The best credit cards for attending music festivals

Mar 7, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Although music festival season is still a few months away, if you plan on attending one of these big events, you need to start planning now. Before you even start thinking about what outfits you’re going to pack, you ought to figure out which credit cards will be at the front of your wallet.

The best credit cards for music festivals

Most travel credit cards and rewards credit cards aren’t tailored to music festival-goers and none of the major promoters offer cobranded options. That said, there are still some cards that offer music festival-related perks, including extra rewards on ticket purchases and exclusive access to VIP experiences.

The information for the Citi Premier and 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.

Today we’ll take a look at five cards that’ll help you get the most from your festival experience — and explain why in all likelihood, the best strategy will probably be a combination of the following choices:

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee: $95

Welcome bonus: Earn a $300 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 within the first three months.

Earning rates: Earn 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on everything else.

Analysis: If it’s a high return on music festival spend you’re after and you like simplicity, the Capital One Savor is a no-brainer. The card has no annual fee for the first year ($95 after that) and earns 4% cash back on all entertainment purchases, including tickets to music festivals. It also earns 4% cash back on dining, which is great for when you need some grub in between performances. That’s the highest cash-back amount currently offered across all credit cards for both dining and entertainment.

When you buy tickets at Vivid Seats using your Savor card, you’ll automatically earn unlimited 8% cash back (through January 2022). And although it’s not as extensive as some of the other issuers in this list, Capital One offers cardholders special access to certain festivals, which in the past have included the iHeartRadio Music Festival and JamFest at the March Madness Music Festival. Capital One has also offered cardholders other music-related perks, such as a the chance to attend free concerts and the chance to pre-order an exclusive Taylor Swift album bundle that included a one-of-a-kind Taylor Swift T-shirt.

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.

Citi Premier Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $95

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 ThankYou points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Earning rates: Earn 3x on travel, including (most) gas stations, 2x on dining out and entertainment, including things like concerts, plays, museums and amusement parks, and 1x on everything else.

Analysis: The Citi Premier is another card that offers more than 1 point per dollar or 1% cash back on music festival ticket purchases. The card earns 2 points per dollar spent on dining out and entertainment, a return of 3.4% based on TPG’s valuations. While that return appears slightly lower than of the Capital One Savor, since the points earned with this card are transferable to airline partners, it’s possible to squeeze greater value from your points with just a little homework. This card also grants access to the Citi Private Pass program, which includes early access and preferred tickets to festivals such as Lollapalooza, the Outlaw Music Festival and Stone Pony Summer Stage, among other sporting, dining and entertainment events.

APPLY HERE: Citi Premier Card

The Platinum Card from American Express

Producer and DJ Metro Boomin performs at the American Express Platinum House during Coachella weekend. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/The Points Guy)
Producer and DJ Metro Boomin performs at the American Express Platinum House during Coachella weekend. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Earning rates: Earn 5x points on airfare booked directly with the airline or Amex Travel and prepaid hotels purchased through Amex Travel and 1x on everything else.

Analysis: While American Express doesn’t have any cards that earn bonus points for music festival spending, it does offer cardholders some of the best music festival-related benefits. The Amex Platinum and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express come with three levels of VIP event access: Entertainment Access, American Express Preferred Seating and By Invitation Only. Just as it sounds, these grant exclusive access to ticket presales, special seating and cardmember-only events, among other perks.

For the last three years, the issuer has provided Platinum cardholders (and up to three guests) access to the pop-up American Express Platinum House at Coachella, which included SoulCycle classes and premium food and drinks, as well as makeup and hair services and even live performances from musical artists such as Justine Skye and Julia Michaels. Other Coachella-specific perks included a $10 statement credit after spending $10 at participating Coachella vendors, a free Ferris wheel ride for you and a guest, access to the priority Uber lane and admission to the on-site Amex Card Member Club for you and three guests. Similar benefits were offered at the last Austin City Limits festival.

Related: How I did a mini-Coachella weekend on a budget thanks to the Amex Platinum

The card also comes with a slew of non-music festival-related benefits, including a $200 annual airline fee credit, up to $200 in annual Uber credit, up to $100 in annual Saks credit and access to the most airport lounges.

APPLY HERE: The Platinum Card from American Express

Citi Prestige

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $495

Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 ThankYou points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

Earning rates: Earn 5x points on dining at restaurants and air travel, 3x points at hotels and cruise lines and 1x everywhere else.

Analysis: Although the card no longer earns 2x points on entertainment, you’ll want to use the Citi Prestige if you want peace of mind when purchasing high-value music festival tickets. This is because the card offers Missed Event Ticket Protection. If you’re unable to attend an event for a covered reason, which can be as simple as because you lost your ticket, you’ll be reimbursed up to $500 per ticket (up to $5,000 each year). This even includes those onerous taxes and nonrefundable ticket fees like convenience and shipping fees. As with the Citi Premier and all other Citi cards, the Prestige comes with access to the Citi Private Pass program previously discussed.

Related: What it’s like to spend over a decade on tour with superstar musicians

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $95

Welcome bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $1,000 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Earning rates: Earn 2x on travel and dining at restaurants and 1x on all other purchases worldwide

Analysis: Similar to American Express and its pop-up Platinum Houses, Chase offers Sapphire Lounges. Unlike Amex, however, Chase doesn’t limit access to just premium Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders, but rather offers it to all Sapphire cardholders, including those who carry the much cheaper Chase Sapphire Preferred and those who have Sapphire Banking accounts.

Sapphire Lounges can be found at Chase-affiliated venues and at events where Chase is a major sponsor. Although the Sapphire Lounge concept is still in its early stages, the early rollouts are promising. There was a pop-up lounge at the last Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco, where cardholders enjoyed “Sapphire at Six” happy hours, snacks, a custom coffee bar, private bathrooms, Wi-Fi, charging stations and a second-story viewing deck.

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

In addition to the lounges, the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with access to “Preferred Experiences.” This gets you preferred pricing on VIP packages for music festivals and concerts as well as other types of events. Although it’s not the best use of your points, you can even use your points to pay for these experiences.

While the card doesn’t offer missed event coverage, it does offer some of the most comprehensive travel protections, including primary rental car coverage, so it’s great for booking your transportation to festivals.

APPLY HERE: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Bottom line

Credit cards aren’t useful for just booking free business-class trips and scoring upgrades to larger hotel rooms. They can also provide serious value at events like musical festivals. If you’re solely after extra rewards on ticket purchases, your best bet would be either the Capital One Savor Card or the Citi Premier, but there are many other cards that offer unique perks for those chasing the VIP experience without breaking the bank. If it’s both of those things you’re after, you can always get multiple cards — you typically won’t need to purchase your festival tickets with the respective cards to receive benefits like Platinum House and Sapphire Lounge access.

In case you don’t get in on an initial round of ticket sales, keep in mind that credit cards could still help you maximize purchases made from ticket resellers. For instance, we’ve seen several Amex Offers pop up for purchases made from ticket reseller sites such as StubHub and TicketGalaxy. You can also double-dip your earnings by making purchases with ticket reseller sites through online shopping portals. Be sure to use a shopping portal aggregator site to quickly compare earning rates.

Related guides

Featured photo Kevin Mazur/Getty Images.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.