Whether you're dedicated to catching the newest blockbuster or cheering on your favorite NFL team, you likely spend some of your income on entertainment expenses.
In fact, the average American spends about $3,221 a year, or $268 a month, on entertainment purchases, according to a sample budget based on the latest spending data available from the location intelligence firm Esri. It's more than Americans spend on gas ($2,394), travel ($2,154) and clothing ($2,176) annually.
If you use the right rewards credit card, it can help offset some of the cost of a night at the movies or tickets to see your favorite band.
There are a lot of cards out there, and they offer a wide range of perks. To help you cut through the noise, we narrowed down 111 popular rewards cards to those that offer bonus rewards for entertainment purchases. We then analyzed that batch using an average American's annual budget and digging into each card's perks and drawbacks to find the best options for entertainment purchases. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best cards.)
Here are CNBC Select's picks for the top credit cards for entertainment rewards that can earn you money while you enjoy concerts, movies, sporting events and more.
4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening
$95, waived the first year
0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases
16.24% to 25.24%
3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR
Who's this for? Sports fans, movie buffs and adventure seekers will all find a common reason to like the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card: unlimited 4% cash back on entertainment purchases. Compared to other rewards cards, this is the highest unlimited rewards rate on entertainment spending, whether you're buying movie tickets, taking a family trip to the zoo or spending the evening bowling with friends.
Through May 31, 2020, cardholders who buy tickets through Vivid Seats, a ticket resale site, can take advantage of 8% cash back.
Cardholders can also benefit from exclusive access to entertainment events, such as the iHeartRadio Music Festival and the Capital One JamFest.
Beyond entertainment perks, there's also 4% cash back on dining, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. And you can benefit from a free Postmates Unlimited membership through December 2019, which gets you free delivery on orders over $15.
This card does come with a $95 annual fee, but it's waived during the first year from account opening and can be offset by the cash back you earn.
3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months from account opening
0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
15.74% to 25.74%
3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR
Who's this for? If you're looking for a rewards card with lots of perks and no annual fee, the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great alternative to the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card thanks to its competitive 3% cash back on entertainment purchases.
This card also offers 3% cash back on dining purchases, 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Cardholders can also benefit from access to exclusive experiences, such as the iHeartRadio Music Festival and the Capital One JamFest.
In addition to rewards, there's an introductory 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, which is a great way to finance new purchases or refinance debt. After the intro period ends, a 15.74% to 25.74% variable APR applies.
New cardholders can take advantage of one of the best welcome bonuses available now: $150 after you spend $500 within the first three months of account opening. This is a great bonus for a low spending requirement.
3% cash back on dining, entertainment, online shopping at Marvel.com and at Marvel's official merchandise booths; 1% cash back on everything else
$25 statement credit after your first purchase
16.99% to 26.99%
Who's this for? Fans of the Marvel universe should consider the Marvel Mastercard®, which provides numerous perks and discounts on Marvel-related purchases and other entertainment, plus no annual fee.
Loyal Marvel fans can benefit from the variety of discounts this card provides, from 10% off at MarvelShop.com to 20% off tickets at the Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N., an interactive exhibit in Las Vegas, special discounts on Marvel comics, as well as 3% cash back online at Marvel.com and at Marvel's official merchandise booths.
Cardholders also earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, and 1% cash back on everything else.
While this card has a low welcome bonus of $25 statement credit after your first purchase, it's easy to earn since there isn't the typical $150-plus spending requirement.
5% cash back on two categories you choose quarterly (on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter, then 1%); 2% cash back on one everyday category; 1% cash back on everything else
$150 after you spend $500 within the first 90 days of account opening
0% APR for the first 12 billing cycles on balance transfers
15.49% to 24.99%
3%, minimum $5
2% to 3%
Who's this for? The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® card offers the highest rewards rate on select entertainment purchases: 5% cash back. Cardholders can choose to earn 5% cash back on two bonus categories each quarter, on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases, then 1%.
There are currently two entertainment-related categories that earn 5% cash back: movie theaters and TV, and internet and streaming services, which includes 15 providers such as Comcast, Apple Music and Hulu. You can choose both categories every quarter to maximize cash back.
You also get 2% cash back on one everyday category, such as grocery stores or gas stations, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Cardholders can update their preferences every quarter, so you can change categories based on your needs.
This card also comes with no annual fee and a generous welcome bonus of $150 after you spend $500 within the first 90 days of account opening, which is like earning 30% cash back.
6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 3% cash back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more and 1% cash back on other purchases
$250 after you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
14.49% to 25.49%
3%, $5 minimum
Who's this for? If you prefer to Netflix and chill instead of going out on a Friday night, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express can earn you the most cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions at 6%.
There are 25 streaming subscriptions that qualify for 6% cash back, including popular services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify and Prime Video Unlimited, as well as services that are typically not included among other cards, such as ESPN+, Audible and YouTube.
Cardholders can also earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit-related purchases, such as tolls, parking, buses and rideshares, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Additional perks include money-saving Amex Offers, which provide discounts and extra points at participating retailers. For example, right now if you spend $9.99 or more at Pandora.com, you get a $9.99 statement credit, through December 18. These limited-time offers are location-based and additional terms apply.
This card does come with a $95 annual fee, but it can be offset by the cash back you earn and discounts you can get through the Amex Offers.
To determine which cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed popular credit cards offered by the biggest banks, financial companies and credit unions that allow anyone to join and offer bonus rewards on entertainment purchases. Bonus rewards means a cardholder earns 2% or 2 points per dollar in a given category. In this case, entertainment.
We compared each card on a range of features, including cash-back rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit score and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.
CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2018 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.
Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $21,852 in retail spending. This budget is comprised of the most common spending categories, including groceries ($5,019), gas ($2,394), dining out ($3,365), travel ($2,154), utilities ($4,959) and general purchases ($3,961). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.
CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.
It's important to note the value of a point or mile varies from card to card and based on how you redeem them. When we calculated the estimated returns, we assumed that cardholders are redeeming points/miles for a typical maximum value of 1 cent per point or mile. (Extreme optimizers might be able to achieve more value.)
Our final picks are weighted heavily toward the highest five-year returns, since it's generally wise to hold onto a credit card for years. This method also avoids giving an unfair advantage to cards with large welcome bonuses.
While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your spending habits.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card, click here.