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If you’re a sports fan, the right credit card can give you good perks and offer rewards to help you save while you support your team. Whether you’re a season ticket holder or prefer to watch the game from home, we’ve compiled the best credit cards to help you show your team spirit—and maybe get a few extra points for yourself, as well.
The best credit cards for sports fans of 2019
- Best for splurging on that big ticket: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
- Best for College Sports: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Best for Football: Barclaycard NFL Extra Points Card
- Best for Baseball: MLB™ Cash Rewards Mastercard® from Bank of America
- Best for Basketball: American Express Cash Magnet® Card
- Best for Hockey: NHL Discover It
- Best for the Olympics: Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Best for away games: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Best for tailgating: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Best for watching at home: The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
How we evaluated
I’m a writer and big University of Michigan fan (go Blue!) who has been writing about credit cards for the last six years and studying card benefits for many years longer. Many credit card options help elevate your sports experience, and I’ll help you figure out which option is the best for you. To examine cards, I looked at major credit cards with flexible points, points with hotels and airlines, and cash back. And I took a deep look into the sports-related benefits of each card, too. The best cards were chosen based on the value of rewards (both points and perks), fees, and flexibility.
Things To Know About Credit Cards
- Many of the best cards come with an annual fee, but some cards offer perks each year that significantly defray (or even negate) the fee. The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is a good example of this.
- APR rates and credit limits vary based on your individual credit. Credit limits and interest rates for each card are determined based on each cardholder’s personal situation, so we did not take that information into account when evaluating these cards. One thing to remember is that if you pay your card off in full every month, you will not be charged interest.
- Banks have the final say on who they accept for a credit card. These recommendations were put together with the assumption that applicants would have average credit or above. That being said, banks decide who they will issue credit cards to using criteria including, but not always limited to, an individual’s credit score when evaluating each applicant.
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express: Best for splurging on a ticket
A number of the cards we have on this list offer a 0% introductory APR period, but the Blue Cash Everyday is our top pick if that’s the main thing you care about because it also offers solid spending categories and doesn’t have an annual fee.
Points: The Blue Cash Everyday Card earns 3% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 in spending per year, and then 1%. It also earns 2% cash back at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% back on all other purchases.
Perks: The major perk offered by this card is an introductory 0% APR period for the first 15 months which will really come in handy if you are splurging on a big ticket purchase. But, keep in mind that after 15 months your interest rate will increase to 15.24% to 26.24% based on your credit worthiness. You’ll want to make sure that you can pay off the balance in time because you will be back-charged interest for any remaining balance after the introductory period ends.
Learn more about the Blue Cash Everyday
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards: Best for college sports
Capital One has sponsored the NCAA since 2010, but they don’t offer one credit card that is co-branded with the NCAA. Rather, any Capital One cardholders can access any special promotions that are offered. Our recommendation is the Capital One Quicksilver Card. This card does not have an annual fee.
Points: The Capital One Quicksiver Card earns 1.5% back on every purchase with no rotating or bonus categories to keep track of.
Perks: Capital One cardholders have early access to some NCAA events, regardless of the card. For example, one upcoming event is the 2019 College World Series, and Capital One cardholders have early access to seats. With this card you’ll also have an introductory 0% APR period for the first 15 months, after which the APR will increase to 16.24% to 26.24%. This card also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, which likely won’t help you too much when traveling for NCAA games but might come in handy for an upcoming trip!
Learn more about the Capital One Quicksilver
NFL Extra Points Card: Best for football
Visa has a partnership with the NFL through the 2020 season, so if you’re a big football fan, a Visa card is an obvious choice. This partnership includes the chance to win Super Bowl tickets during promotions and the usual great acceptance of Visa cards at merchants. For NFL fans, the Extra Points card is a great choice due to offering special financing on ticket purchases and the cash back offers on related football purchases. This card doesn’t have an annual fee.
Points: The Barclaycard NFL Extra Points card offers 2 points per dollar spent on NFL tickets, in-stadium purchases, at NFLshop.com, and team pro shops. This card earns 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Points can be redeemed for cash back and each point is worth one cent.
