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The best credit cards for sports fans

Sept. 19, 2021
13 min read
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As a self-proclaimed sports fanatic, travel rewards credit cards were the focal point of my strategy to visit all 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) ballparks and save considerably on flights and hotels. I accomplished this personal bucket list in 2017 and it wouldn’t have been possible without the points and miles I earned from some top credit cards.

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Most rewards cards aren’t tailor-made for sports fans. In fact, just one major card issuer offers a rewards category explicitly for sporting event ticket purchases. That said, several major sports leagues offer cobranded credit cards for fans to show off their team loyalty — and potentially earn extra rewards on ticket purchases. Furthermore, some cards — particularly premium travel rewards cards — will even offer exclusive VIP access for select cardholders at sporting events.

With several major sports leagues back in the fold, let’s take a look at the top cards for sports fanatics in more detail.

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Annual fee: None

Rewards rate: Cardholders can earn 8% cash back when purchasing event tickets — including the NFL, the NBA, the NHL and Major League Baseball. Also, earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services, and grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target), plus 1% on other eligible purchases.

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Keep in mind: The Capital One SavorOne and its elder sibling, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, are the only two cards that feature generous earning rates (8% return) on sporting event ticket purchases through Vivid Seats.

Check out the Capital One SavorOne card review for more details.

Related: New permanent category bonuses added to 2 Capital One cards

Apply here: Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

The information for the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Ink Business Cash Credit Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months after account opening.

Annual fee: None

Rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 you make in combined purchases each account anniversary year at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services (1% thereafter). Plus, you’ll earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 you make in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year (1% thereafter on eligible purchases).

Keep in mind: Office supply stores such as OfficeMax, Office Depot and Staples carry gift cards from StubHub — the world’s largest ticket marketplace. That means you can earn 5% cash back by purchasing StubHub gift cards at an office supply store. You can then use the gift cards on StubHub to book your sporting event tickets.

If you have an Ultimate Rewards card — Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Ink Business Preferred Credit Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve — you can transfer the cash back earned on the Ink Cash to any of those three cards. This, in essence, converts the points to more valuable Ultimate Rewards points, opening up a plethora of additional redemption options.

You may also be able to purchase StubHub and other sporting-related gift cards at your nearest grocery store and earn extra bonus points or cash back by using the right credit card.

Related: Ink Business Cash Card review

Apply here: Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card

NFL Extra Points Credit Card

(Screenshot courtesy of NFLShop.com)

Sign-up bonus: Earn 10,000 bonus points after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Annual fee: None

Rewards rate: Earn 2x on NFL and Team purchases and 1x on all other purchases.

Keep in mind: While this card may be a niche choice for some, a 2021 Sports Show survey illustrates the NFL’s dominance as the most-watched sport in the U.S. If you’re a die-hard fan of an NFL team and are tuned in on Sundays (and Thursdays and Mondays), the NFL Extra Points Credit Card rewards you for your fandom.

Cardholders can redeem points for cash back or a statement credit, NFL gift cards, or even unique NFL and team experiences like meet and greet with NFL players, pre-game sideline passes, and even Super Bowl tickets. Other perks include a 20% discount at NFLShop.com as well as financing for eligible NFL tickets. While rates outside of NFL and team purchases earn a paltry 1 point per dollar, the redemptions you can unlock with NFL Extra Points can be worth thousands, in addition to a lifetime of memories.

Related: The Super Bowl on points: Best secret in sports, perhaps in all of credit cards

The information for the NFL Extra Points Credit Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

NHL Discover It Credit Card

Sign-up bonus: Discover will match all your cash back earned during your first 12 months of card membership.

Annual fee: None

Rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back with different merchants each quarter you enroll, such as gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants; unlimited 1% cash back on other eligible purchases. For example, from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2021, you’ll earn 5% cash back at Walmart.com, Target.com and Amazon.com.

Keep in mind: Hockey fans can customize their card design by choosing their favorite NHL team logo, as well as save 10% off an NHL.TV subscription when paying with your Discover Card.

