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Fans can win with soccer credit cards

By Daniel Workman

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Earlier this month, the Bank of Montreal (BMO) introduced a set of soccer credit cards that capitalize on Canadians' blossoming loyalty to Major League Soccer (MLS). 

As Canada's three MLS teams, the Montreal Impact, Toronto FC, and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC haven'tmontreal-impact exactly performed like world beaters -- only the Vancouver Whitecaps FC has a winning record and the winless Toronto FC is dead last in the standings.  Yet all three Canadian teams attract over 18,000 followers to their home games, capped by the Montreal Impact's league-leading average attendance of 40,500 fans.

"With three professional MLS teams playing in Canada, and growing rivalries between the teams and their passionate fans, we thought the timing was right for this product," says Carol Greene, a media relations senior manager at BMO Financial Group.

Sports enthusiasts can sign up for the full trio of Canadian soccer team plastic. "However, the applicant would need to satisfy requirements for each card's separate credit limit, and therefore the individual would need to apply three times to obtain all three cards," explains Greene.

Choosing the right soccer credit card
Canadian MLS credit cards prominently feature team logos and come with rewards. In addition, there are four distinct variations for each soccer team card:

  • Premium CashBack.
  • No Fee CashBack.
  • Gold Air Miles.
  • No Fee Air Miles.

Premium CashBack provides free roadside assistance, and awards 1 per cent cash on regular purchases and 3 per cent for spending at Shell gas stations and participating car rentals. Those reward rates are twice the cash-returns offered on the No Fee CashBack card. Premium CashBack imposes a $49 annual fee, the cash-back equivalent garnered after $4,900 worth of yearly regular charges.

Gold Air Miles generates 1 air mile for every $15 in charges, which is 8.3 per cent faster than the 1 air mile per $20 spent under a No Fee Air Miles card. Gold Air Miles cardholders also reap a 25 per cent discount on all air miles flights, while new enrollees receive 150 bonus air miles on their first purchase. Gold Air Miles cards charge a $99 annual fee, a cost that would be recuperated after roughly $14,000 in annual spending.

Other soccer credit card benefits
The default APR for all four of ??the soccer team cards is 19.5 per cent. Happily, an additional fee-based option enables cardholders to shrink their interest costs.

"For $45 per year, the ongoing interest rate is reduced from 19.5 per cent to 12.9 per cent," says Greene. "For a cardholder who carries an average balance of about $800 or more each month for a year, the low-interest rate option is advantageous." That's because the lower 12.9 per cent charge on an $800 balance saves about $53 in annual interest compared to the 19.5 per cent APR.

As a BMO customer, extra perks are available under the BMO Power of Blue program. These include entrance privileges for cardholders to get into games faster. Depending on the soccer stadium, cardholders who pass through these exclusive gateways may be upgraded to better seats and receive a $50 food-and-beverage voucher, be selected to participate in the official pre-game coin toss or take a shot on goal after the match.

Consumers can also keep their soccer credit cards as collector's items. "However, it is important to keep in mind that the cardholder is responsible for any financial liability that may result in the case of fraud or theft of the card if the card is active and if such incidences are not reported to the bank promptly," adds Greene.

For now, cardholders show ongoing loyalty and support for their favourite soccer team each time they take the brightly logoed credit card out of their wallet.

If only Canadian professional soccer teams start winning more games.

See related: The most popular NHL team credit cards; What makes a credit card a collectible?

Published: May 22, 2012