2013 Credit Card March Madness Final Four

Posted By Trav

2013 Credit Card March Madness Final Four

And then, there were four!

And while some other cards put up valiant efforts, there isn’t much surprise over which 4 cards are left standing to battle it out for the title of Best Travel Credit Card.

But now, it really gets interesting.  Vegas oddsmakers A certain frequent flyer blogger puts the chances of all four cards as being victorious as equal, and each of the two Final Four matchups is a toss-up.

Before voting, let’s take a look back at the Elite 8.

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Elite 8 Recap

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred continues its torrid run through the tournament, once again nabbing the highest percentage of the votes and demolishing the Citi Hilton Reserve 89% to 11%.
  • The matchup that I assumed would be the closest, the Citi AAdvantage vs. the Barclays USAirways, was anything but.  The Citi AA card nabbed a staggering 71% of the vote to run away with it.
  • The Amex SPG is still alive and looking to become a repeat champion after defeating another hotel credit card, the Chase Hyatt, by a 68% to 32% margin.
  • In the closest match of the Elite 8, the Chase Ink Bold made it two Chase cards in the Final 4 by handling the Amex Platinum, 65% to 35%.


Voting will end on Monday, April 8th, so get to it!

Matchup #1

In the toughest threat yet to the 2012 reigning champ’s repeat dreams, it’s a battle between the Citi AA’s twice as big sign up bonus vs. the flexibility, transfer bonuses, and 5th night free of the SPG.

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest

Amex SPGAmex SPG application link

  • Sign up bonus: 25,000 SPG points
  • Minimum Spend: $5,000 in 6 months
  • Annual Fee: $69 WAIVED the first year.
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Points transfer to tons of airlines at a 1.25 to 1 ratio, giving ultimate flexibility.
  • Stay 4 nights, get the 5th night free
  • Cash and Points system offers great value if you want to stretch your points.
  • 1x per $1 on all purchases

Citi American Airlines Visa

citi-aa-visaCiti AA Visa application link

  • Sign up bonus:  50,000 American Airlines miles
  • Minimum Spend: $2,500 in 4 months
  • Annual Fee:  $85 WAIVED the first year
  • Foreign Transaction fee: 3%
  • American Airlines has some great off-peak travel deals, like 40k roundtrip to Europe or South America or 35k roundtrip to Hawaii.
  • American Airlines doesn’t charge a fuel surcharge (except for British Airways flights).
  • 1x per $1 spent on all purchases.
  • 2 Admiral Club lounge passes (no longer available)
  • $150 statement credit (no longer available)

[polldaddy poll=7011891]

Matchup #2

In a brother on brother match between the two best Chase cards on the market, it comes down to whether you value the smaller minimum spend and 2x on travel and dining of the Sapphire Preferred or the extra 10k sign up bonus and 5x ability of the Chase Ink Bold.

Chase Ink Bold


This card is no longer available from Chase.

The Chase Ink Plus is identical to this card but is a credit card not a charge card and is a good alternative.

  • Sign up bonus:  50,000 Chase points
  • Minimum Spend: $5,000 in 3 months
  • Annual Free: $95 WAIVED the first year
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Chase points transfer to multiple airlines or hotels (United, Southwest, Hyatt) at a 1:1 ratio
  • 5x per $1 spent on cable/internet/cellphone bills
  • 5x per $1 spent at office supply stores, which allows you to buy gift cards to maximize miles.
  • 2x on gas
  • 2 free Lounge Club passes each year
  • Full review of the Chase Ink Bold

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase-Sapphire-PreferredChase Sapphire Preferred application link

  • Sign up bonus: 40,000 Chase points
  • Minimum Spend: $3,000 in 3 months
  • Annual Fee: $95 WAIVED the first year
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Points can be transferred to airlines and hotels (United, Southwest, Hyatt, etc.) at a 1:1 ratio.
  • 2x per $1 on travel and dining
  • 1x on all other purchases.

[polldaddy poll=7011904]

Who do you think should be moving on to the championship round?  Let us know in the comments below!

This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.


  1. Nancy says:

    It says poll did not load properly.

    1. Trav says:

      @Nancy- It seems to be working for me. Did you try it again? Let me know if you are still having problems.

      1. Nancy says:

        After several attempts and a few hours later it worked. A glitch I suppose. Ahhhhhh…..Ink vs Sapphire.

  2. Greg C says:

    Can’t imagine why the AA card beat the US Air card- AA card will always be around in one form or another- US Air will be going away soon so we need to jump on it while we can

    1. Trav says:

      @Greg C- I think, looking at both their merits, they are fairly equal. If you take the fact that the USAirways card is most likely going away, then I agree. I do think that the Citi AA deal at 50k will be gone pretty soon though. The other 50k Deals (Amex and Business) are already toast.

  3. Keith says:

    Trav…just voted. Ink and Preferrred is really close. How are you planning OT if it happens?

    1. Trav says:

      @Keith- Hmmm, no real plan for OT actually. We’ve been having about 300 people vote per matchup, so I’m hoping that it doesn’t end in a tie. If it does…maybe coinflip? Not sure, if you have suggestions I’m all ears.

  4. Keith C says:

    It’s s tough choice between Ink and Preferred.. I’m just glad I can actually own both! :)

    1. Trav says:

      @Keith C- Yeah, its like asking a parent to choose a favorite child! In the end, I went with the Ink because of the sign up bonus, but man, was it close!

  5. Wayne S says:

    Picking between the two Chase cards is tough. I ultimately went with the Ink but I could’ve gone either way. Good match-ups

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