Mastercard® Black Card™ review
“Mastercard Black: a high annual fee luxury travel card designed for the person who values unique concierge services” – Erica Sandberg
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This luxury card strives for the mystique of exclusive, invitation-only cards, but misses the mark. While it comes with a few luxury perks, the card’s price tag is too high given its limited rewards.
Mastercard® Black Card™ Overview
The Mastercard Black Card is part of the Mastercard Luxury Card trio, which also includes the Mastercard® Titanium Card™ and Mastercard® Gold Card™. Cards in this collection are full of travel perks and offer access to numerous upgrades. Like most luxury credit cards, these come with high fees and can carry a mystique that makes them seem reserved for the wealthy or famous.
And while this luxury travel credit card is impressive to feel—it weighs 22 grams and is made from patented black-PVD-coated metal — its annual fee is just as hefty, costing you $495 a year (plus $195 for each authorized user). The rewards rate also carries little everyday value, placing a large incentive on airfare redemptions. Even if you maximize the value of your redemptions, you’ll be hard-pressed to recoup the nearly $500 annual fee. Average cardholders will almost certainly be better served by a travel card with a lower annual fee, especially if you take advantage of airline and hotel transfer partners.
What are the pros and cons?
Interesting travel perks, including airline credit, far-reaching airport lounge access, concierge services and up to $500 worth of travel-related upgrades, if used to the card’s full capacity.
0 percent intro APR for the first 15 billing cycles on balance transfers within the first 45 days (then 19.24 percent), making the card somewhat ideal for high-earning debt reducers.
Luxury gifts from top brands as detailed in LUXURY MAGAZINE® vary from jewelry and accessories to home and design items.
The high annual fee on this card could make it an impractical option for the everyday consumer.
No introductory rate on purchases, so the regular APR rate will apply immediately to any new purchases you make and carry over each month.
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: 1 point for every $1 spent (1.5 percent bonus for cash back redemptions, 2 percent bonus for airfare redemptions)
- Welcome offer: N/A
- Annual fee: $495 ($195 for each authorized user)
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: 0 percent intro APR for the first 15 billing cycles on balance transfers within first 45 days
- Regular APR: 19.24 percent variable
Current welcome offer
The Mastercard Black Card does not currently offer a welcome bonus, which dings its value a bit more. The card does have an intro APR offer on balance transfers, but none on purchases.
For most, this might be reason enough to stop considering the card. Cards with astronomical annual fees like this one often include welcome offers that more than recoup that first year’s fee. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card Charges a comparable annual fee of $595, but comes with an 60,000-point welcome offer after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. You can redeem these points for up to $900 toward travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. That value alone would offset the card’s annual fee for two years.
You might expect a luxury card to have a superior rewards program. But the Mastercard Black earns rewards at a remarkably low rate for a card in its class. Even though you can get double the redemption value when you use points to cover airfare, this likely won’t be enough to make up for the card’s low rewards rate. While most other cards don’t include 2X redemption bonuses typically earn rewards at a much faster rate.
This is a flat-rate travel rewards card that earns at the same rate for all purchases. For every $1 you make in purchases you will earn 1 point. That’s low compared to the rate offered by many of the top flat-rate travel and cash back cards, but this is offset by the card’s boosted redemption value, especially on airfare redemptions.
While cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit card can earn twice as much back on paper because they earn 2 miles on all purchases, their rewards may not offer redemption values as high as the Mastercard Black card. The Mastercard Black card’s strongest asset is how much rewards are worth when they’re redeemed.
You can stretch the value of your points further by redeeming them through the Luxury Card rewards site — notably, you can double your point value by redeeming for airfare.
If you book airline travel with your points, they will be worth 2 cents per point — twice as much as the typical travel rewards card point value. So, if you’ve made purchases of $50,000 and have 50,000 points, you can redeem your points for $1,000 in airfare. If you want to convert your points to cash back rewards, you’ll get a 1.5-cent-per-point value.
These redemption options are the best you can hope for with the Mastercard Black card. You have the opportunity to redeem for hotel or rental car bookings, but the card’s terms state that the amount of points needed can change at any time and there’s no boost or predetermined value of your points with these redemption options. If you want to maximize your rewards with this card, it’s best to stick with cash back rewards or airfare redemptions.
Other cardholder perks
Luxury cards wouldn’t be luxurious without cardholder perks. There are several travel benefits and gifts worth noting on the Mastercard Black. Some of these carry real value, while others compliment the unique lifestyle of those in pursuit of luxury.
For starters, you’ll receive an annual airline credit of up to $100 toward qualifying airline purchases. You’ll also receive an up to $100 Global Entry application fee credit and get access to the Priority Pass Select, giving you access to more than 1,300 airport lounges in more than 500 cities worldwide.
