Attending Super Bowl LI With Barclaycard NFL Extra Points
Every month, TPG updates his points and miles valuations to give you an idea of how much each currency is worth toward travel and other redemptions. But the NFL Extra Points credit card from Barclaycard turns this equation upside down by letting you redeem your points for experiences that you just can't buy at any price.
For the last four days, I've been in Houston, experiencing the Super Bowl and many of its surrounding events, along with some of Barclaycard's NFL Extra Points cardholders. Last night, the experience culminated when we witnessed the New England Patriots become the first Super Bowl champions to win in overtime.
How the NFL Extra Points Credit Card Works
While the NFL Extra Points card is not a travel rewards credit card, its rewards program will be familiar to you if you use airline and hotel credit cards. You earn 1 point per dollar spent on most purchases, and double points on all NFL purchases including eligible NFL tickets and in-stadium purchases, as well as charges made at NFLShop.com and at team pro shops. In addition, new applicants can earn 10,000 bonus points when they spend $500 within 90 days of account opening. Other benefits include 20% off NFL Shop purchases and six months of 0% APR financing on ticket purchases from the NFL. There's no annual fee for this card.
So far, this sounds like a standard rewards card, but the unique awards that you can redeem your points for make this particular product really special. The Extra Points rewards program allows each of the 32 NFL teams to offer their own unique experiences that are customized for their own fans. Awards include merchandise, pre-game sideline passes, admission to post-game press conferences and tickets to watch your team practice.
Furthermore, each team makes a variety of game tickets available to cardholders, starting at 25,000 points for two regular-season tickets. Finally, Barclaycard and the NFL make a limited number of tickets available for playoff games and the Super Bowl to cardholders every year. These tickets sell out quickly, but I met many cardholders who have been able to redeem their points for Super Bowl tickets for several years.
This year, cardmembers were offered the chance to redeem their points for three different Super Bowl ticket packages:
- 175,000 points for two upper-level tickets
- 225,000 points for two mid-level tickets
- 275,000 points for two premium-level tickets
In addition, cardmembers could redeem another 150,000 points for a three-night stay at the Marriott Houston Medical Center. This was a good option for those coming from out of town, since most hotels in the Houston area had been reserved by the NFL and its sponsors long ago.
Points can also be redeemed for 1 cent each as cash back, but as you'll see, the real value of this rewards program is the access to exclusive events.
How NFL Extra Points Cardholders Experienced Super Bowl LI
When Barclaycard invited me to experience the Super Bowl from the perspective of its cardholders, I was understandably excited. I would have been happy to receive a ticket to a "nose-bleed" seat, and nothing else. Instead, I was invited to cover a full range of events, along with 106 cardholders who redeemed their points for tickets to the Super Bowl and other experiences.
The NFL Players Association VIP Party
On the Thursday before the Super Bowl, the NFL Players Association gathered at Houston's Museum of Fine Arts for a VIP party. Dozens of players were in attendance, as well as every variety of distinguished guests. NFL Extra Points cardholders in attendance redeemed 50,000 points for this exclusive party.
Cardholders were invited to attend an even more exclusive reception where they could mingle with featured guests such as San Francisco 49ers receiver Torrey Smith, Texans defensive back Kareem Jackson, NFL Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks and Team USA women's soccer star Ali Krieger.
Following the cardholder reception, we proceeded to the main party, where I felt like a midget among the numerous current and former NFL players who dwarfed me in size. Notable players attending the event included Barry Sanders, Ezekiel Elliot, Carson Wentz, Adam Vinatieri, Travis Kelce and Jerome Bettis. I met not just former players, but NFLPA employees, and guests who had worked with charity foundations related to the NFL.
I was even fortunate enough to spend 15 minutes chatting with astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly, who attended along with Mark Kelly's wife, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. These identical twins are the only two brothers who have ever traveled into space, and both now travel around the world (within earth's atmosphere) as part of their career as public speakers. And to my surprise, they were more interested in discussing credit cards with me than either aviation or space travel.
