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Mastercard is one of the major credit card networks, along with Visa, Discover and American Express. While the differences between networks like Mastercard and Visa tend to be minimal, each network comes with a slightly different host of benefits. Mastercard credit card benefits range from basic purchase protections at the Standard level to exclusive travel perks, discounts and services at the World Elite level. In addition to these benefits, Mastercard cardholders will likely also be eligible for card benefits from their card issuer, particularly if they have a rewards credit card. These additional benefits can include things like account management tools, travel and retail discounts, banking apps and more.
If you’re considering opening a Mastercard credit card, there are plenty of options to choose from. Mastercard credit cards are broken down into three tiers, including Standard, World and World Elite. Each tier comes with different associated benefits and perks, which we’ll explore below.
What is a Mastercard credit card?
As a credit card network, Mastercard facilitates transactions between card issuers and merchants. For example, if you have a Mastercard credit card from Capital One, and you use that card to make a purchase in a store, Mastercard processes the transaction between Capital One and the store, acting as a middleman to facilitate communication between the bank and the merchant.
Mastercard credit cards are issued by independent banks, credit unions and mid-to-large financial institutions. These include larger banks like Capital One and Citi, as well as smaller lenders like Navy Federal Credit Union and Deserve. Mastercard credit cards are easily identified by the Mastercard logo of two interlocking red and yellow circles.
What’s the difference between Standard, World and World Elite Mastercards?
Mastercard credit cards come in different tiers, with each tier associated with different benefits. These tiers include Standard, World and World Elite. Benefits can range from perks like zero liability protection to 24/7 concierge service and curated offers. While higher Mastercard tiers come with additional benefits, they are often also associated with higher annual fees. These benefits are typically at the discretion of the card issuer, so you should be sure to check with your bank and read the fine print before making a decision to open a new credit card.
|Zero liability protection||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Mastercard Global Service||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Mastercard ID Theft Protection||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Complimentary professional travel services||No||Yes||Yes|
|Mastercard hotel stay guarantee||No||Yes||Yes|
|Mastercard lowest hotel rate guarantee||No||Yes||Yes|
|Mastercard luxury hotel and resorts portfolio||No||Yes||Yes|
|Car, air, cruise and vacation packages||No||Yes||Yes|
|Mastercard Airport Concierge||No||Yes||Yes|
|World Elite Concierge||No||No||Yes|
Standard Mastercard benefits
The Mastercard Standard tier credit card is the lowest tier available, but it still comes with plenty of perks, including purchase protection and identity theft protection.
Zero liability protection
Zero liability protection protects cardholders in the event that someone makes an unauthorized purchase using their card. This includes purchases made online, in person, over the phone or at ATMs. In order to be eligible for zero liability protection, you need to report the fraudulent charges as soon as possible.
Mastercard Global Service
Mastercard Global Service is a nice perk for cardholders, especially those who travel frequently. This service allows you to report lost or stolen cards, access an emergency card replacement or cash advance, find ATMs, and get help with other questions or concerns you might have regarding your account.
Mastercard ID Theft Protection
Mastercard ID Theft Protection protects you from identity theft at no extra cost. The service monitors your credit report for potentially fraudulent activity, such as new cards or accounts opened in your name. If you are a victim of identity theft, you’ll also be assigned a resolution specialist to help guide you through the process.
World Mastercard benefits
The World Mastercard includes all of the perks and benefits that come with Standard Mastercards, as well as additional travel perks and upgrades.
Word Mastercard cardholders receive a free ShopRunner membership with their card, which provides access to free two-day shipping and free return shipping at over a hundred online retailers. If you do a lot of online shopping and want your packages to arrive more quickly, the free ShopRunner membership is a nice addition.
Cardholders are eligible for exclusive offers and experiences with the PGA tour. This includes access to private country clubs and golf courses, golf experiences and events.
Complimentary professional travel services
If you need help planning your trip, you can access complimentary professional travel services as a Mastercard World cardholder. You can get help from experienced travel advisors 24/7 to plan your trip online or by phone.
Mastercard hotel stay guarantee
World Mastercard benefits also include Mastercard’s hotel stay guarantee. If you stay at a three-star hotel or higher and encounter any problems, Mastercard will work with the hotel to make it right or find comparable accommodations.
Mastercard lowest hotel rate guarantee
If you book a hotel stay through the Mastercard Travel & Lifestyle Services program and find a lower rate somewhere else, Mastercard will refund the difference.
Mastercard luxury hotel and resorts portfolio
Cardholders can access additional benefits at over 3,000 hotels and resorts around the world, including complimentary breakfast for two each day, amenity credits (worth up to $100) and more.
Car, air, cruise and vacation packages
World Mastercard cardholders can save on hotel stays, car rentals and flight bookings through Mastercard’s Travel & Lifestyle Services. This is a great perk if you travel frequently and are looking to save money on common expenses or gain access to additional perks (like free status upgrades).
Mastercard airport concierge
If you’re looking for personalized service, you can’t beat Mastercard’s airport concierge service. World Mastercard cardholders can arrange for a personal agent to escort them through the airport at over 700 destinations.
If your cellphone is stolen or needs to be fixed, Mastercard offers $1,000 in yearly coverage for phone replacement and repairs. Note, however, that there is a $50 deductible and terms apply. Still, this benefit can come in handy if something happens to your phone when you’re traveling far from home.
Cardholders are eligible for a $5 Lyft credit once per month when they take three rides within a month. If you use Lyft often, this is a nice perk to take advantage of.
New DoorDash users can get three free months of membership, and DoorDash DashPass members will get $5 off their first two orders each month.
World Elite Mastercard benefits
The Mastercard World Elite tier is the highest tier credit card from Mastercard. In addition to the benefits that come with the previous tiers, World Elite comes with perks like Fandango discounts and World Elite concierge service.
For every $20 spent on movie tickets through Fandango, cardholders receive $5 off future movie tickets or at-home purchases. This is a great perk if you’re a movie fan.
World Elite concierge
If you’re looking for personal assistance for all things travel-related, Mastercard’s World Elite concierge service is a great benefit to have. This 24/7 concierge service can help you with anything from booking event tickets to purchasing gifts to making dinner reservations.
How to qualify for a Mastercard credit card
Mastercard does not directly issue credit cards to consumers; it partners with other financial institutions like banks and lenders. In order to qualify for a Mastercard credit card, you’ll need to apply for a card through one of these institutions.
While different lenders have different requirements for applicants, in general, you’ll need good to excellent credit and a history of responsible borrowing in order to qualify. In some cases, lenders may allow borrowers to see if they prequalify for a credit card without affecting their credit score. If you’re still working to raise your score or build your credit history, there are other options available, including secured credit cards and student credit cards.
The bottom line
Because different benefits and services can vary widely from card to card — including cards in the same Mastercard tier — you should be sure to compare different cards carefully and review all associated benefits in order to decide which Mastercard credit card is best for you. For most cardholders, the benefits from Mastercard may not be enough of a reason to choose a certain card in and of itself, but they represent nice additional features on top of the rewards a card already comes with.