offset it.

The QuicksilverOne charges no foreign transaction fees (great for destination weddings) and comes with travel accident insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver and 24-hour travel assistance services.

You can take advantage of the time between now and the upcoming wedding season to make everyday purchases with your card and earn cash back. That way, you'll have plenty to cash in as a statement credit to cover any wedding-related travel costs.

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Information about the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    1.5% cash back on all purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $39

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    26.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    None

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Good/Fair

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Redeem cash back at anytime and for any amount
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Access a higher credit limit after making your first five monthly payments on time

Cons

  • $39 annual fee
  • 26.99% variable APR
  • No welcome bonus
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $293
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $1,464

Don't miss: Here are nine cards with welcome bonuses of100,000+ points. 

Start a savings bucket for weddings

Now is a good time to start stashing away extra cash so you can be ready for what 2021 brings. You can use your current savings account or a new account designated just for wedding season.

The Ally Online Savings Account is a good choice for when you want to create separate savings "buckets" all within one savings account. If you have more than one wedding to budget for, you can make up to 10 different funds, all labeled and easy to keep track of.

High-yield savings accounts earn you more than a traditional savings account would, since the interest rates are a lot higher than the 0.05% average for more traditional savings accounts. APY for high-yield accounts are on the lower side right now, but when the economy is stronger, APY is known to rise to close to 2%.

Ally Bank Online Savings Account

Ally Bank Online Savings Account
On Ally Bank's secure site
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.60%

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle *The 6/statement cycle withdrawal limit is waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D

  • Excessive transactions fee

    $10 per transaction

  • Overdraft fees

    $25

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes, if have an Ally checking account

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Strong annual percentage yield on all balance tiers
  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly fees
  • Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle*
  • Option to add a checking account
  • ATM access if you have a checking account

Cons

  • $10 fee per transaction if you make more than 6 in a statement cycle
  • $25 overdraft fee

Sign up for airline alerts

Whether you have a co-branded airline credit card, such as any one of the seven Delta SkyMiles Amex cards, or you jump from airline to airline and pay with general travel card like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, sign up for alerts to track when prices drop.

There are a few ways to get alerts: Apps like Skyscanner or Skiplagged help you track and find low-cost flights, whereas newsletters like Scott's Cheap Flights send out regular announcements when fares dip. You can also set an alert on travel aggregate sites like Kayak.com or Hotwire.com.

Install a coupon app or browser extension

The popular browser coupon extension Honey can save you big when it comes to wedding gift shopping. When you're checking out at nearly any online store, Honey automatically scans the web for coupon and promo codes and finds you the best savings before you click "Buy." The service is free, and you can even earn Honey rewards in the form of cash back on purchases over time.

The social app, Fluz, lets you share deals with friends and earn cash back on what you buy.

Other services include Rakuten, which is like Honey but features rotating cash-back offers; Pricescout, which comparison shops to find you the best price; Gumdrop by Goodshop which helps you locate deals and donates a portion of eligible purchases to a school or nonprofit; and Coupon Cabin, which gives you price-saving tips based on your Google searches. (These extensions are compatible with Google Chrome.)

Sign up for an airline and/or hotel credit card

The average cost of attending a wedding is $430, according to a 2019 study by The Knot, and as much as $1,440 for out-of-town weddings requiring a flight.

That's where signing up for a hotel or airline credit card with a loyalty program can save you big.

With Chase's current welcome bonus for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, you can earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 6X points for every $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy™ hotels and 2X points everywhere else

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 22.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

For another new monster offer on hotels, check out Chase's new welcome bonus offer on its two IHG cards.

