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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!
  4. Card Madness 2020 Games 17-24, Big Wins for Chase
  5. Hyatt Dominates the Competition! Welcome back to Card Madness 2020
  6. Our Readers Love Chase and AmEx – Vote for Card Madness 2020
  7. Discover and Capital One Have Been Voted Off the Island! Card Madness 2020 Round 2
  8. Only Three Banks Left, Vote for Card Madness 2020 Here!
  9. The Chase Sapphire Reserve Pulls in the Most Votes in Round 3 of Card Madness 2020
  10. Welcome to the Quarterfinals of Card Madness 2020!
  11. The Best Hotel and Bank Cards Have Made it to the Financial Four!
  12. Chase Sapphire Reserve Gets Chance at the Title of Top Card 2020!
A basketball is going through a hoop.

Get ready for the madness. Image source: Getty Images.

Aaaand the Card Madness 2020 Winner Is…

A person holds a trophy in the air.

A person holds a trophy in the air. Image source: Getty Images.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve!

  1. God Medal Game:  Chase Sapphire Reserve (79) v Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (37)
  2. Bronze Medal Game:  American Express Gold (41) v Chase World of Hyatt (30)

The CSR defeats the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card 79 to 37, claiming first place two years in a row. There was a lot of support for the Reserve card throughout the Card Madness 2020, but the team really pulled in votes for this final game. The CSR received around 2.1 votes for every vote for the Aspire. I personally love the Aspire card, but my single vote wasn’t enough! I can’t deny the CSR offers better earning potential and certainly a much better-earning currency.

The Gold card from American Express beats the World of Hyatt by a much closer margin for the Bronze Trophy. The Aspire, CSR, and AmEx Gold all made it into the top four cards last year as well. In the end, transferable points and travel credits beat hotel status and benefits.

What about some of the other conclusions we can draw from Card Madness 2020?

Despite the Hype, People Don’t Really Like Airline Cards

Ok, so when we started the tournament, we had 26 airline cards. For each game, there’s one winner and one loser, so you’d expect that number to be cut in half by the next round. Only 6 airline cards moved onto Round 2 – the Rapid Rewards Premier, Priority, Plus, and Premier Business, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business, and the Bank of America Alaska Airlines card. Clearly a lot of support for Southwest! Can’t blame people for loving the Southwest cards with easy access to the Companion Pass. By Round 3, only the Rapid Rewards Premier was still in, and then it lost to the Citi ThankYou Premier.

Of course, loyalists to airlines will always keep a card in their wallet for priority boarding, free bags, etc. I think two things are at play here:

  1. As more airlines move to revenue-based systems, your points are becoming less valuable. Why hold an airline card when you can just use your favorite cashback card to pay for your flights and earn miles on the way back?
  2. As transferable currencies add partners and better alliances, there’s less marginal value in keeping your miles tied to a single airline.

(SEE ALSO – Don’t Worry, You’ll Have Extra Time for Your Companion Pass!)

Travelers Appreciate Recent AmEx Overhauls (but Maybe not the Strict Rules…)

American Express has been updating many of its cards the past few years, and it shows. When I first got into the award travel world in 2016, AmEx was, let’s say, not the favorite. A lot has changed since 2016, and the Centurion card issuer has done it’s best to keep up. Two of their top travel cards made it to the end of this tournament, and both have some great credits that travelers appreciate. One word of advice for AmEx? C’mon, make the credit easier to use! Don’t let Citi and Chase eat your lunch on this one, make the airline and hotel credits on all cards more flexible. Your cardholders will be happy!

Readers Love the Benefits of Hotel Cards!

Second place:  Hilton Aspire. Fourth place:  World of Hyatt Card. A few other hotel cards were sprinkled throughout the tournament as well. Relative to their starting numbers, hotel cards did much better in Card Madness 2020! (We started with only 12 hotel cards, 13 if you count the Comenity Caesars Total Rewards Card.) In my experience, people tend to be more loyal to their hotel brand than their airline, but I’m not totally sure why the Hyatt and Hilton Aspire cards scored so highly in our tournament.

What about you guys? Look over the Challonge bracket and the other posts, and let me know what you think! Notice any patterns?

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