Don't miss out! Join the thousands of people who subscribe to our once-daily email or our free miles and points Facebook group with all the best travel news. Some links on this page may pay me a commission - as always, thanks for your support if you use them
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.
Here is our schedule – all 4 games / votes will close on Monday evening, so you still have time to vote if you haven’t already
- 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
#7 Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. #15 Chase IHG Rewards card
#7 Chase Freedom Unlimited – The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a pretty simple card – no gimmicks. You get 1.5 Ultimate Rewards for every purchase. The signup bonus varies but is currently 15,000 Ultimate Rewards and another 2500 for getting an authorized user on your card.
#15 Chase IHG® Rewards Club card – The big advantage of the IHG card is the fact that you get a free night on your anniversary, in exchange for paying the annual fee of $49. This free night (SEE ALSO: Why do people think “free” nights are a good idea?) is good at ANY IHG hotel worldwide, which is a huge advantage over some of the other cards that give free nights. If you are playing this game in 2 player mode, I usually recommend both you and your partner signing up for this card at the same time of the year. I would not generally recommend putting any extra spend on this card except maybe for paid stays at IHG hotels. The card also gives IHG Platinum status, which is not worth even breakfast at most places. Signup bonus has gone as high as 100,000 points though currently is at 60,000 plus a $50 statement credit. Although this card is issued by Chase, it is NOT believed to be subject to the Chase 5/24 rule)
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.