Super Bowl: Credit card tips, watch-party ideas

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Super Bowl watch party: Credit card tips, party ideas

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The Super Bowl is almost here, and football fans are prepping for the ultimate watch party.

Whether you’re cooking up a big batch of game-day chili or drafting the pizza delivery to your party-planning team, your rewards credit cards might be able to provide the assist.

Here are six strategies for saving money and racking up rewards, along with some great tips to make this Super Bowl the best one ever – no matter who wins:

See related: 4 cooler ways to redeem cash back rewards

1. Use the right card

If you’re hitting the market to pick up appetizers, finger food or snacks, you want a card that gives you bonus points for grocery store purchases, says Julian Kheel, editorial director with The Points Guy. One example: the “newly revamped” American Express® Gold Card, which gives 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets.

Likewise, if you’re sending out for pizza or stopping to pick up subs, you want a card that gives you bonus points for dining out, he says. An example: Citi Prestige, which pays 5 points per dollar spent on dining out.

Big-game party tip:

  • Chili is classic game day fare, says Peter Callahan, owner of Peter Callahan Catering and author of “Peter Callahan’s Party Food.”
  • To give it some extra spice, try a dress-your-own-chili bar. Supply a big pot of the main dish, along with all the toppings, like onions and cheese.
  • To make things interesting, pick up some great hot sauces in a variety of strengths and let your guests pick the level of heat they can handle.

Tip: Very often cards will include food places that deliver, as well as food delivery services like GrubHub and Seamless, as “dining out,” says The Points Guy editorial director Julian Kheel. Meaning you get those bonus points for dining out. But some cards may not. One way to tell: Do a trial run by ordering a little something a few weeks before the game and see how your card treats the purchase, he advises.

2. The gift card trick

Say you want to make a purchase, but your rewards card doesn’t offer bonus points for the buy. Do this instead: Buy a gift card at a retailer where you can get extra points, then use the gift card for your purchase.

If you’re putting together a game-watch party, this can be a great tactic for food and small things you might need. But it’s probably not something to use for those pricier items like electronics, says Kheel.

When you buy with your card, you get benefits that can be worth a mint, like price protection and extended warranties. “For a large item, like a TV, you might think twice,” says Kheel.

Big-game party tip:

  • Mix up a specialty drink and give it an appropriate name, says Callahan.
  • Think “Touch Down Margarita” or something named for a favorite team.
  • You could even have two pitchers – one for each team.

3. Don’t sell your rewards short

“This is where it’s important to know what kind of points and rewards you have,” Kheel says. With a travel rewards card, you’re not going to get maximum value for your miles or points by trading them for cash or gift cards, he says.

Want to harness travel rewards to pay for your party? Think in terms of offsets. Calculate your points and plan to use them for an upcoming trip. Then use the money you’ll save on that trip to fund your party.

Have a cash back card? In this case, you’re ready to go. Use that cash back or those statement credits to stock up on whatever you need for your big-game gathering.

Big-game party tip:

  • Do a little Google research on your favorite players and serve a dish or two that you know are their particular favorite, says Callahan.
  • It’s an interesting bit of trivia you can share with guests and it adds to the fun.
  • And to get the party rolling, don’t forget a little music from your favorite team’s hometown.

4. Rack up points on electronics

In the lead-up to the big game, electronics stores will have deals on televisions, says Conway. You can pick up a deal and earn some serious points if you put it on a card.

Some cards, like many offered by American Express also hook you up with specialized deals through Amex Offers, which will vary from customer to customer, says Conway.

Before you shop for electronics (or anything else), go to the site and see if there’s something that might help with your purchase.

Big-game party tip:

  • Want to make that takeout or frozen food look party-ready?
  • Finish it off with a personal touch or two, like putting fresh basil on that pizza.
  • “You’re taking it to another level,” says Callahan.

5. Do the math on what you’ll really earn at checkout

Card lovers compare rates on points and rewards. But sometimes they forget to figure the actual value of those rewards.

If your cash back card is giving you 5 percent per $1 and the points are worth a penny, you’ll get $5 for $100 of party food. If your travel rewards card gives you the same rate in points, and those points are worth 2 cents each, you’ll essentially earn $10 for the same buy.

“The thing to remember is you can be leaving significant rewards on the table,” Kheel adds. “5 percent in points can be more valuable than 5 percent cash back.”

Big-game party tip:

  • A strip of AstroTurf and some white tape can turn any buffet table into a football field.
  • And you can find game or team-themed bowls and other gear to give your party a festive atmosphere for not much money, says Callahan.

6. Assist out-of-town guests with travel

If you have friends coming in from out of town for the big event, you can use your travel rewards to offset the cost of their travel or their hotel stay, says Kheel.

“It might be a great time to help them with their travels with your rewards,” he says.

Not only are you getting the most value from your rewards, but you’re also giving a big assist to friends or family members.

Big-game party tip:

  • Don’t forget your friends who are vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free, says Callahan. 
  • If you put out some gluten-free rolls, or veggie chili, you become the host who thinks of everything, he says.

Tip: Hotels and airlines are more than happy to oblige, says Julian Kheel from The Points Guy. They allow members to book flights and rooms for others – though you may have to include both names in the reservations, he adds.



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