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I’m a big fan of that one college basketball tournament going on right now whose name I can’t say for fear of violating their trademarks.  Last year, we did a “Top Travel Tool March Mayhem” tournament where we ranked the top miles and points tool, with Award Wallet beating out AutoSlash in the finals.

CardMadness

This year I thought I’d try a similar tournament to pick the “best” miles and points credit card.  While the definition of a “best” credit card is fairly impossible to judge, since there are so many factors that go into that decision, most importantly figuring out where you want to go before you just sign up for cards, but hey, let’s give it a try!

CardMadness bracket

Here is our CardMadness bracket for 2017.

card-madness-2017-bracket-5

You could certainly argue with some of the seeds I’m sure, but I think it’s a fairly reasonable list.

Card Madness Opening Round

The opening round games have now finished, and the results are in!

3 big upsets as the Chase Ink and both versions of the Platinum Card® from American Express go down.  The Chase IHG card winning as a #15 seed was a big shocker for me – to the point of wondering if there were any voting shenanigans.  Or perhaps people just didn’t like the healthy $450 annual fee, preferring other premium cards.

Card Madness Quarterfinals

The second round is now complete as well

Card Madness Semifinals

The second round is now complete as well

#3 Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. #9 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

The finale brings together the darling of the last few months (CSR) vs. a card soon to be going away (SPG).  Perhaps the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express should have been seeded higher given that many people view 1 SPG point as worth more than 1 of any other type of point.

chase-sapphire-reserve-logo#3 Chase Sapphire Reserve – The Chase Sapphire Reserve has been the darling of the miles and points world over the past year or so.  There have been signup bonuses of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards, but the signup bonus has dropped to 50,000 as of now. You certainly get a ton of benefits with the CSR, but it comes with a hefty  $450 annual fee.

The CSR is also subject to Chase 5/24, which had some negative consequences for my mom the other day.  Here are a few articles on the CSR

#9 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express – The signup bonuses on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express cards have gone as high as 35,000 points, but currently they are at 25,000 points.  These cards give benefits at Starwood hotels (including complimentary lounge access!), but a big benefit is that there are ~20 SPG airline transfer partners that you can transfer your points to [SEE: The 3 SPG transfer partners you do NOT want to use].  You also get a 20% bonus transferring to airlines, meaning 20,000 SPG points becomes 25,000 airline miles in most airlines.  Also, remember that due to the Marriott / Starwood merger, any Starpoints you have will transfer to Marriott 1:3.

Polls will close tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon and we’ll announce the winners then.

A note on shenanigans – this contest is meant to be in fun and there are no prizes for winning.  While I don’t mind if you encourage friends, family members and others to vote for a particular tool, please don’t try to rig the system by voting multiple times.  I do reserve the right to disqualify entries and/or just arbitrarily pick a winner if I feel like it.

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