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The best credit cards for entertainment spending in November 2019

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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.

Winner: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Winner: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
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Information about the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95, waived the first year

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases

  • Variable APR

    16.24% to 25.24%

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years

    $2,251

  • Estimated rewards earned on entertainment each year

    $129

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Unlimited 4% cash back on entertainment purchases
  • 8% cash back on all Vivid Seats ticket purchases through May 31, 2020
  • Free Postmates Unlimited membership through December 2019
  • Ability to redeem rewards at any amount, unlike some other cards with $25 minimums
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee after the first year
  • Cable, digital streaming and membership services are excluded from the 4% cash-back rate
  • No introductory 0% financing offers for purchases or balance transfers

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.

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.

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Information about the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Runner-Up: Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Runner-Up: Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
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Information about the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

  • Variable APR

    15.74% to 25.74%

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years

    $2,152

  • Estimated rewards earned on entertainment each year

    $97

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Unlimited 3% cash back on entertainment purchases
  • Ability to redeem rewards at any amount, unlike some other cards with $25 minimums
  • Competitive special financing offer on both new purchases and balance transfers
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • Cable, digital streaming and membership services are excluded from the 3% cash-back rate
  • Balance transfers incur a 3% fee for promotional APR offers

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.

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.

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Information about the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Best for Marvel Fans: Marvel Mastercard®

Best for Marvel Fans: Marvel Mastercard®
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Information about the Marvel Mastercard® has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    3% cash back on dining, entertainment, online shopping at Marvel.com and at Marvel's official merchandise booths; 1% cash back on everything else

  • Welcome bonus

    $25 statement credit after your first purchase

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Variable APR

    16.99% to 26.99%

  • Balance transfer fee

    None

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years

    $1,776

  • Estimated rewards earned on entertainment each year

    $97

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Special discounts and rewards for Marvel fans: 3% cash back online at Marvel.com and Marvel's official merchandise booths, 10% off merchandise purchases at MarvelShop.com, free shipping at certain times of the year at MarvelShop.com and discounts on Marvel tickets and comics
  • Simple welcome bonus that only requires you to make a purchase — with no minimum spending requirement

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • No introductory 0% financing offers for purchases or balance transfers

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.

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.

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Information about the Marvel Mastercard® has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Best for Bonus Categories Like TV and Movies: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature®

Best for Bonus Categories Like TV and Movies: U.S. Bank Cash+™  Visa Signature®
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  • Rewards

    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

  • Welcome bonus

    $150 after you spend $500 within the first 90 days of account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for the first 12 billing cycles on balance transfers

  • Variable APR

    15.49% to 24.99%

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2% to 3%

  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years

    $1,167

  • Estimated rewards earned on entertainment each year

    $112

  • See rates and fees and our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • High 5% cash back on select entertainment purchases, when you activate bonus categories
  • TV, internet and streaming services are a bonus category, which is uncommon for entertainment cards
  • Low spending required to earn a good welcome bonus

Cons

  • 5% cash back is limited to $2,000 in combined purchases each quarter
  • Activation is required to earn 5% cash back
  • Limited entertainment bonus categories, which exclude the typical concerts, amusement parks and sporting events
  • 2% to 3% foreign transaction fee

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.

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.

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Best for Streaming Services: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Best for Streaming Services: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
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  • Rewards

    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

  • Welcome bonus

    $250 after you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases and balance transfers

  • Variable APR

    14.49% to 25.49%

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2.7%

  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years

    $2,457

  • Estimated rewards earned on entertainment each year

    $48

  • See rates and fees and our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Unlimited 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • High 6% cash back at U.S. supermarket spending (up to $6,000 a year, then 1%)
  • Unlimited 3% cash back at U.S gas stations and on transit
  • Amex Offers, which provide statement credits at select merchants
  • A year of no interest on new purchases and balance transfers

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • 2.7% fee on purchases made abroad

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.

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.

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Our methodology

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.

Best credit cards for entertainment shopping

Credit Card Estimated entertainment rewards earned each year Estimated rewards earned after five years
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card$129$2,251
Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card$97$2,152
Marvel Mastercard®$97$1,776
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature®$112$1,167
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express$48$2,457

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.