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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-4

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

#9 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express vs. #13 Chase Freedom

#9 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express – The signup bonuses on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express cards are currently at an all time high of 35,000 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.

#13 Chase Freedom card – The Chase Freedom card is a no-fee Chase card that earns 1 Ultimate Reward per $1 spent.  It can be a great way to keep your Ultimate Rewards active if you don’t have a premium Chase card.

chase-freedom-q1-2017-categories-bonus-5

The real benefit of the Chase Freedom card is a rotating set of 5x categories.  The 2017 Q1 categories for the Chase Freedom card are gas stations and local commuter transportation.  So your first $1500 in spend this quarter in that category will earn 5x Ultimate Rewards.  If you maximize your categories for the whole year, that’s an extra 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points!

Here will be our schedule

  • Thursday 3/30 – #9 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express vs. #13 Chase Freedom
  • Friday 3/31 – #3 Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. #15 Chase IHG Rewards card

Both polls will run through Monday night (4/3) and we’ll announce the winners on Tuesday 4/4.

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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