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Alright guys, our Card Madness 2020 tournament is continuing onto the next 8 games! This past round saw big wins for Chase’s Southwest portfolio of cards, and some tough losses for Barclays. (People must really like that Companion Pass!)

Follow the full Card Madness 2020 bracket and post series here – Challonge Bracket Card Madness 2020

  1. Pick the Best Credit Card of 2020 with Points With a Crew!
  2. Vote for Card Madness 2020 Round 1 Here!
  3. Card Madness 2020, Games 7-16, FIGHT!
A basketball is being dunked.

A person dunks a basketball. Image source: Getty Images.

Winners of Games 9-16

Chase has really dominated this round, winning every game they were in. This includes two wins for just the Southwest Rapid Rewards family of cards from Chase.  (Note, Game 9 was Chase against Chase.) So far Barclays has zero cards moving onto round 2, but vote for them in Games 17-24 below!

Winners are in bold below, with number of votes in parenthesis:

  • Game 9:  Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card (38) v Chase Aer Lingus Visa Signature (3)
  • Game 10:  Barclays Choice Privileges (3) v American Express Everyday Preferred Credit Card (39)
  • Game 11:  Chase Ink Preferred (45) v US Bank Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature Card (1)
  • Game 12:  Barclays JetBlue Plus (19) v Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus (23)
  • Game 13:  Chase Sapphire Reserve (win) v FNBO TravElite Card (disqualified)
  • Game 14:  American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant (12) v American Express Business Gold Card (34)
  • Game 15:  Bank of America Amtrak Guest Rewards Card (6) v Citi ThankYou Prestige (35)
  • Game 16:  American Express Hilton Honors Surpass (35) v Citi AAdvantage MileUp (6)

And onto the next 8 games!

Game 17:  Chase World of Hyatt v Bank of America Air France/KLM Card

Hyatt has continued to be one of the travel community’s favorite hotel brands, despite a sneaky devaluations last year.  The Hyatt card from Chase will get you 4 points per $1 spent at Hyatt, double points on transit, taxis, tolls, ride-share services, dining, airlines, fitness clubs, and gyms, and 1 point everywhere else. You’ll net a free award night every year on your cardmember anniversary, and a second free night if you spend at least $15,000 during your cardmember year (these nights are only good at categories 1-4). Reach your Hyatt status faster with 5 qualifying nights annually and 2 additional qualifying nights every time you spend $5,000 on your card. Plus, you’ll be a Discoverist status at Hyatt just for holding the card!

(SEE ALSO – Hyatt Increases Flexibility for Travelers in Response to COVID-19)

The Air France/KLM is a relatively new card to the mix, having launched in October 2018 from Bank of America. In some ways it mimics the Virgin Atlantic card from BoA: 3 Flying Blue miles per $1 spent on Air France/KLM (and other SkyTeam member airlines), and 1.5 miles per dollar spent elsewhere. You’ll earn 60 XP (Exprience Points, used for Flying Blue status) on approval, and earn 20 every cardmember anniversary, plus have the ability to earn an additional 40 XP at your anniversary whenever you spend at least $15,000 on the previous cardmember year.  To put that in perspective, you need 100 XP fro Silver Status, 180 for Gold, and 300 for Platinum.

Game 18:  Citi Expedia Rewards Card v Barclays Holland America Line Rewards Visa Card

The Citi Expedia Rewards Card earns triple Rewards points on eligible Expedia purchases, and 1x point on all other purchases. As long as you hold the card, you’ll have Silver Expedia status. Additionally, each $2,500 in purchases between your January and December billing statements will get you one Elite Qualifying Hotel Night closer to Expedia Gold Status. You’ll need 15 total nights to get Gold Status (or $37,500 in annual spend). It’s a pretty straightforward value proposition.

I’ve never been on a cruise, but I know there are lots of fans out there!  (Well, maybe not right now…)  The Holland America Line runs ships throughout the world. Its cobranded credit card will get you closer to your next cruise with double points on Holland America purchases and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. And…that’s about it.

Game 19:  Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless v American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business

In an interesting turn of fate, we have two Marriott cards facing off in the first round!  Boundless against business.  The Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless will set you back $95 annually in exchange for 15 elite night credits per year, automatic Silver status (and Gold status after $35,000 in annual spend), and an annual free award night.  You’ll earn 6x Bonvoy points on Marriott transactions and 2x on all other transactions. Remember, that annual free night is capped and can only be redeemed at properties for 35,000 points or less for the night.

The Bonvoy Business card from AmEx earns more points – 6x at Marriott and 4x on restaurants, shipping, gas, and telecom purchases in the US, 2x on everything else. The other benefits are similar to the Bonvoy Boundless:  complimentary Silver status (and Gold status after $35,000 in annual spend), an annual free award night (capped at 35,000 points), and 15 elite night credits. You’ll also have the opportunity to earn another free award night after spending $60,000 in a calendar year.

For what it’s worth, the 15 elite night credits stack, up to a maximum of 30 elite night credits annually.

