The 5 Best Rewards Cards For Golfers

Monday August 17th, 2015
When it comes to golf rewards, all credit cards are not created equal.
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So, you fell short in your quest to earn your PGA Tour card? Not to worry. Plenty of other cards carry golf privileges, too, and the qualifying process isn’t quite as strict. “Credit card companies have a huge interest in golf, and that’s not surprising,” says Sean McQuay, credit card expert for NerdWallet, which provides reviews of a range of consumer financial products. “The sport attracts passionate and affluent people, so really, what better market could there be?” For golf lovers with good credit, credit card options abound, but they tend to fall in one of two categories, McQuay says: major reward cards with strong golf benefit programs on the side, and golf-specific rewards cards. A number of hotel and golf resorts offer attractive golf-related reward programs, too. Here are five cards that stand out from the stack.

CHASE SAPPHIRE PREFERRED CARD

As an official partner of the PGA Championship, the card allows consumers to nab tickets to the year’s final major before they go on sale to the general public. Cardholders also enjoy special privileges at a range of events on the PGA and LPGA tours. That means pro-ams, practice rounds, clinics and inside-the-ropes passes at the tournaments themselves. The schedule is subject to change, but past events have included the Wyndham Championship, in Greensboro, N.C., and the Dick’s Sporting Good Open Pro-Am, a Champions tour event in Endicott, N.Y.

Annual fee: $95 (free for the first year)

Ernie Els greets fans at the 2014 Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club.
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AMERICAN EXPRESS PLATINUM CARD

Don’t leave home without it. Well, you can, but then you’d miss out on early access to U.S. Open tickets; stay-and-pay packages at select resorts around the country; and preferred tee times at PGA Golf Club facilities, including the Wanamaker and Ryder courses at PGA Village in St. Lucie, Fla. Through the Amex Friend of a Cardmember Program, you can also take a lesson from a PGA professional and bring along a friend for free.

Annual fee: $450

Fans watch Jordan Spieth compete at the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
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PGA TOUR BANKAMERICARD CASH REWARDS MASTERCARD

A mouthful of a name, but a bucket-load of golf-related benefits, too, including premier tee time access and merchandise discounts at 12 TPC properties in the United States and Mexico. There are some things money can’t buy, but a round at Sawgrass isn’t one of them. With this card, you even get special dibs on the first tee time of the day.

Annual fee: None

The famous island-green 17th at TPC Sawgrass even gives the pros chills.
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CITI PRESTIGE CARD

The way to a golfer’s heart is through his wallet. Citi knows this. So along with the usual credit card perks, like access to airport lounges and air travel credits, the company has kicked in three free rounds of golf per calendar year. The benefit comes through GolfSwitch, a tee time booking service with access to more than 2,000 courses across the country. We could name a few (PGA West, in Palm Springs, Calif.; Raven Golf Club, in Phoenix; Ko’olau, in Hawaii), but once we got started, it would be hard to stop.

Annual fee: $450

A scenic view of the 17th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West.
Evan Schiller

MARRIOTT GOLF REWARDS

The hotel group’s loyalty program allows members to earn points for tee times and other golf-related purchases at more than a dozen Marriott properties in the United States, Costa Rica and the Caribbean. Those points can also be redeemed toward -- you guessed it -- more golf.

Annual fee: None

Stay at a Marriott and you could earn points toward your next tee time.
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