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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!

CardMadness bracket

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!

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.

Here will be our schedule

  • Thursday 3/23 – #1 Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. #9 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
  • Friday 3/24 – #3 Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. #11 Citi Prestige® Card
  • Saturday 3/25 – #7 Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. #15 Chase IHG Rewards card
  • Sunday 3/26 – #5 Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card vs. #13 Chase Freedom

#1 Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. #9 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

chase-sapphire-preferred-logo#1 Chase Sapphire Preferred – The CSP spent many years at the top of the miles and points travel rankings.  In fact, I’ve written before about how it seems like the Chase Sapphire Preferred was the #1 card I would recommend to people just starting out.  In 2016, the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve temporarily supplanted the CSP at the top of most people’s rankings.  But with the bonus on the CSR back down to 50,000 points, the lower annual fee moved the CSP back up to the #1 seed.  Here’s a comparison of the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve.

[How do you destroy a metal credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred?]

The CSP comes with 50,000 Ultimate Rewards as a signup bonus, and is considered a premium Chase card, allowing you to transfer your Ultimate Rewards to travel partners.  It also comes with premium car rental insurance and travel protection.

#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.

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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