Booking Game Tickets with Points and Miles Just Got Easier

Buying tickets to sporting events with points isn't always the best value, but depending on your priorities, it could be worth it.
May 4, 2022

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Just over a week before Opening Day, Major League Baseball inked a new partnership with Capital One. Through this new tie-in, Capital One cardholders can now redeem Capital One Miles for MLB games and exclusive MLB experiences.

However, this new MLB partnership isn't the only way you can use points and miles to book tickets to sporting events. Let's dig into how you can use different types of points and miles to score tickets to your next game.

How to use points and miles to book sports tickets and get access to exclusive events

Redeem Capital One miles for sports tickets

Capital One just jumped out front in giving cardholders access to using miles to book sports tickets. Starting in March 2022, you can use Capital One Miles to book all kinds of sporting event tickets through the new Capital One Entertainment ticketing platform. Here are some of the ways you can use Capital One Miles for sporting events.

Capital One's new partnership with MLB

As of March 28, 2022, Capital One became the official partner of MLB. The next day, Capital One launched the ability for cardholders to use their miles to book MLB games through the just-launched Capital One Entertainment booking portal.

The Capital One mileage cost depends on the cash price of the tickets for sale through Vivid Seats. So, if there's a good price on baseball tickets through Vivid Seats, you can get a good deal using Capital One Miles. For example, you can snag an Opening Day seat between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees for just 7,625 Capital One miles — before fees.

Even so, savvy points nerds might notice that the redemption rate isn't great for these tickets. These same tickets are priced at $61 per seat (before fees) on Vivid Seat versus 7,625 miles each through Capital One Entertainment. After fees, the $82.10 tickets cost 10,419 Capital One miles. That's a redemption value of just 0.8 cents per mile. You can do much better through other Capital One redemptions.

Although everyday tickets aren't a great deal, this partnership also promises Capital One cardholders access to "exclusive MLB-related benefits and experiences throughout the season" — such as special events during All-Star Week, MLB Postseason and the World Series.

Use Capital One miles to book NCAA tickets

In addition to its new partnership with MLB, Capital One also has a long-standing partnership with the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Just like MLB tickets, Capital One cardholders can also use Capital One Miles to score tickets to NCAA football, basketball and baseball games.

Again, this redemption option is simply a way to use your Capital One miles for tickets offered through Vivid Seats. And again, the redemption rate is only 0.8 cents per mile.

Capital One also partners with NCAA to offer exclusives to special events. For example, Capital One cardholders can currently redeem just 25,000 Capital One Miles per fan for NCAA Women's Final Four all-session tickets. Or, you can splurge for a VIP package for 100,000 Capital One Miles.

Capital One cardholders could get package tickets to the Men's Final Four for 100,000 miles each, but these packages quickly sold out.

Redeem Marriott Bonvoy points for tickets to sporting events

A descendent of the once-popular SPG Moments program, Marriott Moments offers Bonvoy members access to all sorts of culinary, entertainment and art events. But today, we are focusing on sports. And there's no lack of sporting events available through Marriott Moments.

For example, you can use Marriott points to enjoy a New York Rangers, New York Knicks or Los Angeles Clippers game from Marriott's luxury suite.

Events aren't just limited to the U.S. either. International sporting events available through Marriott Moments include Formula 1 race packages, suite seats at Manchester United matches and Mumbai Indians cricket packages.

Marriott Moments go well beyond just getting you into the gate. For example, Formula 1 opportunities include VIP access to invite-only parties and even an on-track experience during practice day.

Redeem Citi ThankYou Points for game tickets

Citi cardholders have access to preferred tickets, discounts and sports event offers through Citi Entertainment. Current offers include preferred tickets to Dallas Mavericks games, buy-one-get-one deals on New York Mets tickets and a 10% discount on Presidents Cup tickets.

Unfortunately, Citi cardholders can't directly redeem ThankYou points for these ticket offers.

Even so, you can indirectly use your ThankYou points for sporting events in a couple of ways. First, you can purchase gift cards for merchants like StubHub at a solid redemption rate of 1 cent per point.

Or, you can simply buy the tickets that you want using your Citi card and then redeem ThankYou Points at 1 cent per point as a statement credit, checking account transfer or check in the mail.

While this isn't as appealing as redeeming points directly for a ticket, this is a way to use your Citi ThankYou points for tickets without having to shop through a particular merchant or portal.

Use AmEx Membership Rewards for Ticketmaster purchases

Last — and least in this aspect — we consider how to use AmEx Membership Rewards points for sports tickets.

AmEx doesn't offer a sports ticket booking portal; however, you can use Membership Rewards points to book Ticketmaster tickets through AmEx's Pay With Points option. At checkout, cardmembers can redeem a minimum of 2,000 Membership Rewards points toward Ticketmaster purchases.

The downside is that the redemption rate is awful. You'll get just 0.5 cents per Membership Rewards point in value (For context, the current AmEx points value is between 1 cent when used to book travel directly and 2 cents when transferred to partners according to NerdWallet’s most recent analysis). In short: There are so many better ways to use Membership Rewards points than this.

If that's not bad enough, cardmembers currently don't have the option of using Pay With Points on the Ticketmaster website. Instead, you'll need to call 800-AXP-EARN to use Pay With Points for Ticketmaster purchases.

Thankfully, there's a slightly better way to use your AmEx points for sports tickets. Skip the hassle of booking tickets using Pay With Points and simply buy the sports tickets however you want using your AmEx card. Then, redeem points using Cover Your Card Charges to get a slightly-higher 0.6 cents per point redemption rate.

The best credit card for purchasing sports tickets

Even if you don't have the right points for the redemptions covered above, you can still maximize your points and miles earnings when paying cash for sports tickets.

Capital One® SavorOneSM Cash Rewards Credit Card
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The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is currently the top credit card pick for entertainment purchases. Cardholders earn 3% cashback on entertainment, dining, select streaming services and grocery stores.

Even better, you can earn a whopping 8% cashback on tickets purchased through Vivid Seats — all for an annual fee of $0.

New cardholders can also earn a welcome bonus: Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Final thoughts on maximizing sports purchases

With its new Capital One Entertainment and MLB partnership, Capital One jumped out front in offering points and miles redemptions for sporting events. But, don't sleep on your other options. Marriott Moments offers unique event experiences to Bonvoy members and Citi ThankYou Points are a darkhorse in providing a solid 1 cent per point redemption rate for sporting events.

Note: Chase lists a lot of partnerships and events available to cardholders of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, among others, here. However, no events are available through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal as of the time of writing.


How to maximize your rewards

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