Game 20:  Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business AmEx Card v Barclays JetBlue Business Card

American Express issues a number of Delta cards, and many of them have made it into the Card Madness 2020 tournament!  The Reserve Business edition earns 3x SkyMiles on Delta purchase, and 1x on everything else.  BUT once you spend $150,000 on purchases in a calendar year, you’ll get an extra half mile per dollar on all non-Delta purchases.  Speed through the security lines with a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credit every 4 years, and then spend that extra time with complimentary Centurion Lounge access when flying Delta booked on your Reserve card and complimentary Sky Club access.  Every year you’ll get a Delta Companion Certificate for a free (read: $75) fight and two SkyClub Guest Passes.  All this, and your first checked bag free on Delta flights for a $550 annual fee.

After a close loss for the personal JetBlue Plus card (only down by 4 votes), we’ll see if the business version can stay in the tournament! The business edition of Barclays’ JetBlue card earns 6x on JetBlue purchases and 2x TrueBlue points on restaurants and office supply stores. The cardholder and up to three companions on the same reservation will get their first checked bag free. You also have access to 50% savings on in-flight purchases, Mosaic status after $50,000 in annual spend, and a $100 annual statement credit on JetBlue Vacation Packages.

Game 21:  American Express Platinum v Barclays Miles & More World Elite Mastercard

Now entering the ring, the original high-tier card!  After an overhaul a few years back, the Platinum card will put 5x Membership Rewards in your pocket for all airline purchases and on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. The card comes with a hefty $550 annual fee, but offers a $200 annual airline credit, $200 in Uber credits annually, $50 every six months for shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue, and a statement credit every four years towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. Platinum cardholders also have Hilton Gold, Marriott Gold Elite status, and access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, including Centurion locations.

You’ll still have access to traditional Priority Pass lounges, and with the Platinum card you can get into American Express Centurion Lounges!

The Barclays Miles & More Card from Barclays earns (as you may have guessed) Miles & Mores points for Lufthansa:  double miles on Lufthansa and their partners and 1 mile per dollar.  Remember, the Lufthansa group includes Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, and SWISS.  Cardholders also get two complimentary Lufthansa Business Lounge Vouchers, a Companion Ticket after each anniversary year, and 15% off of hotels and cars booked through Lufthansa’s points program. There’s an annual fee of $89 that’s waived for Lufthansa Senator and HON Circle status holders.

Game 22:  Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card v US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite

Bank of America issues Alaska Airlines cards in both a personal and business version. The personal Visa Signature card will earn you 3x MileagePlan miles for all Alaska Airlines purchases and 1x miles for all other purchases.  When you use your card to buy Alaska lounge passes you’ll save 50%, and you’ll also save 20% on inflight purchases with your card. For a $75 annual fee, you’ll unlock a companion certificate good on any flight ($121 charge for the flight, make sure you get your money’s worth!) and no foreign transaction fees.

When US Bank released the Altitude Reserve, there was a lot of excitement.  Cardholders earn 5x points on prepaid hotels and car rentals through the Altitude portal, 3x on all mobile wallet purchases. You also get a statement credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck every four years, Priority Pass Select membership, $325 in statement credits towards eligible airline incidental purchases, and 12 complimentary Gogo WiFi passes annually.

Game 23:  Chase Sapphire Preferred v Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business Card

The Reserve got a sneaky bye week in Round 1, so let’s see if the Sapphire Preferred lives up to the hype.  Cardholders have benefited from double points on all travel and dining worldwide. New to the card:  5x Ultimate Rewards on Lyft rides through 2022. There are no foreign transaction fees and you have access to Chase’s long list of transfer partners for some great redemptions (and the Chase travel portal). Be prepared to pay a $95 annual fee.

Due to the American Airlines/US Airways merger, Citi and Barclays share rights to the American Airlines portfolio of cards. The Aviator Business card earns double AAdvantage miles on American Airlines purchases, office supplies, telecom, and car rentals (1x on everything else). You’ll also get a 5% bonus on your earned miles for the full cardmember year, so really 2.1x miles/1.05x miles. Cardmembers and up to 4 companions on the same reservation benefit from their first checked bag free and upgraded boarding positions on domestic flights. There are no foreign transactions fees, you’ll save 25% on inflight purchases, and you’ll earn a companion certificate after spending $30,000 on the card in a cardmember year.

Game 24:  Bank of America Premium Rewards Card v Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

Bank of America entered the premium travel card market recently with their Premium Rewards card. This card offers double points on travel and dining, and 1.5 points per dollar on everything else. The real value that this card offers comes with Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards Program. Folks with at least $20,000 with Bank of America will get a 25% bonus on rewards, at least $50,000 will get a 50% bonus, and a 75% bonus with at least $100,000 at BoA. Cardholders will also get $100 annually in a statement credit towards airline incidentals, and $100 towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

Wells Fargo’s only entrant into the tournament here faces some tough competition in the first round!  The Propel American Express earns triple points on dining, gas, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, homestays, car rentals, AND streaming services.  One point per dollar on all other purchases. There’s no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and you’ll have access to cell phone insurance when you pay your bill with the card.

 


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