The NFL Experience
The NFL Experience is an enormous attraction for football fans that took place within the Houston convention center. There, fans could learn about the history of professional football and the Super Bowl, while having a chance to practice catching a pass, or take a picture that appears to be in the uniform of their favorite team. And appropriately enough, holders of the Barclaycard NFL Extra Points card were invited to take turns kicking a field goal through uprights set up in the convention center, an experience that was free for cardholders.
On the Friday before the Super Bowl, cardmembers got to view famed place-kicker Adam Vinatieri attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the number of field goals kicked in a minute. Cardmembers who had redeemed their points for Super Bowl tickets were allowed onto the field before the event to receive a quick lesson on field goal kicking from the master himself. Vinatieri has been on the winning side of four of the five Super Bowls he's appeared in and scored game-winning kicks in the final seconds of two of them. And at 44, he's the oldest active player in the NFL.
In the end, Vinatieri was able to kick 28 field goals in 60 seconds, and his record-breaking performance earned a $15,000 donation from Barclaycard to the Pat Tillman Foundation, which offers college scholarships to military veterans. Barclaycard even went beyond its commitment to this effort by surprising US Air Force veteran and Pat Tillman scholar John Van Horn with a ticket to the Super Bowl.
Cardmember Brunch With Warren Moon
On the Saturday before the Super Bowl, Barclaycard NFL Extra Points cardmembers were treated to a brunch at the Houston Marriott Medical Center, with guest of honor NFL Hall of Fame member Warren Moon.
And if that wasn't enough, the brunch was over-the-top, featuring crab legs and claws, shrimp, crawfish and other delicacies. Again, this wasn't an award that you have to redeem more points for; it was just another way for Barclaycard to say thank you to customers who redeemed points for the Super Bowl.
Taste of the NFL
On the night before the Super Bowl, I was invited to cover the Taste of the NFL, which is billed as "A Party With A Purpose." The purpose of the event was to raise money to fight hunger in the United States. And although this event was not sponsored by Barclaycard, it's a great example of the kind of festivities that occur all over the city in the week before the big game.
Each NFL city was represented with both a top local chef and a former NFL player. For example, Denver was represented Broncos great Karl Mecklenburg and by Chef Troy Guard of the TAG Restaurant group. The entertainment for the evening was The Band Perry.
Taste of the NFL’s Party with a Purpose claims to be the single most successful charitable event at the Super Bowl, with 100% of the proceeds going to support food banks and food pantries in the 32 NFL cities. To date, the organization has raised over 25 million dollars, which has provided over 200 million meals.
Super Bowl LI
At Saturday's brunch, we received our "golden ticket" to the Super Bowl, and treated it like it was made of gold. In the spirit of the entire week, cardmembers were not on their own to get to the game, rather they were provided a bus that even had a police escort.
We boarded the bus at 2:00pm on Sunday for the game that started at 6:30pm. We arrived in plenty of time to take in all of the sights and sounds that make the Super Bowl an incredible event. I was fortunate enough to have a seat in the end zone just behind the Fox Sports set, next to cardmembers who had redeemed 275,000 points for the premium seat package. All of us had an amazing time, even those whose team didn't come away victorious. Regardless of which side you were rooting for, it was unbelievable to watch both the first overtime and the greatest comeback win in Super Bowl history.
There are two ways to value a rewards credit card. One is to place a value (usually in cents) on each point or mile redeemed relative to the worth of the of the goods or services received, as determined by its sales price.
But every NFL Extra Points cardholder I spoke to last week had a different way of calculating the value of their credit card rewards. These football fans were thrilled to redeem their credit card rewards not for something that was valuable, but for something that's invaluable. Like the cardholders I met at the Emmys last year, these are individuals who value a once-in-a-lifetime experience more than a business-class airline ticket or an award night in a luxury hotel. In fact, many had redeemed their points to attend multiple Super Bowls and other unique NFL experiences. Some were even reluctant to have me share the value of this card, as they felt like it was their own well-kept secret.
I know many travel rewards enthusiasts who have flown around the world in business and first class, and stayed in the finest hotels. But if you're a football fan, there's no greater reward than a ticket to the Super Bowl and the chance to attend some of its surrounding events.
Have you ever redeemed Extra Points rewards to attend the Super Bowl?