Perks: This card has some great perks for the avid NFL fan starting with 20% off on all purchases at NFLshop.com. You’ll also have access to exclusive NFL rewards and team experiences including the option to redeem your points for once-in-a-lifetime experiences like tickets to the Super Bowl. You’ll also receive access to promotional 0% APR financing for 6 months on eligible tickets purchased from NFL team ticket offices. After the intro period, a variable 18.24%-28.24% APR will apply.
Learn more about the NFL Extra Points Card
MLB Cash Rewards Mastercard: Best for baseball
MLB and MasterCard have a partnership that allows cardholders to customize their credit card to support a specific team. Deserve Pro MasterCard comes with some nice cashback options to boot. This card doesn’t have an annual fee.
Points: This card offers 3% back in a category of your choice from gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishing. (If you love to travel for the games, select travel for your chosen category, but if you would rather tailgate with friends, gas may be a better choice.) You’ll also earn 2% back on grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1% back on all other purchases. But, note that you’ll only earn those 3% or 2% bonus points back on the first $2,500 spent each quarter, and then you’ll earn 1% for the rest of the quarter.
Perks: You’ll also enjoy an introductory 0% APR offer for the first 12 billing cycles on purchases and any balance transfers made within the first 60 days of opening your account. After the introductory period, your rate will increase to 16.24-26.24% based on your creditworthiness. One basic, but fun perk is that you can show off your team pride with your credit card design.
Learn more about the MLB Cash Rewards Mastercard from Bank of America
American Express Magnet Card: Best for basketball
American Express is the official partner of the NBA, but they operate a little differently than other credit card-sport partnerships. Instead of offering ongoing rewards, they offer something special during the NBA season. The Amex Cash Magnet Card is a good all-around cash back card that gives you access to the NBA promotions and offers good cash back. This card does not have an annual fee.
Points: This card makes things easy. You’ll earn 1.5% back on all purchases, all the time. There are no rotating or bonus categories to keep track of.
Perks: American Express offers some limited-time basketball promotions during the NBA season, but since the season just ended there are currently no offers available. What’s nice about Amex’s partnership is that it doesn’t actually matter what American Express card you have. You can enroll in the offer with any Amex card, and the offer varies each season. This card also offers an introductory 0% APR period for the first 15 months, and then a variable APR between 15.25% and 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
Learn more about the Amex Cash Magnet Card
NHL Discover it: Best for hockey
The NHL has a partnership with Discover, and the NHL version of the Discover It card is a great option if you want to land some extra perks. This card does not have an annual fee.
Points: The Discover It card offers 5% back on categories that rotate each quarter and 1% back on all other purchases. For example, 5% cash back categories in the past have included gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon, and more. You can earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter.
Perks: There are two big perks offered by the NHL Discover It card for NHL Fans. First, you can save 10% on your NHL.TV subscription when you pay with your Discover Card. You can also save 10% with Shop.NHL.com when you pay with your Discover card and use coupon ITPAYS.
Learn more about the NHL Discover It
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for the Olympics
Visa is still the official partner of the Olympics through 2032. So, you’re pretty much out of luck if you show up to the Olympics without a Visa card. Since the Olympic Games don’t return to the U.S. until 2028—the next ones are in Tokyo, Beijing, and Paris—we recommend our top pick for the best credit cards for international travel, the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This card has a $450 annual fee.
Points: The Sapphire Reserve card earns 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and on dining at restaurants. It earns 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Ultimate Rewards points can then be used to book hotels, cruises, car rentals, vacation rentals, and tourist activities directly through Chase’s travel portal where they’re worth 1.5 cents each ($0.015). So, a cross country flight that would cost you $500 on an airline’s website would only cost 37,500 points (worth $375 if redeemed for cash) if you bought it through Chase’s travel portal. For additional flexibility, points can also be transferred to partners like United Airlines, if you want to combine them with your frequent flyer miles.
