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How to prepare your finances for the flood 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.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has an 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, and $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, plus more.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    21.49% - 28.49% 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 (see rates and fees).

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 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

  • Rewards

    Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, up to 6 months of complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $39

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    30.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    $0 at the Transfer APR, 4% of the amount of each transferred balance that posts to your account at a promotional APR that Capital One may offer to you

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Average, Fair, or Limited

See rates and fees, terms apply.

Pros

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
  • Redeem cash back at anytime and for any amount
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $39 annual fee
  • High variable APR
  • No welcome bonus

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 0.35% 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 Savings Account

Ally Bank is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    4.35% APY

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    Unlimited withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

  • Excessive transactions fee

    $10 per transaction

  • Overdraft fee

    None

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes, if have an Ally checking account

  • Terms apply.

Pros

  • Strong APY
  • No minimum balance or deposit
  • No monthly fees
  • Unlimited withdrawals or transfers
  • Option to add a checking account with ATM access

Cons

  • Higher APYs offered elsewhere
  • $10 excessive transactions 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 (see rates and fees), 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 PayPal 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, new cardholders can earn 5 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

  • Rewards

    Earn 3X points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations, and dining; 1 Elite Night Credit towards Elite Status for every $5,000 spent; earn up to 17X total points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card, and 2X points for every $1 spent on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Limited time offer! Earn 5 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases.

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    21.49% - 28.49% 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. Your points don't expire as long as you make purchases on your card every 24 months.

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply. Information about the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

For another big offer on hotels, new applicants signing up for the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card can qualify to earn a welcome bonus of 165,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn up to 26 total points per $1 spent when you stay at IHG Hotels & Resorts, 5 points per $1 spent on purchases on travel, at gas stations, and restaurants, 3 points per $1 spent on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    •Limited Time Offer! Earn 165,000 Bonus Points

  • Annual fee

    $99

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    21.49% - 28.49% 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 2X miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting, plus 1X mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

New cardmembers can also benefit from a welcome bonus of 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases. (then 21.99% - 28.99% variable).

United Gateway℠ Card

On Chase's secured site
  • Rewards

    Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting; 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases. Learn more.

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases.

  • Regular APR

    21.99% - 28.99% Variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fees

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Member FDIC. 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 on gas purchases at the pump, 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

On PenFed's secure site
  • Rewards

    5X points on gas purchases at the pump and electrical vehicle charging stations, 3X points on supermarket purchases, 1X point on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    15,000 points when you spend $1,500 in the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% introductory APR for 12 months on balance transfers made in the first 90 days after account opening.*

  • Regular APR

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

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

Terms apply.

Pros

  • High 5X points on gas at the pump and 3X on supermarket purchases
  • 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.

*0% introductory APR for 12 months on balance transfers made in the first 90 days after account opening. After that, the APR for the unpaid balance and any new balance transfers will be a non-variable rate of 17.99%. 3% balance transfer fee per transaction. Subject to credit approval. If you take advantage of this balance transfer, you will immediately be charged interest on all purchases made with your credit card unless you pay the entire account balance, including balance transfers, in full each month by the payment due date.

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 Ally Online Savings Account has been collected independently by Select 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 Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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