Affinity cards are a special kind of credit card which are linked into the cardholder's lifestyle in some way, offering benefits of a more personalized nature than the typically available 0% balance transfer offers and the like. Examples of affinity programs are charity credit cards, where a donation is made to a particular charitable organisation whenever the card is used, or a travel rewards card which lets you build up points which you can redeem against a hotel chain or airline which you use frequently.
A further type of affinity card is becoming more and more popular: the sports team affinity card, aimed at supporters of a particular football team or other sporting club.
The most obvious difference between a sports card and a normal one is in the actual appearance of the card, which will generally feature the logo or badge of the team chosen. This in itself is a desirable feature for many fans, as it's a very visible declaration of your allegiance to your team, and is sure to attract comment from other fans.
Perhaps the most important aspect of sports affinity cards is a financial one, however. In much the same way as charity credit cards work, a sports card lets you contribute to the financial wellbeing of your team with no direct cost to yourself. A small percentage of everything you spend will be donated by the card issuer to the team linked to the card account, and while this may amount to only a small sum in the case of individual cardholders, the money involved can mount up quickly if thousands or tens of thousands of people regularly use the card.
In many cases, the money raised by starting a sports affinity card program will be used by the team involved to fund the longterm health of the club, often by investing in youth academies and development. This means that by using the card for regular spending, you're helping to secure the success of your team well into the future.
Not only can your card use benefit your team, it can also feature attractive personal benefits such as discounts on club merchandise, a rewards scheme where you can build up points to offset against the costs of buying tickets, or even priority access to big games, depending on the specific card involved.
So, are there any downsides? Like all credit cards that offer some sort of tempting carrot to entice people to apply, the benefits offered need to be paid for somehow, and this is usually in the form of a higher standard APR or interest rate. It's unlikely that you'll find an affinity card of any variety listed in the 'best value' or 'lowest APR' tables. If you use your card for borrowing rather than simply as a convenient payment method, the sports-related benefits may well be overshadowed by the increased costs of the card.
Having said that, unless you're planning to carry a substantial balance on your card from month to month, the headline interest rate is perhaps not as important to you as the fact that your card will be showing your support for your team both visibly and financially.