Money Insider: Don't score an own goal with affinity cards

 

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The Independent Online

With the new season under way, football fans up and down the country will be donning replica shirts and scarves in their team colours – and some will take it a step further and carry a club credit card in their wallet.

It may be a great talking point when you get your club credit card out in the bar in front of your friends, but these deals aren't the best option for all fans, and by choosing the wrong plastic you could end up scoring a financial own goal.

MBNA remains the primary provider when it comes to football affinity credit cards, currently behind the deals for almost 30 clubs – not just the Premier League big boys, but also some of the cash-strapped smaller teams in the lower leagues.

Creation cards is the other influential company in this sector and currently offers cards for seven football league clubs, although the financial terms of these cards are far less attractive.

A prime example is that even though the 0 per cent balance transfer term is a mere six months on the Creation football cards, the one-off balance transfer fees of 5 per cent are way out of line when compared with the market average of 2 to 3 per cent. Sign up for these particular cards by all means, but steer clear of the Creation balance transfer deals as they are more Football Conference than Football League.

Aside from the pride of carrying your club colours in your purse or wallet, simply spending on your football credit card can deliver a welcome cash injection to the coffers of your favourite team.

The funds donated from these cards make a vital financial contribution to the grass roots player development at your club thus helping the first team players of tomorrow.

If you sign up for a card the youth training academy at your club will receive up to £20 when you first use it and then a further contribution every time you spend on the card.

In the past 13 years football partnerships with MBNA have resulted in more than £10m being donated to teams up and down the country.

The interest rates on these cards at 18.9 per cent APR representative are not far out of line with the average for the market of 17.9 per cent, but if you can't afford to pay your balance off in full each month you would be better opting for a cheaper rate deal such as Sainsbury's Nectar low-rate credit card at 6.9 per cent APR or MBNA's own 6.5 per cent low-rate deal, and then making a separate donation to your club – as long as you remember!

MBNA football credit cards boosted the 0 per cent balance transfer term to 24 months earlier this year, plus you can also transfer money from these football cards directly to your bank account, subject to a one-off money transfer fee of 4 per cent – but still a low cost way to clear that nagging and expensive overdraft once and for all.

For fans who always pay their statement in full every month, these cards won't hurt your finances and can get you decent discounts in the club shop and the chance to win "money can't buy" and VIP days at your club

Some deals also allow you to spread the cost of your season ticket over nine months interest-free which is a useful option when funds are tight.

However, if you keep a big balance on your card, then look for a lower rate card and don't be blinded by club loyalty, as it could cost you much more than the value of benefits you receive.

Andrew Hagger is an independent personal finance analyst from www.moneycomms.co.uk

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