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Indulge Your Interests With Specialty Rewards Credit Cards

June 12, 2012
3 mins
A senior uses their smartphone to pay on the point of sale terminal

We've been all about the cash-back and travel credit cards lately - because they’re just so darn popular. But the truth is, while we can all benefit from gas and grocery rewards,  many of us want to collect reward points to help us indulge our unique interests. While travel and shopping are always hits, there are a slew of fantastic niche rewards cards out there for the true aficionado.

Many of these cards offer redeemable rewards to you, letting you get inside deals on the stuff you love. But there are also many types of affinity-style cards: you may not reap a ton of personal rewards every time you buy, but your purchases lead to donations to organizations that you want to support, and act like ongoing charitable donations.

As always, ensure you need to read the fine print when you apply to make sure you’re getting a fair rate and that the deals to yourself and the organizations you want to support are as advertised.

Let's take a look at some of the available niche rewards credit cards:

Credit Cards For the Sports Fan

So many teams, so many sports! Fear not sports fans - MBNA has a huge roster of variations of its mbna rewards MasterCard for fans of NFL hockey (Ottawa Senators to Toronto Maple Leafs), and football lovers of the CFL and NFL. On these no-fee cards, you earn 1 MBNA point for every $1 you spend and there’s plenty of chances for bonus points (like 1,000 of them on your anniversary).

BMO also runs CHL and MLS card series that let you support your teams in those leagues. With BMO, you pick your affinity card first and then choose your level of Air Miles rewards or cash back rewards, which determines your annual fee and interest rates. (This is the same for the numerous BMO cards mentioned below.)

Part of the charm with these cards is you advertise your favourite team or league every time you buy - it's like wearing your team jersey 24/7. The card company also makes a donation to that team or league every time you make a purchase. And here's something to really cheer about: many of these cards set you up for inside opportunities to buy tickets and merchandise, often at a discount and with your rewards points.

Credit Cards for the Student

Between BMO and MBNA, most major universities and many colleges have an affinity card that gives back to that organization every time you buy - not to mention you'll look oh-so-smart carrying that card in your wallet.

Many schools have reported taking in millions over the years from these programs: it’s a great way to be a helpful alumnus without remembering to write a cheque every year. Want to find some great student credit cards? Click here.

Credit Cards for Charitable Giving

If you love a large organization such as the World Wildlife Fund or the Cancer Research Society, it may have a card. Many of these are strongly focused on giving back, not giving you great rewards. But that’s the point!

Here are just a few examples of affinity cards:

Clubs, Organizations and Hobbies

The Royal Canadian Legion reports that its Legion MBNA card makes it about $100,000 a year in affinity donations. See if one of the large national clubs you belong to has a similar program.

Arts and Culture

The BMO Canadian Art Foundation MasterCard is just one of many that gives back to arts and culture organizations. Meanwhile, the very unique MEDO Affinity card supports the Métis community in western Canada.

Professional Associations

Where to begin? There are so many! First,  find out if your professional organization has a card that either gives back to the profession, or offers you some key benefits (like special insurance or deals where you might shop). We found the Chartered Insurance Professionals have a card that gives back to the profession, while BMO covers many like the Canadian Police Association and the Chinese Professionals Association of Canada.

So shop around and see if there's a specialty card with the right mix of rewards and giving benefits. As with any card, though, make sure it has fair rates, is easy to pay off each month, and won't entice you to overspend. Then, start swiping to your heart's delight.

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