Credit Card Basics

The Force Is Strong With Co-Branded Cards

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Star Wars fans were lining up to see The Last Jedi —often decked out in costume representing their favorite characters from a galaxy far, far away. And it seems like there's no end to the Star Wars merchandise out there: Diehards can drop cash on everything from a $10,000 Death Star firepit to an $800 Millennium Falcon Lego set.

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But you don't have to spend a lot of money to carry the force with you always. Now there's a co-branded Star Wars credit card that features images from the films, everything from Yoda to Darth Vader. Cardholders also get 10% off select Disney purchases and can use their credit card rewards to redeem movie passes at participating theaters.

What Are Co-Branded Credit Cards?

Co-branded cards work like any normal credit card and can be used anywhere for any purchase. But the cards feature images and often provide special merchandise discounts or cashback opportunities for a specific type of purchase or experience.

For example, NASCAR fans can sign up for the Official NASCAR® Credit Card from Credit One Bank®, which offers 1% cash back on all purchases but double that on superstore purchases. Hockey diehards might want to sign up for the NHL® Discover it®, which functions just like a regular Discover it card but also offers 10% discounts at and NHL.TV.

You might also find co-branded cards with your university, like Bank of America's Alumni Association of the University of Michigan cashback card, or the Harvard Alumni Card.

Remember that a co-branded card is essentially a marketing relationship between a card issuer and a certain company or affinity group. They are often banking on your emotional connection to the fandom or company. Some 43% of Americans own at least one co-branded card, according to a report by Packaged Facts.

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Should I Sign Up for a Co-Branded Credit Card?

If you enjoy displaying your alma mater, favorite sports team or other fandoms in your wallet, that might be enough reason to choose a choose a co-branded card. But whenever you are choosing a credit card, do your homework first and consider your needs—and make sure the card doesn't end up costing you more money.

Co-branded credit cards often carry higher interest rates than their counterparts, so if you carry a balance, you'll likely end up spending more in the long run. Also, because many co-branded cards work as rewards cards, you can often find better deals on other types rewards cards to maximize your earnings. You should also factor in the cost of annual fees, which come with many such rewards cards.

But if you spend a lot of money on a particular type of a purchase, a co-branded credit card might make a lot of sense. Airlines offer co-branded cards that come with a slew of perks. The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, for example, allows cardholders a free checked bag on Delta flights, double miles on Delta purchases, discounts on in-flight purchases and access to priority boarding.