Score! 6 best credit cards for sports fans

Credit card issuers have discovered that loyalty cards and experienced-based rewards can help their products stand out in a crowded marketplace. Maybe you want to show your fan loyalty every time you open your wallet. Or, maybe you're willing to switch teams if it means getting a better deal on your daily purchases. Either way, sports franchises and banks have teamed up on some of the best rewards credit cards to battle for your business.

Hotel rewards for NFL away games

You might associate the Wyndham name with luxury vacation resorts, but you might not know that the lodging chain spent the past few years snapping up some of America's most familiar roadside hotel brands. Chances are, there's a Wyndham hotel within a quick drive of whatever stadium your favorite team's playing at next.

And according to Barclaycard, this is how much you'll save with the Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature credit card if you use the 16,000 reward points you can earn as a new cardholder ($39 annual fee version) of the card to take your tailgating on the road:

  • The Steelers take on the Ravens in Baltimore on Sept. 11. Stay at the Days Inn Baltimore Inner Harbor Hotel and save $147.

  • Philly hosts the New York Giants on Sept. 25. You'll save $149 by trading your points for a stay at the Travelodge Philadelphia Convention Center, just a short train ride from the Eagles' nest.

  • The Washington Redskins head for Dallas on Sept. 26. Redeem your points at the Wyndham Dallas Love Field and use the $119 you saved on Cowboys souvenirs.

  • Indianapolis challenges the Saints on Oct. 23. Visit the Wyndham Riverfront New Orleans and your signup bonus saves you $239.

  • The Green Bay Packers hope for high scores and high temperatures while visiting the Chargers on Nov. 6. Let the folks at the Ramada Gaslamp/Convention Center treat you to a great time, and you'll keep $179 for drinks in San Diego's nightlife hub.

The Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature credit card comes in two versions: no annual fee and 12,000 bonus points, or a $39 annual fee and 16,000 bonus points. Cardholders earn up to five reward points for every dollar spent at a Wyndham property, plus up to two points per dollar on all other transactions with the $39 annual fee version.

Zero interest for 6 months on NFL season ticket purchases

Tailgating's fun by itself, but that's nothing compared to the thrill of seeing a live football game in a packed stadium. Barclaycard and the National Football League have teamed up to help make season tickets more affordable for holders of their NFL Extra Points Visa Platinum credit card.

Purchase $500 or more in season tickets with the credit card, and Barclaycard will let you pay your balance at zero percent interest for twelve months. That way, you can guarantee yourself seats throughout the season instead of trying to catch last minute ticket sales for each game.

Bonus points for Notre Dame fans

Notre Dame fans share some of the most intense loyalty in college football. Thanks to the University of Notre Dame Platinum Plus Visa from Bank of America, they can turn that loyalty into special rewards. Notre Dame alumni can trade their reward points for exclusive experiences at the University's winter sports weekend, or to cover the costs of attending a school reunion. All cardholders can qualify for other special rewards, including:

  • Signed souvenir balls,

  • Passes to attend Fighting Irish practice sessions,

  • One-on-one sessions with Notre Dame coaches,

  • Sideline passes for football warm-up sessions, and

  • Private, campus dinner parties for up to eight guests.

In addition to earning rewards, cardholders can help the university's fundraising efforts. Bank of America shares some of the revenues from the Platinum Plus Visa with the Notre Dame Alumni Association.

Cash back for Oklahoma fans

Notre Dame isn't the only school to leverage Bank of America's WorldPoints platform for their own custom rewards credit card program. The University of Oklahoma took top honors in this year's preseason coaches' poll, and its affinity credit card earns high marks from our editorial team, as well.

While Sooners fans don't have access to as many custom experiences as Notre Dame cardholders, the University of Oklahoma Platinum Plus MasterCard highlights a reward that students and sports fans both appreciate: cash. Trading WorldPoints for cash can result in a rebate of up to 1 percent on most purchases.

Hold that Tiger (card)

Editor's Note: This offer expired and is no longer available.

Bank of America isn't the only game in town when it comes to college athletics credit cards. Louisiana State University helped create a Capital One credit card featuring one of two iconic LSU designs.

Just as LSU once defeated OU for football's national championship, the LSU Tigers Platinum MasterCard from Capital One could just edge out OU's card for a place in your wallet. Cardholders earn a point for every dollar spent with the card, plus two points on purchases made at gas stations and major grocery stores. With no foreign transaction fees, traveling Tigers will love saving money overseas.

Hey, what about baseball?

Before you think that football fans get all the best rewards credit cards, Major League Baseball's ready to throw some curve-balls at the competition. The MLB Extra Bases Rewards MasterCard offers new cardholders a 15,000 point signup bonus, enough to redeem for:

  • $150 in credit at the MLB.com online gift shop,

  • Regular season game tickets,

  • Autographed baseball memorabilia, or

  • Authentic and replica jerseys.

Save up reward points from your purchases, and you can even earn VIP stadium tours, dugout visits, or suite tickets. Your point balance can even win you the chance to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a regular season game.

Rewards credit card offers continue to grow

As banks compete even harder to earn your business over the coming years, expect to see even more top credit cards and unique reward offers from your favorite teams.