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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

#3 Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. #15 Chase IHG Rewards card

This semifinal is a battle of 2 cards on very opposite spectrums – do you like the card with the low annual fee ($49) that has one real benefit (the free anniversary night at ANY hotel) or the card that has some of the best benefits out there, but comes with an annual fee nearly 10 times as high?

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

Chase IHG

#15 Chase IHG® Rewards Club card – The big advantage of the IHG card is the fact that you get a free night on your anniversary, in exchange for paying the annual fee of $49.  This free night (SEE ALSO: Why do people think “free” nights are a good idea?) is good at ANY IHG hotel worldwide, which is a huge advantage over some of the other cards that give free nights.  If you are playing this game in 2 player mode, I usually recommend both you and your partner signing up for this card at the same time of the year.  I would not generally recommend putting any extra spend on this card except maybe for paid stays at IHG hotels.  The card also gives IHG Platinum status, which is not worth even breakfast at most places.  Signup bonus has gone as high as 100,000 points though currently is at 60,000 plus a $50 statement credit.  Although this card is issued by Chase, it is NOT believed to be subject to the Chase 5/24 rule)

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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