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After a week of voting on the PWaC Facebook page, our readers have chosen the initial 64 cards that have been entered into Card Madness 2020!  You can vote for the winner of games 1-16 in the post below.  The rules are simple:

  1. Voting will be open until March 15th
  2. The card with the most votes will move on to the next round

You can check out the full tournament bracket over on our Challonge account –

I’ve tried to capture some of the main bullet points for each card below, but feel free to comment with any other important features!

a close-up of a credit card

Game 1:  American Express Gold Card v Barclays Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard

I’m biased here – the AmEx Gold is one of my daily carry cards (and Barclays hasn’t approved me for anything in a while). The Gold card earns 4x Membership Rewards at restaurants globally and US supermarkets (on up to $25k spend annually), 3x on flights from airlines or the AmEx travel portal, and 1x on everything else. After some major revamping last year it also boasts $10 in monthly dining credits and a $100 airline incidental credit.

The Barclays Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard earns 3x Hawaiian miles on purchases from Hawaiian Airlines, 2x on gas, dining and grocery store purchases, and 1x on everything else. There are a lot of airline benefits here:  the primary cardmember will get their first checked bag free when booking Hawaiian Airlines flights with their card, you’ll get $100 off of a companion fare annually, you’ll be able to share miles with friends and family with no fee, the card unlocks access to discounted award flights, and you’ll receive a one-time 50% off companion fare.

Game 2:  Citi Expedia Rewards Voyager v Barclays Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card

You’ll gain 4x Expedia Rewards Bonus points on anything booked through Expedia, 3x at restaurants and on entertainment, including tickets to concerts, movies, and sporting events, and 1x everywhere else on the CIti Expedia Reward Voyager. Secure Expedia Rewards Gold Status as long as you hold the card and if you spend at least $10,000 in a calendar year, you’ll net a cool 5,000 Expedia bonus points.  Every year you’ll get a flexible $100 credit good towards airline incidentals on qualified airlines, Wi-Fi carriers Global Entry, or TSA PreCheck application fee. (Disclaimer, I have no idea how Expedia points work!  With some quick Google-fu, it looks like an average of around 1 cpp towards flights, car rentals, tours, etc.)

Every time you swipe your Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card you’ll earn one point, and you’ll earn double points on purchases with (and onboard) Princess Cruises. There are no foreign transaction fees, and…that looks like it…

Game 3:  Chase Freedom v Bank of America Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard

The Chase Freedom is a classic categories cashback card, but when paired with some other Chase cards, you earn valuable Ultimate Rewards points!  Earn 1% back (or 1x UR) on every purchase, and 5% (or 5x UR) on rotating categories each quarter.

Earn triple Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles on purchases with the airline, and 1.5x miles on everything else when using the Virgin Atlantic card from Bank of America.  There are no foreign transaction fees and you can earn a companion pass for same class travel every year that you spend at least $25,000 on the card.  You’ll also earn 25 tier points for every $2,500 in purchases (maximum of 50 Tier Points per month) and bonus tier points when you fly Virgin Atlantic or our airline partners.

Game 4:  Discover it Miles v Barclays Frontier Airlines World Mastercard

The Discover it Miles card snuck into this competition. It’s really a cashback card, but it earns Discover “miles”!  Cardholders earn 1.5x Discover miles on every purchase, and can then redeem them towards statement credits god for travel (or anything else).  This is Discover’s only card in the tournament, good luck!

For those of you that have the Frontier Airlines Card, you already know you’re earning 5x on Frontier spending, 3x on restaurants, and 1x everywhere else. There some really interesting benefits here though – waived taxes/fees on award tickets, access to family pooling of Frontier miles and the chance to earn elite status miles. Plus, if you spend $2,500 or more on purchases during your card membership year, you’ll earn a $100 voucher good for flights on Frontier

Game 5:  Delta SkyMiles Gold v Chase Rapid Rewards Premier

American Express recently overhauled the full suite of Delta cards.  The new Delta SkyMiles Gold card now boasts double miles on purchases with Delta, at restaurants, and at grocery stores.  You’ll get priority boarding and your first checked bag free.  The annual fee o $99 is offset by a new $100 credit on Delta flights, but only if you spend at least $10k on the card within a year.

The Rapid Rewards cards have all made a good showing this year in Card Madness: 5 out of 4 have all made it into the tournament. The Premier version nets users double Rapid Rewards on Southwest purchases and 1x everywhere else. You’ll get 6,000 Rapid Rewards each year at your cardmember anniversary (you’ll also be required to pay the $99 annual fee).

a close-up of a blue airplane

Game 6: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select v Capital One Venture

Paying for gas, restaurants, or American Airlines flights with your Citi AA Platinum card?  Nice, you’ll earn double AAdvantage miles. Speaking of flights, you (and up to four companions on the same itinerary) will get your first checked bag free on American Airlines. You’ll also earn a $125 discount on American Airlines flights each time you spend at least $20,000 during a card membership year.

Te Venture card from Capital One earns unlimited double miles on all purchases. You’ll also be able to snag free TSA PreCheck or Global Entry every four years with a statement credit for your application.  Points never expire, and are a lot more valuable now that Capital One has inked some deals with transfer partners.

Both of these cards have an annual fee, which is often waived the first year. $99 at Citi, $95 for the Capital One.

Game 7:  Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier v Synchrony Cathay Pacific Credit Card

The new IHG card earns 10x IHG Rewards Club points at IHG brands, 2x points on gas, groceries, restaurants, and 1x on everything else.  Cardholders benefit from automatic IHG Platinum Elite status, and you’ll get your 4th award night free on any award booking.  The IHG Premier also offers a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit every 4 years, and a free anniversary night every year.  BUT that free night is only good for hotels 40,000 points or less, and nights aren’t always available.  I just used my last uncapped free night from the old card at the Kimpton Nine Zero Boston.

The Cathay Pacific card from Synchrony Bank earns Asia Miles – 2x on Cathay Pacific flights, in-flight purchases, 1.5x on dining and any purchase outside the US, and 1x on all other domestic purchases.  Of course, with this kind of earning structure, there are no foreign transaction fees.  You’ll also benefit from a 10% discount on gifting miles, Mileage Renewals, Mileage Transfer Fee transactions, and a 10% redemption discount on hotel, car rental and experience awards through Travel Asia Miles.

Game 8:  Citi ThankYou Premier v Capital One Spark Miles Business Card

Your Citi ThankYou Premier card earns 3x ThankYou points on any travel purchases (including gas), 2x on restaurants and entertainment, and 1x on everything else.  You’re handcuffed to a $95 annual fee, but there aren’t any foreign transaction fees. Both cards in Game 8 give you the option to transfer points to airline and hotel partners. The Citi ThankYou Premier also allows you to book travel through the Citi travel portal, while the Spark Miles lets you “erase” purchases with Capital One Miles.

The Capital One Spark Miles Business card is identical to the Capital One Venture card above in earnings – 2x miles on everything!  The Spark Miles has the Venture beat on two categories though — 5x miles on hotels and rental cars when booked through Capital One Travel.  Capital One also gives you a $100 statement towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. $95 annual fee (usually waived the first year) and no foreign transaction fees.


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