Money Insider: Football credit cards can be an own goal

Football fans show their somewhat blind support for their beloved club in many ways. It's not just about sporting replica shirts and scarves in their team colours these days as some take it a step further and carry a club credit card in their wallet.

It can be a fun talking point and often a bit of a wind-up when you get your football club credit card out in the bar or restaurant in front of your friends.

But although the banter may be fun, football credit cards aren't the best option for all fans and by choosing the wrong plastic you could end up scoring an embarrassing financial own goal.

MBNA remains the dominant player when it comes to football affinity credit cards. The plastic cards giant is 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 the sector and 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 per cent to 3 per cent.

Sign up for these cards by all means but steer clear of the Creation balance transfer deals as they are more Conference football than Premier League. Simply spending on your football credit card can deliver a welcome cash injection to the coffers of your team. The funds donated from these cards make a vital financial contribution to the grass-roots player development at your club.

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 the partnership with MBNA has resulted in more than £10m being donated to teams.

The interest rates on these cards at 18.9 per cent APR representative are not off 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 deal such as Sainsbury's Nectar low rate credit card at 6.9 per cent APR and making a separate donation to your club.

MBNA Football Credit Cards last week boosted the 0 per cent balance transfer term to 29 months, which puts the cards in touching distance of the longest BT deals of 30 and 31 months.

For fans who pay their statements 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 VIP days at your club.

However, if you keep a big balance on your card, then look for a lower-rate non-football 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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