New applicants signing up for the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card can qualify to earn a welcome bonus worth 140,000 points, and customers signing up for the IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card can qualify to earn a welcome bonus worth 100,000 points.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Up to 25X points total per dollar at IHG® (earn 10X points per $1 spent at IHG® hotels as a cardholder, plus 10X base points as an IHG® Rewards Club member and 5X points with Platinum Elite Status, which comes as a benefit of this card); 2X points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants; 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    140,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $89, waived the first year

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 22.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

 

IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card
On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Up to 15X points total per $1 at IHG® (earn 5X points per $1 spent at IHG® hotels as a cardholder, plus 10X base points as an IHG® Rewards Club member); 2X points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants; 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    100,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 22.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

 

For airline miles, consider the new, no-annual-fee card United Gateway℠ Card, which earns you 3X miles on grocery purchases on up to $1,500 in eligible purchases per month until September 30, 2021; 2X miles on United purchases; 2X miles at gas stations; 2X miles on local transit and commuting and1X mile on all other purchases

New cardmembers can also benefit from a limited-time welcome bonus of 20,000 MileagePlus miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months from account opening.

United Gateway℠ Card

 United Gateway℠ Card
On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    3X miles on grocery purchases until September 30, 2021; 2X miles on United purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting; 1X mile on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 20,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    16.49% to 23.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fees

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

 

Save on gasoline

Another option is road-tripping to out-of-town weddings, and there are plenty of great rewards cards to save on gas.

The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card currently offers the highest rewards rate at gas stations with 5X points per dollar spent, and if you maximize the rewards you earn, the average American can save up to $111 annually on gas purchases alone.

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card
On PenFed's secure site
  • Rewards

    5X points on gas, 3X points on groceries, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% promotional rate for the first 12 months on balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    13.49% to 17.99% variable on purchases; 17.99% non-variable on balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • High 5X points on gas at the pump and 3X on groceries
  • No bonus category activations
  • Good special financing offer on balance transfers

Cons

  • 3% balance transfer fee
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $513
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,167

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus.

You can also check out travel cards with no annual fee, such as the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card, which delivers 3X points on gasoline spending.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
Information about the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    3X points on gas, dining out and ordering in; rideshares and transit; flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals; and popular streaming services; 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases and balance transfers

  • Variable APR

    15.49% to 27.49%

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year

    $672*

  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years

    $2,159

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Strong rewards program with 3X points in a wide range of categories
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • No blackout dates on air travel when redeemed through Go Far Rewards

Cons

  • You must have a rewards balance of at least 2,500 points before you can start redeeming them
  • Balance transfers incur a 3% fee ($5 minimum)
  • American Express isn’t as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard

Who's this for? The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card has a strong rewards program for a no annual fee card: Earn unlimited 3X points on gas, dining out and ordering in; rideshares and transit; flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals; and popular streaming services; plus 1X point on all other purchases.

This card is a smart choice for all types of travelers, whether you like to fly, drive or take mass-transit. And this card not only gives you 3X points at gas stations but also on purchases at toll bridges and highways, parking lots and garages. And you earn a competitive 3X points on restaurants and take out, which is great while you're traveling. When you're ready to relax, you can enjoy 3X points on select streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu.

Wells Fargo makes it easy to redeem points for cash, gift cards or travel. There are no black-out dates when you make reservations through Go Far Rewards, but you can't start redeeming points until you've earned 2,500.

In addition to rewards, this card offers no interest on purchases and balance transfers for a full year (then 15.49% to 27.49% variable APR). If you have large upcoming expenses or debt on a non-Amex card, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card provides a way to finance new and old debt without incurring interest charges. Balance transfers are charged a 3% fee, $5 minimum.

There's also cell phone protection for damage to or theft of your phone up to $600 per claim and $1,200 per 12-month period ($25 deductible applies and you must pay your bill with your Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card).

*First year rewards total incorporates the points earned from the welcome bonus

Check out our full list of best gas rewards credit cards.

Bottom line

While next spring's wedding season is shaping up to be a wild ride, there are still ways to save on your expenses. Plan ahead and take advantage of our tips above, whether you plan to travel to weddings this spring or celebrate your loved ones on Zoom.

Don't miss: I taught my bridesmaids how to travel hack my bachelorette party using credit cards

Information about the Capital One® cards, Ally Online Savings Account, and Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.