The Super Bowl on points: Best secret in sports, perhaps in all of credit cards
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When the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers Sunday in Super Bowl LIV, I turned around from my seat in the Hard Rock Stadium upper deck to take a picture with my long-time friend Brent who attended the game with me. As we stood there displaying the silly grins of a couple of teenagers who had just conquered the world, I took stock of what had occurred over the last few days.
Over the course of Friday–Sunday of Super Bowl weekend, I met Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, watched Doug Flutie beat in-shape athletes half his age (barefoot) in the 40-yard dash, hosted 50 TPG readers at The Confidante on South Beach to talk points and miles, had brunch with NFL Hall of Famer Jason Taylor, talked my way into a Lil Wayne concert at the Delano Hotel on South Beach and, yes, attended the sometimes forgotten about aspect of a Super Bowl host location: the football game itself.
Every aspect of the weekend, sans my social engineering into a couple of parties, is repeatable with points and miles. Yet somehow, people continue to see this as an unobtainable dream — when all it really takes is a little planning and the right tools.
The Entire Super Bowl Experience on Points
Here’s a breakdown of how you could repeat my entire weekend, and possibly make it even better, utilizing points and miles:
Super Bowl flights
I covered a myriad of options for Super Bowl flights a couple of weeks ago, but standard award booking practices apply for getting to a Super Bowl host city. My buddy Brent got the call to attend last minute and booked Spirit tickets to Fort Lauderdale from Atlanta for a total of ~40,000 Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards, redeemed at 1.5 cents each, to cover the cost of the flights.
If you have any inkling you’re going to attend a Super Bowl, book your flights as early as possible to save what revenue-based points you have or snag what little award space might be available.
I stayed at the Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami, which would cost 20,000 points per night. Looking a couple of weeks out, award availability at prime hotels was sparse, but that opened up really well in the end. I showcased several options that were available one to two days out on TPG’s Instagram Stories.
Both the Hyatt Centric I was at and The Confidante, a Hyatt Unbound Collection property, had award availability every night between them. The Kimpton Surfcomber and Angler’s Hotel had space open every night of the weekend using IHG Rewards Club points and a few Marriott properties opened up at the end, including The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach.
Again, for events like the Super Bowl, booking as soon as the week is available the year prior is when you want to make award reservations. Otherwise, you’re going to have to wait until the last minute and hold your breath that hotels have over-estimated their rates and bookings and have last-minute availability to drop.
Super Bowl experiences
Flights and hotels booked on points and miles are one thing, but access to experiences not available unless you have the right points is next-level fun with a Super Bowl trip. Barclays gave TPG access to experiences made possible by the NFL Extra Points Credit Card, the official credit card of the NFL, which earns its own loyalty rewards named NFL Extra Points. (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.)
This currency is redeemable for NFL experiences around events like the Pro Bowl, draft, regular season games and, finally, the Super Bowl. These redemptions are priced, in my opinion, incredibly low.
For Super Bowl LIV, you could redeem 25,000 NFL Extra Points for a meet-and-greet chat with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice at the Super Bowl LIV Experience. For an hour we listened to Jerry and Joe banter about old stories and answer cardmembers’ questions. You then got a chance to say hello, get an autograph and take a few photos.
The event also meant you got a ticket to the Super Bowl Experience, normally $40, which is an interactive, all-immersing football day that takes over an entire convention center in the host city. You can kick field goals, catch passes, see all the Super Bowl rings, take a picture with the Lombardi trophy, meet players and spend an easy six-plus hours surrounded by football.
There was also an option to redeem points for tickets to the NFL Player’s Association party held each Super Bowl week and have a meet-and-greet with several of the NFL’s top players and retirees. On top of redeeming for game tickets, which I’ll discuss below, you could also redeem for Super Bowl travel packages that included a hotel room and flights. The card gives you VIP access to Super Bowl events not available unless you have NFL Extra Points.
Super Bowl Game Tickets
The NFL Extra Points Card allows you to redeem for Super Bowl tickets every year, assuming you have the points. Each package includes two game tickets and you can redeem points for upper level or lower level seating. This year, 175,000 NFL Extra Points got you two tickets to the upper level, while premium seats cost 225,000 points for two tickets.
NFL and NFL Shop purchases with the card earn 2x points and all purchases with the card earn 1x points. The no-annual-fee card currently has a 10,000-point signup bonus after you spend $500 on the card in the first 90 days.
Considering tickets on the open market were going for $7,500 to $9,000 for the cheapest seat, you got at least over a 4 cent/point redemption for two upper-level tickets this year. Many businesses could easily send two people to the game on an annual basis, and many do this year after year.
Any cardmembers who redeem points for tickets also get to attend a brunch the day before the game, on Saturday. This typically is where you pick up the coveted tickets and hold them in your hand for the first time. Barclays had a little fun this year and didn’t hand out all the tickets at the brunch. Instead, it stationed 3x All-Pro tight end Greg Olson in a hotel room on South Beach and called unsuspecting cardholders into the room for him to surprise them with their tickets. He’s a big dude.
For the brunch, Barclays rents out an entire restaurant for guests and not only puts on an incredible food spread with open bar but also invites a well-known former player to come say hello and take pictures. This year Hall of Famer and Miami Dolphin legend Jason Taylor attended and was happy to chat for almost as long as you liked.
At the cardmember brunch, I spoke with cardholder Joey Koelzer of Knoxville, Tennesse. Joey owns an eBay business that resells football cards and buys around $1,000,000 in inventory each year. He puts much of that spend on his NFL Extra Points Card and has redeemed for Super Bowl tickets for the last three years. This year, he redeemed 450,000 tickets for four lower-level game tickets for his brother, uncle and friend — and sees no reason why he won’t be at the game next year in Tampa.
The Super Bowl Game Day Experience
The final perk of any game ticket redemption is a ride to and from the stadium, which turned out to be incredibly valuable this year given traffic. A motorcoach took us from South Beach to a special lot for buses at the stadium and was there waiting after the game. Not having to grab a cab or rideshare and having our bus right next to the stadium was a huge added value to the game-day experience.
It’s really hard to describe the Super Bowl experience in person. A security barrier kept anyone without a ticket from even approaching the stadium.
Once inside the barrier, a Fan Plaza with booths, events, bands and bars surrounded the stadium and allowed you to walk in and out of the stadium freely during warmups. We watched Chief’s kicker Harrison Butker routinely hit 60-yard field goals from the lower level and then decided to head back outside to grab a drink and see the exhibits around the stadium.
Our two upper-level tickets for the game were in section 304 and provided a great head-on view of the action as well as any field goal kicks. We sat with NFL Extra Point cardholders we’d gotten to know over the course of the events for the weekend and had lively chats during the game.
For those who missed it, the game ended up being great, with a 10-point, 4th-quarter comeback. It’s difficult to comprehend everything that goes into a single football game until you attend a Super Bowl in person. There’s the flyover, the National Anthem, the routine celebrity spotting, J-Lo and Shakira, 15 advertising planes overhead, massive security and then the actual football game. It is really something to behold.
For 175,000 points, you can get two tickets to the Super Bowl, a bus to and from the game and a brunch the day before with a player meet-and-greet. All of that added together for such a low redemption amount makes this once of the best deals in credit cards and, in my opinion, maybe even the best deal in sports open to the public.
The entire experience except for meals between events is doable on points and miles. These kinds of experiences are what set our hobby apart from others and make the unachievable a reality. Thanks to Barclays for the access to the weekend. I strongly recommend that any football fan, which should be almost everyone on Super Bowl weekend, save up NFL Extra Points for a future dream Super Bowl experience.
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