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We’re onto our second day of the Points With a Crew Card Madness 2019 tournament!  By now, you guys voted for your favorite cards in the first 8 games.  I’ve closed the polls, and the results are in!

Game 1:  American Express Gold Card (61 votes) vs. American Express Business Lowe’s Card (1 vote)

The American Express Gold card blew the Lowe’s card out of the water, 61 votes to 1!  Remember, this was seed 1 vs. seed 64, so I don’t imagine anyone will be too surprised by the results.  Guess that new Shake Shack monthly credit really won over some hearts (and stomachs).

a close-up of a credit card

Raise your hand if you’ve got the Rose Gold edition!

Game 2:  US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Signature Visa Select (39) vs. Bank of America Amtrak Guest Rewards Mastercard (13)

Again, no surprises here – the US Bank Travel Rewards Signature beats the Amtrak Guest Rewards card from Bank of America.  At least the Amtrak card put up a good fight in this match!  Living in the northeast, I actually get a lot of use out of the Amtrak Guest Rewards system, so I was rooting for the underdog here.

Game 3:  Chase Freedom (52) vs. Barclay JetBlue Business card (7)

The Chase Freedom knocks the Barclay JetBlue Business card out of the tournament, 52-7.  The Freedom’s flexibility and Ultimate Rewards earning capability is definitely a great value for most users.  JetBlue has a good points system and good cards issued by Barclays, but you really need to be in a JetBlue hub to get the full use out of the card.

Game 4:  Banco Popular Avianca Vuela Visa Card (14) vs. Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Business Card (40)

The underdog won this match!  The Banco Popular Avianca Vuela Visa Card was seed 17, but only got 14 points.  The Barclay AAdvantage Business card was seed 48, but received a whopping 40 points for the first game!  When the buzzer sounded, the issues with the Avianca LifeMiles cards and programs just couldn’t hold up to the benefits of the Barclay AAdvantage Aviator card.

a plane on the runway

Game 5:  Capital One Venture (26) vs. City National Crystal Visa Card (28)

Game #5 went into overtime, with the City National Crystal Visa Card edging out the competition 28 to 26 points.  Even with Capital One’s expansion of their points system and travel partners, it wasn’t enough to beat the allure and great benefits of the Crystal card.  Interestingly, you can only apply for the City National card in person, within the bank’s limited footprint.  Will this exclusivity be a disadvantage in future matches?  Stay tuned!

Game 6:  Barclay Wyndham Rewards (4) vs. Chase Ink Cash Business (52)

The Chase Ink Cash routed the Barclay Wyndham Rewards Visa in a 52 to 4 victory last night.  Originally, we weren’t including the Ink Cash, since it’s a cashback card, but their fans are dedicated!  Readers suggested the Ink Cash on our Facebook page, and they continue to show up and support their team!  With Wyndham’s recent devaluations, on the other hand, it’s not surprise the Wyndham lost their first game.

Gem 7:  Citi ThankYou Premier (37) vs. US Bank Altitude Reserve (19)

Even after all the hype for the Altitude Reserve when it was first released, it just couldn’t keep up with the solid value provided by Citi’s ThankYou Premier card.  To be honest, I thought this one would be a much closer match, but the TYP has a clear margin of victory over the Altitude Reserve.

Game 8:  Bank of America Alaska Airlines Business Card (30) vs. American Express Business Gold (25)

Business vs. business…and Bank of America comes out on top!  The Alaska business card defeats the AmEx Business Gold card, 30 to 25.  This was a close game, but in the end, Alaska’s superior award chart topples the flexibility of Membership Rewards.  This one caught me off guard, and I was originally rooting for the Business Gold.

Follow the Challonge bracket here!

a screenshot of a computer

So far the tournament seems to be favoring flexible points, with big wins from Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, and ThankYou Points.  As any good travel hacker knows, flexible points have the potential to deliver huge value.I’m stoked there were a few close games too, it just goes to show that you need to vote!  Your vote matters!

Next week we’ve got some tough games.  Will flexible points continue to win?  Will Membership Rewards or FlexPerks take the W?  You’ll have to wait and see!

Ready for today’s matches?  Go!

