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Should you sign up for a "theme" credit card?

Theme credit cards are credit cards attached to household brand names and interests that mostly serve a niche audience; Disney, the NFL, Williams-Sonoma, things like that.

Theme or "Specialty" cards - like all credit cards - have their pros and cons. They generally serve to reward consumers that are loyal to their brand name in the form of discounts, gift cards and preferred membership. In this regard, they're a lot like co-branded airline miles cards because consumers can gain a lot with the brand on the card; the other side of that is the rewards accrued are generally reserved for that brand's purchases only. 

So theme credit cards aren't for everyone, but they're certainly for some people. For example, maybe you've got some little ones at home that are Disney-crazy and you find yourself buying Mickey Mouse-this or Donald Duck-that. It would be nice to get some extra rewards back on all those purchases, right? Well, Disney teamed up with Chase for a pretty solid cash back credit card that includes a $100 Disney gift card after you spend $500 within the first 3 months from account opening. (Restrictions apply.) It also offers 2% in reward dollars on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations, and another 1% in on all other card purchases. 

This is an example of a theme credit card that's pretty open-ended on rewarding you for the purchases you make, and you can redeem for all kinds of Disney goodies or - if you'd like - statement credits on your bill. That said, if you haven't seen a Disney movie in years and the kids are all moved out, there are other travel and hotel cards that are similar in rewards but far more flexible when it comes to redemption.

If you (or your family) has a niche interest that you constantly find yourself spending money on, then it's worth checking out whether or not this brand or interest has a rewards credit card available for the purchases you make anyway. If not, then it's probably best to stick to a general rewards or cash back card that offers more flexible rewards redemption.

Like all credit cards, determining if a theme card is right for you really just depend son the kind of consumer you are.

on Thu, 2013-03-07 09:46