Related: Your ultimate guide to Discover cards

The information for the NHL Discover it card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. According to TPG’s monthly valuations, Amex Membership Rewards points are worth 2 cents each, making this 80,000-point bonus worth $1,600.

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees)

Rewards rate: Earn 5x on flights booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), 5x on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel and 1 point on other eligible purchases.

Keep in mind: While you’ll only earn 1 point per dollar on event tickets and stadium/arena purchases with the Amex Platinum, the card comes with a plethora of valuable benefits for the sports enthusiast that can help offset the hefty annual fee. In addition to up to $200 in annual Uber Cash, up to $100 in annual Saks Fifth Avenue statement credits and up to $200 in annual airline fee statement credits, cardholders have a designated American Express Concierge team that can help you score that hard-to-find, big-game ticket. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Amex Platinum cardmembers also gain access to VIP experiences, such as experiencing the Amex Centurion Suite at the US Open and the ability to purchase tickets to By Invitation Only to events in key lifestyle areas such as travel, dining, wellness, retail and entertainment.

Related: Cards that offer VIP event access

Furthermore, Amex cardholders who double as NBA fans can get a replacement jersey within 90 days for free if their favorite player changes teams. Just use your American Express card to buy your favorite players’ jersey from the NBA Store and submit a Jersey Assurance claim form if that player leaves your team. Los Angeles and New York Amex Platinum cardholders can enjoy extra sporting-event benefits, including the use of an exclusive entrance, concession discounts and access to a hospitality suite.

Related: The Platinum Card from American Express review

Apply here: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Consider a flat-rate c

(Photo by Wyatt Smith / The Points Guy)

Sports fans (myself included) love the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card with its simple earning structure of 2 miles per dollar on every purchase and long-term value. The card is awarding a sign-up bonus of 75,000 miles for new cardholders after they spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. When it comes to redeeming miles for your next sporting event trip, you can use the miles as a statement credit at a rate of 1 cent per mile to offset eligible travel purchases from your sporting event.

Apply here: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

There are also plenty of other fixed-rate cards on the market ranging from top cash back cards to valuable travel rewards cards to those catering to small business owners. If cash back is more your style, a card like the Citi® Double Cash Card or Chase Freedom Unlimited is also a viable option. The Citi Double Cash earns 2% on every purchase (1% when you buy and 1% when you pay your bill), while the Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5% back on all non-bonus categories. Both are no-annual-fee cards, and you can pair them with others within their issuer lineups to maximize your redemption options and value.

Visa Signature/Mastercard Priceless benefits

If you’re a golfer like me, the Citi Prestige® Card was a must-have card with its free rounds at prestigious golf courses before a massive devaluation of the card in 2017. Today, credit card payment networks such as Visa and Mastercard offer benefits of their own that come equipped with select rewards cards.

Visa Infinite and U.S. Visa Signature cardholders are eligible to receive accelerated rewards through Troon Rewards, which offers special pricing on merchandise and golf fees at 96 participating resort and daily-fee courses worldwide. Visa Infinite cardholders can also get exclusive access to more than 15 private clubs in Troon’s portfolio. Two popular cards under the U.S. Visa Signature program are the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

All Mastercard cardholders (regardless of what type of card you have) gain access to the treasured Mastercard Priceless Program. Sports fans get exclusive access to sporting event experiences such as playing a round of golf on the famed Pebble Beach Golf Course and receive swing advice from a professional PGA golfer to scoring autographs from famous athletes and more.

The information for the Citi Prestige card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Comparing Visa Signature and World Elite Mastercard benefits

Bottom line

A lucrative points-earning card customized for sports fans may not exist yet, but there are plenty of considerable credit cards that feature solid rewards and extra perks for sports fanatics. If you’re getting ready to attend live sporting events real soon, a card that earns bonus points on event ticket purchases (through Vivid or StubHub via gift cards purchased at office supply stores) such as the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card or Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card may be for you.

Or maybe you’re a huge fan of a particular team or league, then a valuable cobranded card can help you display your fandom proudly. However, you should know that other reward cards on the market offer more points or cash back per dollar spent in popular everyday categories.

Additional reporting by Liz Hund.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here

Featured image by (Photo by Paisley/Twenty20)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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