Mastercard Black Card

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OK perks for the steep price, but where’s the sign-up bonus?

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The Mastercard Black Card is the middle card in a metal-themed Luxury Card trio, right in between the Titanium and Gold cards. It offers more perks than the Titanium card, but it still fails in comparison to elite travel cards with big annual fees.

If you can afford a pricey rewards card and want all the plush perks that go along with it, do yourself a favor and get one that also gives you a big sign-up bonus.

Review

For the $495 annual fee, Black comes with many of the upscale perks we’ve come to expect from an expensive travel card:

  • Priority Pass membership for airport lounge access
  • A $100 reimbursement for the Global Entry application fee
  • An airline incidentals fee credit
  • Travel and auto insurance and protections.

The rewards rate is simply OK.

You will earn double points per $1 when redeemed for airfare and 1.5% for cash back. The website for the Luxury Cards highlights the upscale benefits of card ownership like airport meet-and-greets and chauffeured transportation. But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that these are not included offers, they’ll cost you extra.

And, when you compare this card to other issuers’ premium offerings, the Mastercard Black Card falls short. For example, at a slightly lower cost of ownership, the $450 Chase Sapphire Reserve will give you all the same perks, but offers an annual $300 travel credit to be used any way you like versus the Black Card’s $100 airline incidentals credit. And, the Chase Sapphire Reserve pays a higher rewards rate on more than just airfare. All dining and travel earn 3X the points per $1 spent.

The one area where this card may be a better choice is if you typically carry a balance. If you’re deciding between this card and the Platinum Card from American Express, for example, the Black Card is the clear winner as the Platinum Card is a charge card, meaning you’ll have to pay the balance in full every month. And the variable APR on the Chase Sapphire Reserve is 16.99% to 23.99% versus the Black Card’s APR of 15.99%.

Who should get this card

This card could be a good fit for someone who wants a card with high-end travel perks and rewards but at the lowest APR in the category.

Advantages
  • Points take on double value when redeemed for airfare, so 50,000 points can be redeemed for $1,000 in airfare
  • Points redeemed as a statement credit or into a U.S. bank account take on 50% more value. So, 50,000 points can be redeemed for $750 cash back.
  • If you take advantage of it, the $100 airline incidental fees credit and the $100 Global Entry application reduce the first-year ownership cost to $295.
  • The APR on this card is lower than other luxury travel rewards cards
Disadvantages
  • To receive the bonus point benefit, air travel must be booked through the Mastercard Loyalty Edge program.
  • Other premium travel cards give greater rewards and in more categories.
  • There's no sign-up bonus.

Fees and APR

  • You’ll pay a variable APR of 15.99%.
  • Enjoy an introductory 0% APR offer for 15 billing cycles on balance transfers that post to your account within 45 days of account opening. After that it’s a variable 15.99%
  • This card has an annual fee of $495.
  • There’s a balance transfer fee of 3%.
  • There’s no foreign transaction fee for purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Late payments won’t affect your APR but there is a $37 late payment fee.

How this card compares

Mastercard® Titanium Card™
Card Details
  • Brushed Stainless Steel - Patented Card Design
  • Luxury Card Rewards Program
  • 2% Value for Airfare Redemptions
  • 1% Value for Cash Back Redemptions
  • 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge™
  • Exclusive Luxury Card Travel Benefits
  • Members-Only LUXURY MAGAZINE
  • Annual Fee: $195 ($95 for each Authorized User)
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 15.99% Variable
Annual Fee $195
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 15 months

The Mastercard Titanium is a more affordable option with many of the same perks. For $195 a year, you can earn a flat 1 point per $1 spent, although if booking airfare through the Loyalty Edge program you can double the value of those points and access to the luxury card concierge.  But there’s no Global Pass reimbursement, $100 airline credit or airport lounge access. Cash-back rewards with this card are also a flat 1 percent to the Black Card’s 1.5%.

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠
Card Details
  • Earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points on travel and at restaurants.
  • Earn 1X Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points on all other purchases.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99% to 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. These APRs will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Annual Fee $450; each additional card: $75 per year.
Balance Transfers Intro APR

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card’s boosted redemption value when using the Chase portal and a generous rewards program make this card a stand-out among travel rewards cards offering big value in spite of the price tag. Since Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be used for everything from flights to lodging to cruises, this also makes it one of the most flexible redemption programs among travel cards. Where it really shines is the 50,000 point sign-up bonus worth as much as $750 if used for travel booked through the Chase Website.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.