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Pick a Card, Any Card

Cash-only perks are so five minutes ago. Today's Affinity cards are all about creative extras.

After nearly two decades tucked inside our wallets, affinity cards--credit cards that pay a small percentage to the organizations whose names they carry--are going from joint ventures to creative partnerships. Here are a few next-generation cards:

AlaskaAirlines VisaSignatureCard (Bankof America)
Best For:
Big-spending snow bunnies
Perks: Sign up for a platinum card and snag a $50 companion fare--ditto when you renew.
Caveat: The annual fee of $75 dampens any enthusiasm over the companion fare.

Elvis Presley Visa (MBNA)
Best For:
Graceland die-hards
Perks: Cardholders get 10 percent off tickets to Graceland and discounts at some shops and restaurants in The King's old 'hood.
Caveat: The low APR you start with accelerates quickly.

Starbucks Duetto Visa (Chase)
Best For:
Java junkies
Perks: This is a credit card, reloadable Starbucks card and donation-generator rolled into one.
Caveat: The charitable aspect of the card involves a one-time $5 donation to The Starbucks Foundation, which supports nonprofits.

Discover Card's WNBA Team Affinity Card
Best For:
Women's basketball groupies
Perks: This card gives you VIP-access to the Discover Fan Lounge at WNBA arenas and chances to mingle with players.
Caveat: Five-percent cash back is offered only on select purchases.

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This article was originally published in the October 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Pick a Card, Any Card.

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