Got rewards points from using your favorite NFL team’s official credit card? Redeem them soon to get that Peyton Manning jersey or Dallas Cowboys helmet or they’ll disappear forever.
Consider it a two-minute warning from the National Football League and Bank of America: “After August 31, 2010,” the bank says on its NFL Extra Points program website, “Bank of America will no longer offer the NFL credit card program. All points must be redeemed on or before this date.” Otherwise, the points will expire.
To drive home the point, NFLExtraPoints.com features a giant countdown clock just below a headline that screams “Redeem your points before the clock hits zero! Last chance to spend your points.” The site also says that current NFL credit cardholders will soon receive more information on the situation.
So what’s driving this? The NFL is moving its credit card business from Bank of America — with whom its partnered for 15 years — to British-owned Barclays Bank. According to the Associated Press, Barclays’ new NFL program is set to debut in September. The NFL regular season begins September 9.
BofA still issues Major League Baseball and NASCAR credit cards, but by and large, the issuer has distanced itself from the sports business. It wasn’t always that way, however. In 2006, BofA acquired MBNA. MBNA pioneered the so-called affinity credit card and issued many, many pro and college sports-related credit cards — including one of my first credit cards in the 1990s, an MBNA card associated with the University of Texas. But in the period since the acquisition, the credit card business has been hit hard. According to the AP, the bank’s credit card “default rate went from 3.9 percent in 2006 after it acquired MBNA to 11.2 percent by the end of 2009, though the rate has started to improve.”
The details of Barclays’ deal with the NFL remain unclear, as do the reasons why BofA and the NFL didn’t reach an agreement to extend their licensing deal. BofA remains the official bank of four NFL teams — the Cowboys, Washington Redskins, New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers, the AP says. However, those agreements allow only for debit cards to be issued with the team’s logo, not credit cards.
So starting in September, the official cards of America’s favorite sport will be issued by a British bank. That’s a point not lost on message boards around the Internet, where people seem to be more irritated about that than the fact that their points may be about to vanish. But either way, current NFL credit cardholders need to act quickly. Otherwise, when they try to buy themselves that Reggie Bush New Orleans Saints jersey to wear to the big game, all those rewards points might be worth about as much as a typical NFL preseason game. Nothing.