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Bankrate’s guide to Mastercard credit cards
As one of the world’s largest payment networks, Mastercard has the connections to offer some of the top credit cards on the market. Thanks to partnerships with financial institutions like Capital One and Citibank, you can find the Mastercard logo on cards for cash back, credit building, students and more.
Bankrate has the essential information on Mastercard and the benefits of having a card connected to its global payment network.
Best Mastercard credit cards for 2021
||Bankrate Review Score
|Capital One Platinum Credit Card
||People building credit
|Citi Rewards+® Card
||Getting more value from small purchases
|Citi® Double Cash Card
||Flat-rate cash back card
|Citi® Simplicity Card (not currently available)
||Best intro APR period for purchases
|Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
|Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
||Dining and entertainment
|Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
||Good intro APR on purchases and flat-rate cash back
What is Mastercard?
Mastercard, much like Visa, isn’t a true issuer of credit cards but rather a payment network partnering with well-known banks and credit unions to provide credit card options. It offers products in areas including consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payment systems.
Mastercard also partners with merchants all over the world. Its global presence helped Mastercard earn nearly $17 billion in net revenue in 2019.
What sets Mastercard apart?
Many of Mastercard’s products offer benefits and rewards typical to the credit card business, but there are a few areas where the company distinguishes itself from competitors.
When opening a Mastercard credit card, you have the ability to qualify as a World or World Elite member, bringing you a variety of high-end features:
Mastercard World and World Elite benefits
- Free shipping with more than 140 online retailers
- Home sharing — options to choose from over 10,000 rentals worldwide
- The Priceless Cities travel experience program
- Identity theft protection
- Room upgrades
- Vacation packages
- Airport concierge service
Includes all World benefits, plus:
- Trip cancellation insurance
- 24-hour concierge
- Discounts on a variety of airlines, travel expenses, entertainment brands and more
Other Mastercard features
- Savings with Lyft: Mastercard and Lyft partnered in 2019, creating an opportunity for cardholders to ride at a discount. World Elite cardholders can earn $10 back in Lyft credit after taking five qualifying rides in each calendar month, limited to once per month.
- SecureCode: A private code made for your Mastercard account, SecureCode helps protect your card in over 122 countries worldwide.
- True Name™ Cards: To take a stand for inclusion and the LGBTQIA+ community, Mastercard worked with other financial institutions to introduce True Name cards in 2020. These cards allow applicants to choose their desired name without proof of a legal name change.
- Masterpass: Mastercard’s digital wallet, Masterpass, is designed for online, in-app and in-person shopping. Your card information and address can be stored electronically. Masterpass purchases are a secure way to shop and are also protected by Zero Liability for any unauthorized purchases.
Who are Mastercard credit cards good for?
Mastercard’s credit card options have a selection of different features that you can focus on to find the best option for you.
Rewards for on-the-go families
The Citi Rewards+® Card earns 2x ThankYou Points at supermarkets and gas stations on up to $6,000 in combined purchases each year, plus 1x ThankYou Points on all other purchases.
Incentive to earn cash back responsibly
The Citi® Double Cash Card has a two-part system for earning cash back: 1 percent when you make eligible purchases and another 1 percent when you pay for them on your monthly statement.
Making fair credit into better credit
With the Capital One Platinum Credit Card, you’ll be automatically considered for a higher credit limit after 6 months of on-time monthly payments. The card doesn’t charge an annual fee, a foreign transaction fee, a balance transfer fee or penalty APR.
Building credit while learning credit
Credit-building can be uncharted territory for students and other young adults, but cards like the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students can help show the way. You can apply with little or no credit history and even earn 1 percent cash back on all purchases.
Food, fun and more
The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card earns 3 percent cash back on dining and entertainment, 2 percent at grocery stores and 1 percent on all other eligible purchases. The lack of foreign transaction fees makes it a useful item to pack for your next overseas trip.
How we chose our top-rated Mastercard cards
Bankrate’s personal finance experts have evaluated the top Mastercard credit cards according to our 5-star rating system. The list of criteria for rating credit cards includes:
Whether the card offers cash back, travel points/miles or multi-purpose rewards for eligible purchases and the potential returns based on rewards rate (1 percent cash back per $1 spent, 1 mile per $1 spent, and so on).
Perks and benefits
Whether the card offers extras such as retail discounts, extended warranties on purchases, travel insurance and financial management tools.
Whether the card charges an annual fee and if so, how much the card’s overall value and benefits might offset the fee.
Whether the card has a sign-up bonus, a zero-interest welcome offer or similar sign-up incentive and how much it adds to the card’s overall value.
How the card’s annual percentage rate (APR) compares with current averages as an indicator of cost and value.
Foreign transaction fee
Whether the card charges a foreign transaction fee for international purchases and how the fee affects the card’s overall value.
Learn more about Mastercard credit cards
Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, loans, mortgages and other personal finance products for Bankrate since 2018. His work has also appeared on websites including Nasdaq.com, Zillow.com and The Simple Dollar. He was previously an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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