Use these cards to maximize your entertainment spending in 2020
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Entertainment spending makes up a large chunk of consumer spending in America — more than gas and clothing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. household spent $3,226 on entertainment purchases in 2018 (the most recent year for which data is available). But despite it being a common spending category, not many cards explicitly offer bonus rewards for entertainment spending.
In part, this is probably because of the ambiguity of the category itself. Entertainment spending can theoretically encompass a lot of different things, and many things you’d assume would fall under that umbrella ends up coding differently on a credit card statement — amusement parks, ski passes, dinner shows are all things that could easily be coded as travel or dining depending on the card, the specific merchant and where you purchase them from.
You can get more niche within the entertainment category, specifying which cards may be best for things like streaming services, Amazon purchases, music festivals and sporting events. But in this guide, we’ll walk through the cards that offer rewards on more general entertainment spending.
|Card||Welcome bonus||Entertainment rewards rate||Annual fee|
|Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card||$300 after you spend $3,000 in the first three months||4% cash back||$95|
|Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card||$150 after you spend $500 in the first three months||3% cash back||$0|
|Citi Premier℠ Card||60,000 ThankYou Points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months||2x ThankYou Points (through Aug. 22, 2020)||$95|
|Marvel Mastercard||$25 statement credit after your first purchase||3% cash back||$0|
The information for the Citi Premier, Marvel Mastercard and 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.
Welcome bonus: Earn a $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months.
Rewards rate: Earn 4% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on everything else.
How entertainment is defined: Capital One defines entertainment purchases pretty broadly. According to the Capital One website, entertainment purchases include tickets to movie theaters, plays, concerts, sporting events, tourist attractions, theme parks, aquariums, zoos, dance clubs, bowling alleys, pool halls, record stores and video rental locations.
Keep in mind: Additionally, Capital One only allows you to carry two personal Capital One branded cards at a time and also tends to restrict you to one new card every six months, including both business and personal cards. If you’re interested in this card, keep these restrictions in mind as you plan an application strategy.
Welcome bonus: Earn a $150 cash bonus after spending $500 in the first three months.
Rewards rate: Earn 3% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on everything else.
How entertainment is defined: Capital One defines entertainment the same across both Savor cards, meaning you’ll get bonus rewards on tickets to movie theaters, plays, concerts, sporting events, tourist attractions, theme parks, aquariums, zoos, dance clubs, bowling alleys, pool halls, record stores and video rental locations.
Keep in mind: The Capital One Savor may charge an annual fee, but anyone spending a significant portion of their budget on dining and entertainment will still likely get a better value from that card even with the annual fee. The SavorOne is best-suited for beginners and those with smaller budgets.
Check out the Capital One SavorOne card review for more details.
Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. That bonus is worth $1,020, according to TPG’s latest valuations.
Rewards rate: Earn 3x points on travel (including gas), 2x points on restaurants and entertainment purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else ( this is changing August 23, 2020).
How entertainment is defined: According to Citi, eligible entertainment purchases for 2x earning include “live entertainment, live theatrical productions, concerts, live sporting events, movie theaters, amusement parks (including zoos, aquariums, circuses and carnivals), tourist attractions (including museums and art galleries), record stores, video rental stores and on-demand internet streaming media.”
Keep in mind: Citi announced major changes to its rewards structure coming later this year. Part of those changes includes no longer earning 2x on entertainment. So while this card remains a solid option through August 22, 2020, it’s not great for a long-term entertainment spending strategy.
Check out the Citi Premier Card review for more details for more details.
The information for the Citi Premier 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.
Welcome bonus: Earn a $25 statement credit after your first purchase.
Rewards: Earn 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, online purchases at Marvel.com and purchases at Marvel’s official merchandise booths.
How Entertainment is Defined: For 3% cash back earnings, entertainment includes “movie theaters, video rental and game stores, theatrical and concert promoters, amusement parks, digital entertainment, games, and software merchants, music, books, and newsstands, and toys and hobby stores.”
Keep in mind: Of all the cards on this list, this card offers the weakest sign-up bonus. But if you’re interested in a cash back credit card to earn on entertainment spending, it’s not a bad option. However, I wouldn’t suggest using it as an everyday spending card for any expenses that don’t earn 3% back.
The information for the Marvel Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Consider a flat-rate card
Another option for entertainment spending is a flat-rate card. There are plenty on the market, from cash back to travel to business.
Frequent travelers can use the Capital One Venture® Rewards® Credit Card to earn 2x miles across every purchase. Business travelers can try out the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business, which also earns 2x across every purchase. Both only charge a $95 annual fee (and there are no-annual-fee versions of both cards for any beginners with a smaller budget).
If cash back is more your style, a card like the Citi® Double Cash Card or Chase Freedom Unlimited is also an 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. Both are no-annual-fee cards, and you can pair them with others within their issuer lineups to maximize your redemption options and value.
The information for the Capital One Spark Miles for Business and Chase Freedom Unlimited has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Don’t forget about exclusive access perks
There’s more to maximizing credit cards than just the rewards (though earning rewards is a large part of that equation).
Some top travel cards offer exclusive perks for entertainment events. Some issuers hold invite-only events that you can only purchase tickets for with a specific premium credit card. Additionally, you can sometimes score pre-sale access to tickets or VIP access at some events with a certain credit card. In those cases, it may make sense to use a card that doesn’t necessarily earn rewards on entertainment on those purchases. It all depends on what you find more valuable in each situation.
Related reading: Cards that offer VIP event access
Keep in mind that some entertainment purchases may not code as such depending on how and where you purchase tickets. For example, Disney World tickets may code as entertainment or travel depending on how you obtain tickets.
Entertainment is a major part of life, no matter your personal interests or hobbies. Whether you are a roller coaster aficionado, Marvel movie enthusiast, stand-up comedy fan or something in between, it’s good to have a card on hand that helps you earn additional rewards on those purchases and/or provides opportunities for enhanced experiences.
Additional reporting by Benji Stawski and Mike Cetera.
Featured image by Pimpap Suvanarat / EyeEm.
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