Can I earn bonus rewards playing golf?

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There is no go-to card for golfers, but some cards offer golf-themed perks

Tony Mecia is a business journalist who writes for a number of trade and general-interest publications. Every week, he answers readers’ questions about credit card rewards programs in his “Cashing In” column.

Ask Tony a question, or see if your question has already been answered in the Cashing In answer archive.

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Dear Cashing In,
I golf a lot. Are there any credit cards that give me rewards for golfing? It seems like some give rewards for travel or shopping, but are there any for golf? – John

Dear John,
The short answer is that there are no cards that provide
extra reward points for playing golf, but the more complete answer is there are
a number of different ways that avid golfers can use credit cards to their
advantage. For example, with the right cards, you can gain access to exclusive courses, receive discounts on
golf merchandise and greens fees and get tickets to professional golf
events on points. 

To me, none of these benefits is so great by itself that it
would lead you to apply for and receive a particular credit card.

While there is no obvious
go-to card for golfers, if you learn which cards come with which benefits,
you might factor in that information when you apply for future credit cards. Or you might
find you already have a credit card that has some benefits for golfers. 

Here are four ways you can use credit cards for golf: 

1. Play a free round of golf at
participating resorts

If you have the Premier
Rewards Gold card from American Express
(annual fee: $195, waived the first year) or the Platinum Card from American Express (annual fee: $550), you can receive a complimentary yearlong membership to a
program called Preferred Golf. 

Valued at $295 a year, Preferred Golf gives you a free round
of golf with a two-night stay at participating resorts. There are several dozen
courses worldwide, including Pebble Beach and Spanish Bay in California. And
you can also receive discounts at a broader range of courses. 

2. Rack up rewards at golf hotel
resorts

When you are at golf resort hotels, you often can charge
golf-associated fees to your room. If you combine that with a hotel credit
card
, which often gives extra points for charges at that hotel chain, you can
rack up points quickly. You then can use those hotel points for future
hotel stays or, in some cases, future rounds of golf. 

For instance, Marriott has a golf
rewards program
that allows you to redeem points for rounds of golf and earn points for use toward future rounds of golf. If you like golf and
frequently stay at Marriotts, you might consider the Chase Marriott Rewards
Premier Plus card
(annual fee: $95), which gives you 6 points per $1 on
Marriott charges and 2 points per $1 on all else. 

See related: 5 credit card perks that save you money

3. Redeem rewards for
golf tourney tickets

It’s not the same as playing golf, but you can use points from
major rewards cards to obtain tickets for pro golf events. For instance, if
you have a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can spend points toward
tickets to the PGA Championship in August 2018 in St. Louis.

A day pass is
3,800 points (worth $38), or you could go upscale with a ticket that also gets
you into the Chase Sapphire Hospitality Chalet with “complimentary food and beverage” for
25,000 points (value: $250). 

4. Get special access to golf courses

There are a few different ways to use credit cards to reserve a round of
golf at hard-to-schedule clubs.

Bank of America offers the PGA Tour Cash Rewards Mastercard (no annual fee). The rewards are structured like
an ordinary cash rewards card – 3 percent back on gas, 2 percent at grocery
stores and wholesale clubs. But the card also gives you access to special
booking windows for rounds of golf at Tournament Players Club (TPC)-affiliated courses around the
country. Other benefits include discounted greens fees and 20 percent off
merchandise. 

Mastercard has a similar golf program
for holders of any Mastercard. One of the main benefits is the ability to book
rounds of golf at exclusive courses. 

Card issuers try to make their cards appeal to a variety of
audiences, and golfers tend to be pretty dedicated. None of these benefits
might be enough to entice you to apply for a new card, but they might have some
use for people who love the sport. 

See related: 5 extraordinary ways to redeem your rewards this summer

 




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