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We’re getting close to the end here – vote for your favorite Financial Four team below!

a basketball hoop in a tree

Loving the Card Madness 2019 series?  Follow along here:

(Although the bracket is getting too spread out to snag a good screenshot, you can follow the Challonge bracket here!)

Game 57:  American Express Gold (44 votes) vs. Chase Ink Business Cash (22 votes)

The AmEx Gold defeats the Ink Cash!  (Though not by as wide a margin as I would have thought…)  The Ink Cash clearly still has fans out there, and this is a tough loss.  Remember that the AmEx Gold was our number one seed, so it’s fitting that the card continues to move forward.  The Gold card earns Membership Rewards quickly:  4x on restaurants and up to $25,000 spent at grocery stores, and triple points on airfare booked with airlines or on the AmEx Travel site.  In addition to the card’s incredible earning power, you’ll have access to a $100 annual airline credit and a $10 monthly dining credit at select locations.  Shake Shack, here I come!

Game 58:  American Express Hilton Aspire Card (55) vs. Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa (9)

The Alaska card’s winning streak ends here, put to the sword by the Hilton Aspire!  The Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Card was the only dedicated airline card left in the lineup, and no it’s no more.  The Aspire provides tremendous value for Hilton fans, and can even be useful for those that don’t frequent the chain’s hotels.  With an annual $250 airline credit, a $250 resort credit, two free weekend night awards, and automatic Hilton Diamond Status, it’s no wonder the Aspire has a large fanbase and is raking in these votes.

Game 59:  Chase Sapphire Reserve (52) vs. Citi ThankYou Prestige (16)

For the first few hours, Game 59 was pretty close.  The CSR would get a vote or two, then the Prestige fans would rally for some points.  By Monday morning though, the Sapphire Reserve was the clear winner.  The Prestige and Sapphire Reserve run in the same circle of high fee, luxury travel cards, and if I had to guess, it came down the currency and the Chase Travel Portal in the end.  Ultimate Rewards are often touted as the most powerful currency in the travel game, and my own opinions aside, UR is definitely something you want to bank.  Between the transfer partners (looking at you Hyatt..), and Chase Travel Portal, the Reserve is a great option for your go-to travel rewards card.

(Both of these currencies are transferable to powerful airline partners, like Singapore Airlines!)

Game 60:  American Express Platinum (41) vs. Chase World of Hyatt (30)

Game 60 was definitely the closest matchup out of the Elite Status Eight!  The American Express Platinum won out in the end, but the World of Hyatt card put up a good fight.  Throughout the tournament, high annual fees and great benefits continue to beat the mid-tier travel cards (even if the offer fantastic value at that level).  I don’t think it’s a surprise that the luxury cards win:  These cards are focused on travel benefits > we’re a travel blog > our readers probably travel > they probably like benefits.

a credit card with a picture of a man in a helmet

Plus, look at that sleek new design!

Welcome to the Card Madness 2019 Financial Four!

And with that, we’re onto our Financial Four teams!  Chase is outnumbered by American Express here 3 to 1, let’s see the matchups:

Game 61:  American Express Gold vs. American Express Hilton Aspire Card

Two fantastic American Express cards will finally face each other in the Financial Four.  By now you’re familiar with the card’s, but to recap:

The American Express Gold Card has amazing earning power in the Membership Rewards currency.  You’ll earn 4x on restaurants and up to $25,000 spent at grocery stores, and 3x on airfare booked with airlines or on the AmEx Travel site.  With the Gold card, you’ll also get a $100 annual airline credit and a $10 monthly dining credit at select locations.  The Aspire Hilton’s MVP is it’s annual credits.  Cardholders get an annual $250 airline credit, a $250 resort credit, one free weekend night automatically, and another after $60k spend on the card in a calendar year, and automatic Hilton Diamond Status.  You’ll also earn 14x Hilton points on Hilton stays, 7x Hilton points on airfare, car rentals, and restaurants, and 3x on everything else you pay for with the card.

What’s it going to be…the flexibility of Membership Rewards?  Or the unmatched benefits of the Aspire?

Game 62:  Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. American Express Platinum

The Chase Sapphire Reserve already took out the Citi ThankYou Prestige in Game 59, and now we have another major luxury travel card matchup.  Let’s introduce the teams:

The Chase Sapphire Reserve will earn you 3x Ultimate Rewards on travel and dining, and offers a $300 annual travel credit.  The real money maker here is access to the Chase travel partners and the Chase Travel Portal.  Compared to the other UR cards, Reserve holders also get a 50% bonus on the value of their points when redeemed through the portal – making UR virtually unmatched for flexibility.  Don’t forget, the CSR comes with a hefty $450 annual fee.

The American Express Platinum earns 5x Membership Rewards on airfare and AmEx Travel bookings, but you’ll have to shell out a $550 annual fee.  Cardholders also gain Centurion Lounge access and Priority Pass Select Membership for those long layovers, plus an annual $200 airline credit, $200 in monthly Uber credits, and access to the AmEx concierge.

(No matter which card you’re rooting for in Game 62, check out the latest welcome offers on our Top Credit Card Page!)

(It looks like CrowdSignal might not be updating fast enough…”WHO WILL WIN??” = American Express Platinum)

The winners of these two games will go onto the finals, and the losing teams will play a 3rd place match.  Good luck!

(Interestingly, the top 4 teams are our top 4 seeds!  AmEx Gold Seed 1, Hilton Aspire Seed 4, Sapphire Reserve Seed 2, AmEx Platinum Seed 3)

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