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Mastercard® Gold Card™ review: An overpriced status symbol?

If it’s status you’re after, this gold-plated card might be worth it if you can afford the annual fee

 /  8 min
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Snapshot

2.9

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 2.9 stars out of 5

Bottom line

This card comes with impressive perks that can help it live up to its reputation as a status symbol. But when it comes to luxury and value, other cards match many of the Gold card’s benefits  with a smaller annual fee.

Image of Mastercard® Gold Card™
Apply now Lock
On Luxury Card's secure site

Rewards rate

1X - 2%
Info

Annual fee

$995 ($295 for each Authorized User added to the account)

Intro offer

N/A
Info

Regular APR

19.24% Variable

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 – 850)
Info

Mastercard® Gold Card™ Overview

Much of the world of luxury credit cards is shrouded in intrigue. Luxury cards’ exclusive benefits are often for ultrawealthy cardholders’ eyes only, and unless you meet many issuers’ mystery requirements and receive an invitation, these cards can be closed off to you even if you have excellent credit.

The Mastercard® Gold Card™ offers an opportunity to snag one of these elite cards without VIP status. The Mastercard Gold is the top-of-the-line card from Barclays’ luxury card trio and the living picture of a status symbol—it’s a 24K gold-plated stainless steel credit card that weighs in at a hefty 22g (four more grams than other premium cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express).

But is this card worth the jaw-dropping $995 annual fee, or is it just a conversation piece? Read on to see if the Mastercard Gold is actually worth its weight in gold, or if premium travel credit cards give it some competition at half the price.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • Checkmark

    Comprehensive portfolio of exclusive, luxury travel benefits

  • Checkmark

    Unlimited 2 cent-per-point redemption for cash back and airfare through Loyalty Edge

  • Checkmark

    15-billing cycle, 0 percent intro APR for balance transfers made within the first 45 days (19.24 percent variable ongoing APR)

Cons

  • Must spend nearly $50,000 each year to just offset the annual fee

  • Purchase protections and airline credit coverage valued at less than those from travel cards with half the annual fee

  • Rewards might also not be as valuable as the points from lower-priced cards

A deeper look at the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: 1X points on all purchases
  • Welcome offer: N/A
  • Annual fee: $995 ($295 for each authorized user)
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: 0% APR for the first 15 billing cycles on transfers made within the first 45 days
  • Regular APR: 19.24% (variable)

Current welcome offer

The Mastercard Gold Card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, and that doesn’t make the staggering price tag any more enticing.

For a lower $695 annual fee, the Amex Platinum offers an impressive 100,000-point intro bonus after spending $6,000 in the first six months of card membership, which is worth up to $2,100 according to our latest points and miles valuations.

Rewards rate

Though the Gold Card touts a better redemption rate than the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card’s 50 percent redemption boost for travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, its rewards are less flexible and valuable in a few ways.

Earning rewards

Earning rewards with the Mastercard Gold Card couldn’t be simpler; you earn unlimited 1X points on all purchases.

But keep in mind that if you fail to make a minimum payment online, the cardmember agreement states that you’ll lose the points you earned that month rather than just take on interest charges.

Redeeming rewards

Your Mastercard Gold Card points are boosted to double value, but only for airfare and cash back redemptions, and all travel must be reserved through the Loyalty Edge program’s booking system. That means your points only carry a 1:1 value for hotel and rental car reservations, and you can’t transfer your points to another travel partner or use them anywhere else if you find a better deal.

In contrast, reward programs like Chase’s offer additional point value with its variety of transfer travel partners. In fact, we estimate Chase Ultimate Rewards points can reach a market value of 2 cents per point because of excellent transfer partner deals. By comparison, your Mastercard Gold Card travel experience opportunities are restricted to select experiences that may rotate, and there are only 3,000-plus properties to stay at versus the 5,600-plus with IHG Hotels & Resorts alone through Chase.

Besides travel, you can redeem your points for cash back in the form of a direct deposit or statement credits, or for gift cards and merchandise.

How much are points worth?

It takes 100 Mastercard Gold Card points to equal $1 when you redeem for a car rental or hotel stay, meaning each point is worth 1 cent. But when redeeming for airfare or cash back, your points are worth 2 cents apiece (50 points per $1 redemption value).

The card terms state that your point value may vary depending on the offer if you redeem for gift cards or merchandise.

Other cardholder perks

The Mastercard Gold’s portfolio of benefits offer more exclusive value than the card’s rewards program—if you take advantage of the travel perks. Strangely, given its much higher annual fee, the Mastercard Gold carries fewer travel credits and protections than the Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum cards, and its offerings are weaker too.

Travel credits

As a Mastercard Gold member, you’ll receive an up to $100 automatic statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fees, plus another $200 in potential annual airline credits. These airline credits will cover flight-related purchases, including airfare, baggage fees and upgrades.

Trip and shopping protections

Paying with your card will also stack on a range of travel protections, including:

Unfortunately, the card offers no extended warranty coverage or basic purchase, price or return protections.