Pacific Division, Round 1, Games 9-16

Game 9:  American Express Hilton Aspire Card vs. Wells Fargo Propel Card

American Express revamped it’s Hilton portfolio last year, introducing the Hilton Aspire, Ascend, and Honors card all of which made it into our tournament this year.  The Aspire is the high-end edition, offering a $250 resort credit, 14x points on Hilton spend, Priority Pass membership, and a $250 airline credit.  As long as you use both credits, it’s worth significantly more than the substantial $450 annual fee.  The Wells Fargo Propel card is a classic bank points card.  Earn triple Propel points on travel, restaurants, gas, transit, and streaming services.  Then, redeem your points for statement credits or deposits into your checking account at 1 cent per point.

Game 10: Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Chase Southwest Plus

I think of the Freedom Unlimited as the more relaxed cousin of the original Freedom card.  Less rules, just 1.5 Ultimate Rewards on everything, with a decent welcome offer.  Stack those points with the Sapphire or Sapphire Reserve, and you’ve got yourself a great lineup.  The Chase Southwest Plus is the lowest tier of Chase’s personal Southwest cards.  Double points on Southwest, minimal benefits, but wait!  That Companion Pass is a huge plus for the Southwest cards…will the Companion Pass win the game for Southwest?

(SEE ALSO – Southwest Flights to Hawaii Live! – as low as $29 one way (!))

a close-up of a blue airplane

Game 11:  Discover it Miles vs. Chase Ink Business Unlimited

The Discover it Miles is a relatively new card to the game, earning 1.5 miles on every purchase.  Every Discover Mile is worth 1 cent, but there are not transfer partners.  Don’t forget the welcome offer on this card though – double your miles in your first year!  Can the great offer outlast the value of the Ink Unlimited card?  The Ink Unlimited is basically the Freedom Unlimited, for business.  Makes sense, right?  Earn 1.5 Ultimate Rewards on every purchase.

Game 12:  Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business

The Sapphire cards…the first card for many people in this hobby.  Will the nostalgia and great benefits hold out?  Or will the newer cards beat the competition?  The Sapphire Preferred earns double Ultimate Rewards on travel and dining, you can transfer your points, and your UR are worth 25% more when redeeming directly towards travel on the Ultimate Rewards portal.

The American Express Bonvoy cards are new, as a result of the Marriott-Starwood merger.  With the Business version of the card, you’ll earn 6x on Marriott hotels, 4x on restaurants, gas stations, and phone services, and 2x Bonvoy points on everything else.  With complimentary Silver Elite status and the chance to earn Gold Elite status, the Bonvoy Business card is great for business travelers that prefer Marriott (and former SPG) properties.

(SEE ALSO – Bye bye Bonvoy: my Marriott Titanium status is headed for the Bon-void)

Game 13:  Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa vs. Synchrony Cathay Pacific

The Alaska Business card defeated their rivals in Game 8 yesterday, will Alaska continue to dominate?  The Cathy Pacific will have to put up a fight.  With double Asia Miles on Cathay Pacific purchases, and 1.5 Asia Miles on dining, Synchrony offers a decent (if limited) airline card for those that can use Asia Miles.

Game 14:  Barclay Choice Privileges vs. Chase Southwest Premier Business

Barclay has a big portfolio of less well known cards, and quite a few of them made it into the tournament!  The Choice Privileges card will net you 15 Choice Privileges points per dollar spent with the Choice brands, and double points on everything else.  Chase offers 3 personal Southwest cards (one that’s playing in Game 10 above), and one business card.

The Southwest Premier Business is the only business card I know of that doesn’t earn extra points on business purchases, like office supplies, telecom, or internet.  With double points on Southwest, and easy access to the Companion Pass though, I know a lot of readers that love it.

Game 15:  Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select vs. Citi AAdvantage Executive

Look at this match!  Varsity vs. Junior Varsity (but I think JV might win…)  Both cards earn extra points on American Airlines purchases.  But, the Platinum has a much lower fee, and earns a double AAdvantage miles on restaurants and gas.  For a $450 annual fee, the Executive’s claim to fame is priority boarding and Admiral’s Club access.

(SEE ALSO – Book Your Next American Airlines Flight by April 30th!)

Game 16:  Chase United MileagePlus Club vs. American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant

Chase issues a few different cards in partnership with United Airlines.  The Club Card is the highest tier, very similar to the AAdvantage Executive, but for United.  You’ll get United Club access (hence the name) and 1.5 MileagePlus on every purchase for a $450 annual fee.  Check out our full review of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant here – cardholders get a $300 annual hotel credit, Global Entry credit, Priority Pass, a free night, and Marriott Gold Elite Status for a $450 annual fee.  This match pits two heavy hitters against each other!

Good luck to all the competitors!

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