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This time, Chase loses one of our favorite no fee cards, and the AmEx Gold continues its winning streak.  Card Madness 2019 is halfway through, and we’re getting closer to the Financial Four!

Continue to vote on your favorite cards below, and see who won last night’s games!

Loving the Card Madness 2019 series?  Follow along here:

Game 49:  American Express Gold (62 votes) vs. Chase Freedom (33 votes)

As expected, the AmEx Gold defeats the Chase Freedom in Game 49!  Although the Freedom put up a good fight, there was a clear margin of victory for the Gold card.  As we’ve seen throughout the tournament, benefits are the most important things to our readers when choosing a card, and this time it’s no different.  The Gold card has a long list of benefits, including a new $10 monthly dining credit at select restaurants and the classic $100 airline credit.  Goodbye Freedom, hello Golden handcuffs!

Game 50:  Chase Ink Business Cash (50) vs. Citi ThankYou Premier (42)

Both of these cards had strong support in the first and second rounds of the tournament, so I’m not surprised this game was a close one.  The Ink Cash will move onto Round 4, surpassing the Citi ThankYou Premier.  The Chase Ink Business Cash earns 5x Ultimate Rewards on up to $25,000 spent annually on office supply stores, internet, phone, and cable, and another double UR on up to $25,000 spent annually at gas stations and restaurants.  Citi is down to its last card:  the Citi ThankYou Prestige, going up against the American Express Business Platinum in Game 54 below.

Game 51:  American Express Hilton Aspire (52) vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred (43)

The Hilton Aspire defeats the Chase Sapphire Preferred!!  Are you listening AmEx?  PLEASE don’t gut the benefits on the Aspire (like we’ve seen happen to so many good cards).  Hilton and American Express have crafted a fantastic card in the Aspire, with awesome benefits that make the annual fee well worth it.  Although the Sapphire Preferred hasn’t been the buzzword it used to be, there are still plenty of fans of the card.  With strong support in previous games for the Preferred, I’m surprised it didn’t get more votes.

Don’t worry!  You can still support the Sapphire team (and us) if you’d like to!  Check out our Top Credit Cards Page for the latest offer on the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Game 52:  Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa (46) vs. American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant (45)

Talk about an overtime game!  When I originally went to write up this post early this morning, this is what I saw:

For every other tie game I’ve seen so far in this tournament, it’s been much smaller votes-wise, and one card always ends up taking the lead by the morning.  Not this one!  The Bonvoy Brilliant and the Bank of America Alaska card were locked in a struggle for the ages!  So, I did what anyone would do, asked our readers to break the tie on our Facebook page.

And then it happened AGAIN.

So, I just kept refreshing the page.  As soon as I saw an uneven number of total votes, I closed the poll!  In the end, The Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa card scraped out a win against the Bonvoy Brilliant, with a single extra vote:  46 to 45!

Follow the Challonge bracket here!

With these games under our belt, we’re one step closer to our tournament winner!

Round 3, Games 53-56

Game 53:  Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles

I have to be honest here, I only see this game going one way…

The Sapphire Reserve earns triple Ultimate Rewards on travel and dining  Weighing in at $450 annually, you’ll earn a $300 travel credit and have Priority Pass Select membership.  Ultimate Rewards are a fantastic currency, with a long list of transfer partners.  If you don’t want to transfer, the Chase Travel Portal can provide great value with the Reserve, making each Ultimate Rewards point worth 1.5 cents per point no matter what.

The American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles card earns double SkyMiles on Delta purchases.  You’ll also have the opportunity to earn Delta MQMs, if you’re trying to go for Status on Delta flights.  An annual Delta Companion Certificate and in-flight savings can be useful for frequent Delta flyers too, but for a $195 annual fee, I’m hard pressed to think the Delta card will make it to the next round.

Game 54:  Citi ThankYou Prestige vs. American Express Business Platinum

Personally, I love the Platinum card for Centurion access!

This game really boils down to Citi vs. American Express, ThankYou Points vs. Membership Rewards.  While I think Membership Rewards have the edge over ThankYou Points, the ThankYou Prestige has enough benefits to make up for it.  The Business Platinum has a few less benefits when compared to the personal edition of the card, but still earns MR, a great currency by any standard.  The Business Platinum offers Priority Pass Select membership and a $200 annual airline credit.  Once you select the airline you’d like, American Express will reimburse you for baggage fees, seat assignment fees, and the like.  The Prestige earns 5x ThankYou Points on travel and restaurants, 3x on hotels and cruises, and 1x on everything else.  You’ll also snag Priority Pass Select membership, access to Citi’s transfer partners, a $250 travel credit annually, and your 4th night free on two paid hotel stays per year.

Game 55:  American Express Platinum vs. American Express Hilton Ascend Card

AmEx vs. AmEx.  Remember, the Hilton Aspire took down the Chase Sapphire Preferred in Game 51 above, so maybe the Hilton Honors will surprise us!  It’s an uphill battle against the AmEx Platinum though.  The Platinum boasts a large suite of benefits, including monthly Uber credit, Priority Pass membership, access to Centurion Lounges, Hilton Gold status, and a $200 annual airline credit.  Platinum cardholders earn Membership Rewards, 5x on airfare and AmEx Travel, and 1x on everything else.  The Hilton Ascend card earns 12x Hilton points at Hilton hotels, 6x at grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants, and 3x everywhere else.  Cardholders have automatic Gold status and earn an annual free weekend night, and have the ability to spend up to Diamond status and a second free weekend night.

Game 56:  Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Red vs. Chase World of Hyatt

The Aviator Red card is Barclay’s last representation in this tournament, after the issuer lost their JetBlue cards, the Arrival+, and a few others in Rounds 1 and 2. The Aviator narrowly defeated the Gold Delta SkyMiles in their last match to move onto the Chase World of Hyatt in this game.  The Aviator Red offers double American Airlines AAdvantage miles on purchases, in-flight discounts, and priority boarding.  Plus, earn a quick and easy 60,000 AAdvantage miles on sign up!

The Chase World of Hyatt includes one free night annually, with the chance to earn a second free night.  These free nights can only be used at hotels in categories 1-4, but definitely still provide some value.  At a $95 annual fee, you’ll also earn 4x Hyatt points on Hyatt stays, 2x points on gyms and fitness, travel, mass transit, ride-sharing, and restaurants.  The World of Hyatt topped the AmEx EveryDay Preferred in Round 1, and the Chase Ink Business Preferred in Round 2.  Which card will continue its winning streak??


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