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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.
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!
Here is our CardMadness bracket for 2017.
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!
- #13 Chase Freedom defeats #4 Chase Ink in a close upset – 54.4% to 46.6%
- #5 Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card defeats #12 Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, 65.7% to 34.3%
- #11 Citi Prestige® Card upsets #6 The Platinum Card® from American Express, 51.8% to 48.2%
- #3 Chase Sapphire Reserve slaughters #14 The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, 80.9% to 19.1%
- #1 Chase Sapphire Preferred defeats #16 Chase Southwest Airlines Card, 85.2% to 14.8%.
- #8 AT&T Access More card is defeated by #9 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, 84.3% to 15.7%
- #2 The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN is shocked by #15 Chase IHG Rewards card, 51.4% to 48.6%
- #7 Chase Freedom Unlimited defeats #10 Citi® Double Cash Card, 65.8% to 34.2%
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
- #1 Chase Sapphire Preferred falls in OVERTIME to #9 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express after a 50%-50% tie in regulation
- #5 Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card is upset by #13 Chase Freedom, 57.4% to 42.6%
- #15 Chase IHG Rewards card continues its Cinderella run with an upset of #7 Chase Freedom Unlimited, 58.9% to 41.1%
- #3 Chase Sapphire Reserve hammers #11 Citi Prestige® Card, 78.1% to 21.9%
Card Madness Semifinals
The second round is now complete as well
- #9 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express continues its run, defeating #13 Chase Freedom 63.2% to 36.8%
- #3 Chase Sapphire Reserve ends the Cinderella dreams of #15 Chase IHG Rewards card, 70.6% to 29.4%
#3 Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. #9 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
The finale brings together the darling of the last few months (CSR) vs. a card soon to be going away (SPG). Perhaps the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express should have been seeded higher given that many people view 1 SPG point as worth more than 1 of any other type of point.
#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 Sapphire Reserve vs Chase Sapphire Preferred card
- Why the Chase Sapphire Reserve card might make using Rapid Rewards obsolete
#9 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express – The signup bonuses on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express cards have gone as high as 35,000 points, but currently they are at 25,000 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.
Polls will close tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon and we’ll announce the winners then.
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.