The card provides you 24/7 access to the Luxury Card Concierge—a service that helps you with everything from booking your travel and vacations to locating a must-have, hard-to-find gift for someone. If you’re traveling to one of the 3,000 featured properties, you’re treated to upgrades worth an average of up to $500. These properties include brands like Waldorf Astoria, Ritz-Carlton, Montage, The Peninsula Hotels and several others.
These features are where you’ll really recoup the value of your card’s annual fee. However, travelers who don’t plan to stay at any of the brands available in the concierge service will struggle to find value with the concierge perk.
Luxury Card app
Cardmembers have exclusive access to the Luxury Card app where you can manage your account and access your member benefits on mobile.
Cardmembers will receive an exclusive publication, LUXURY MAGAZINE, filled with information on travel, fashion, real estate and more. These publications also feature cover art from an array of artists, making them a limited-edition collector’s item for members.
Mastercard® Special offers
In addition to the luxury benefits and extras you’ll access with your luxury card, Mastercard has its own suite of perks and partnerships with many popular retailers like DoorDash, HelloFresh, Lyft, Fandango and ShopRunner (terms and conditions apply).
Cardholders of the Mastercard Black receive luxurious gifts from some of “the world’s most iconic and recognized brand names.”
Rates and fees
If you like the idea of the travel perks and rewards, it’s going to cost you with this card. The Mastercard Black has a pricey annual fee of $495, plus a $195 fee for each authorized user. Some luxury black cards have annual fees in the thousands, so this may sound like a bargain to some cardholders. The good news is, this card does not charge any foreign transaction fees, which is helpful if you need to use your card while traveling abroad.
Although the Mastercard Black Card has a 0 percent intro balance transfer APR for the first 15 billing cycles (balance transfers made within the first 45 days; variable APR after will be 19.24 percent), all purchases will be at the 19.24 percent variable APR. If you do initiate a balance transfer, it’s subject to a $5 or 3 percent fee, whichever is greater. Cash advances are subject to a 29.49 percent variable APR and a $10 or 5 percent cash advance fee, whichever is greater.
The Mastercard Black Card’s issuer does not advertise a specific credit limit range, but as with most credit cards, it’s safe to assume the limit you qualify for will depend on your creditworthiness.
How the Mastercard Black Card compares to other travel cards
The Mastercard Black Card technically falls into the luxury card category, but unlike most luxury cards, you apply for it instead of receiving an invitation. Plus, the card’s numerous travel benefits make it more like a travel credit card. So how does it compare to other popular travel cards?
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Mastercard Black Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has a $95 annual fee, a much more affordable number than that of the Mastercard Black; however, the Sapphire Preferred doesn’t have an introductory APR on purchases or balance transfers. Unlike with the Mastercard Black Card, you do receive a welcome offer of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points once you spend $4,000 in the first three months with the Sapphire Preferred.
Mastercard Black Card vs. the American Express® Gold Card
If you’re looking for a great travel card to accompany you on trips — whether they’re luxury getaways or casual escapes — the American Express Gold Card outshines the Mastercard Black Card on nearly all fronts.
The Amex Gold boasts an impressive 4X points rewards rate for purchases made at U.S. restaurants and U.S. supermarkets and 3X points on flights booked with airlines or on amextravel.com. It comes with a lower $250 annual fee and a welcome offer worth up to $1,260 based on Bankrate’s latest credit card point valuations. While Amex points are worth 1 cent each when you redeem for flights with Amex Travel, Bankrate values Amex points at around 2.1 cents each on average if you redeem with a high-value travel transfer partner. This gives Amex points a potentially higher value than points redeemed with your Mastercard Black card, all while earning up to four times as many points for each purchase.
In addition to its stellar rewards rates, the Amex Gold also comes with a host of travel perks and other cardholder benefits that, if used, can easily recoup the card’s annual fee. While it isn’t a luxury card, the Amex Gold is a highly valued card and is difficult to pass up.
Best cards to pair with the Mastercard Black Card
If you want to carry the Mastercard Black Card, you should pair it with a no-annual-fee card that offers a 0 percent introductory rate on purchases. This way you will have the best of both introductory worlds—intro APR on purchases and on balance transfers. You may also search for a card with a more lucrative rewards rate overall. If you don’t mind keeping track of rewards tiers, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers some of the best rewards rates on travel and other popular spending categories, all for no annual fee.
Bankrate’s take — Is the Mastercard Black Card worth it?
You’ll have the best chance of getting your money’s worth from this expensive card if you travel to one or more of its featured 3,000 properties throughout the year. You’ll also want to take advantage of the estimated up to $500 in upgrades with each stay. Using the card’s travel credits (up to a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee and up to a $100 airline credit) can also help offset its cost.
That said, most of the value from this card comes from its unique perks and luxury benefits. If you can’t use these major benefits, then it’s best to look at other travel or luxury cards.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.