Perks: The Chase Sapphire Reserve doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees for purchases made abroad. This perk is an absolute must if you plan to travel to the Olympics because foreign transaction fees can be as much as 3% on cards that charge them! That adds a significant amount to the cost of the trip. The Sapphire Reserve also offers primary car rental insurance coverage up to $75,000 in physical damages or theft, meaning you don’t have to pay extra for the car rental company’s insurance and if something happens to your rental car, you won’t have to make a claim to your own insurance policy first. You’ll also benefit from trip delay coverage, trip cancellation coverage, and lost and damaged baggage coverage which means that you may be able to get away without purchasing additional travel insurance. What’s more, the Sapphire Reserve offers a $300 travel credit each year, where the first $300 in travel purchases (from taxi fares to hotels to flights) made on your card will be refunded via a statement credit, effectively reducing the annual fee to $150. You’ll also receive a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee credit (an $85 or $100 value) every four years, and a Priority Pass Select Membership, giving you access to over 1,000 airport lounges around the world. These travel benefits can save you time and hassle and help you look forward even more to your trip to the Olympic Games.
Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Best for away games
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has been a favorite travel credit card for its great benefits and flexible points since it was introduced in 2009. Points earned through the card can be used for all kinds of travel redemptions including hotel stays, cruises, car rentals, and even flights, which makes it a great card if you’re planning to travel for away games this year. This card has a $95 annual fee.
Points: The Sapphire Preferred card offers 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on all travel and dining purchases and 1 Ultimate Reward point per dollar spent on everything else. Ultimate Rewards points can then be used to book hotels, cruises, car rentals, vacation rentals, and more directly through Chase’s travel portal at a rate of 1.25 cents per point ($0.0125). For additional flexibility, points can also be transferred to Ultimate Rewards partners. Most Ultimate Rewards transfer partners are airlines, but you can also transfer your points to rewards programs from hotel chains like Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Marriott. If you just want the cash back, Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for cash at a rate of 1 point for $0.01.
Perks: The Chase Sapphire Preferred has many great benefits in addition to how flexible the points are. It offers primary car rental insurance coverage, meaning if something happens to your rental car you won’t have to make a claim to your own insurance policy first. It also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees for any trips you make abroad. These benefits make it a solid choice for traveling to the next away game, especially if you’re planning to rent a car.
Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred
Blue Cash Preferred Card: Best for tailgating
If you’re planning to tailgate this year, there’s a good chance you’ll end up driving to the game. If you do, then a card that rewards you for gasoline purchases is a solid choice. My top pick for the best tailgating card is the Blue Cash Preferred Card, which offers both great gas rewards and bonus points at U.S. grocery stores—so you can pick up some tasty supplies as well. This is a cash back card with a $95 annual fee.
Points: The Blue Cash Preferred Card gives you 3% cash back on any money spent at U.S. gas stations. You’ll also earn 6% cash back on the first $6,000 per year on spending at U.S. grocery stores (and then 1% at grocery stores after $6,000), and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Perks: The Blue Cash Preferred Card doesn’t have many additional perks, but it does offer an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. After the introductory APR period, the interest rate will be increased to 15.24%-26.24% based on your creditworthiness. It also offers secondary car rental loss and damage insurance; secondary means that you must first make a claim to your own car insurance policy.
Learn more about the The Blue Cash Preferred Card
The Amex EveryDay Card: Best for watching at home
The Amex EveryDay Card was created to be just what it says in the name—your everyday credit card. It rewards you by offering a 50% bonus on all of the points you earn in a month when you use the card at least 30 times. And, with a huge bonus on grocery store spending, this card is a great option for watching the game at home. This card has a $95 annual fee.
Points: This card earns 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on spending at U.S. supermarkets on the first $6,000 in spending each year (and then one point per dollar), 2 points per dollar spent at U.S. gas stations, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. And remember, if you use this card at least 30 times per month, you’ll get a 50% bonus. That means you could earn 4.5 points per dollar at grocery stores, 3 points per dollar on gas, and 1.5 points per dollar on all other purchases.
Perks: Since this is our recommendation for watching the game at home, it doesn’t have as many perks as other cards on this list offer. But, you will benefit from car rental insurance, roadside assistance hotline, and global assistance hotline. You’ll also have an extended warranty, purchase protection, and return protection on any eligible purchases made on your card.
Learn more about the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card
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Other top credit card options
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- The best credit cards if you love traveling but hate flying
- The best credit cards for cruises
- The best hotel credit cards
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