Travel benefits

Mastercard Gold’s most valuable perks are its wealth of member-only travel services. As a cardholder, you’ll enjoy:

  • Luxury Card Travel program: Offers a bevy of travel resources, including an average value of up to $500 in benefits like upgrades and spa credits per stay at more than 3,000 properties. You’ll also have access to select Luxury Card experiences like exclusive wine and food tastings and the chance to meet cast members after a Broadway play. If you’re in need of VIP treatment, the Airport Meet & Assist program has a professional meet and escort you quickly through the airport.
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge access: This perk provides complimentary membership to more than 1,300 Priority Pass select airport lounges around the world.
  • 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge: Luxury Card Concierge agents provide a more comprehensive service than many similar services, with standout examples that include arranging proposals and post-event meet and greets.
  • Mastercard Priceless experiences: These invitation-only events tout “once-in-a-lifetime” experiences with “insider opportunities” through the Priceless Cities, Priceless Golf and Priceless Surprises event categories.
  • TCS World Travel access:By spending a minimum of $35,000 to qualify, you can join TCS World Travel luxury jet expeditions or coordinate your own itinerary aboard a private jet. Plus, members receive a $1,000 gift card for any trip they take in 2021.
  • Travel assistance services: If you get in a pinch and need some help while you travel, this 24/7 benefit can extend a helping hand with MasterTrip Travel Assistance, Medical Assistance and Master Legal Referral Service.

Rates and fees

Since the Mastercard Gold’s point values are on par with (or slightly below in some cases) those of Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, the biggest cause for concern is the $995 annual fee. You’d need to spend a whopping $4,146 per month—or $49,750 per year—just to break even. And if you’re thinking about adding an authorized user to help earn more rewards, know that each extra user will add another $295 yearly fee.

If you’re not fazed by the cost of membership, the other rates and fees are normal. Like any self-respecting travel card, there are no foreign transaction fees. And there is good news if you need to pay off another card—you may qualify for a 15-billing cycle, 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers made within the first 45 days (19.24 percent variable APR after that, with a balance transfer fee of 3 percent or $5, whichever is greater). There isn’t a zero-interest offer for purchases, but luckily the ongoing APR is below the current average interest rate.

How the Mastercard Gold Card compares to other premium travel cards

Depending on what position you’re approaching the Mastercard Gold Card from, its value is mainly measured by its entry cost. The potential rewards aren’t a great bang for your buck no matter how you slice it, so the deciding factor with this card will be how equipped you are to use its travel benefits. The Mastercard Gold could be a bit expensive compared to more traditional, premium travel cards, or it might not provide enough opulent benefits compared to other luxury cards.

As far as luxury cards go, the Mastercard Gold Card isn’t as rewarding or hard to attain as legendary cards like the American Express Centurion Card (aka the Amex Black Card) or as glamorous as the diamond-encrusted and palladium-lined credit cards for the uber-wealthy, but it should suffice for someone looking to show off status and wealth.

If you’re leaning toward more attainable cards, these options will probably rake in more rewards and usable benefits.

Image of Mastercard® Gold Card™
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
On Luxury Card's secure site

Annual fee

$995 ($295 for each Authorized User added to the account)

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

1X - 2%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 – 850)
Info
Image of Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
On Chase's secure site

Annual fee

$550

Intro offer

60,000 points
Info

Rewards rate

1x - 10x
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 – 850)
Info
Image of The Platinum Card® from American Express
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
On American Express's secure site

Annual fee

$695

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 points
Info

Rewards rate

5X - 5X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Mastercard Gold Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve® card

Compared to the Gold Card’s annual fee, the Sapphire Reserve’s $550 annual fee for the primary user and $75 annual fee for additional users look like quite the bargain. But the Sapphire Reserve doesn’t stop with just a lower annual fee. It also offers a sign-up bonus and a $300 anniversary travel credit — $100 more than the Gold Card’s credit. You also get better travel protections with the Sapphire Preferred, including higher coverage for travel accident insurance and trip delay/interruption insurance.

There’s also Chase’s top-of-the-line rewards program, which offers more bonus points for your travel purchases compared to the Mastercard Gold Card, especially if you book your travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. While Sapphire Reserve points redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards are worth just 1.5 cents each (less than the 2-cent-per-point value you get with the Gold Card when redeeming for airfare or cash back), the former earns rewards at a higher rate. That means theReserve card can quickly make up the difference and come out ahead when it’s time to redeem your rewards. Plus, you have the option to transfer your points. This level of versatility can make it easier for you to find the best deal possible when booking travel.

The Mastercard Gold Card does have a few standout perks that you won’t find with the Sapphire Preferred, but most of these perks, including cellphone coverage, the lack of a penalty APR and one of the best and lowest interest rate around for a rewards card, likely won’t justify the high annual fee for many cardholders.

Mastercard Gold Card vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Mastercard Gold Card’s redemption value for cash back is a standout option, especially compared to the Amex Platinum Card, which offers redemption values under 1 cent per point if you redeem for many options other than travel. Beyond that, the Mastercard Gold Card struggles to keep up with the Amex Platinum Card and its slew of benefits, despite charging a higher annual fee for primary users and for additional users.

While the Mastercard Gold Card’s credits can help take a bite out of the card’s annual fee, the Amex Platinum card’s credits have the potential to help you completely offset the annual fee and come out ahead.

Thse credits range from hotel and airline fee credits to lifestyle credits for shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue, membership at an Equinox fitness club and a Walmart+ membership. Some of these credits might only appeal to select groups of people (like Walmart shoppers and fitness enthusiasts), which can make it hard to get maximum value out of the Platinum Card. But since all of the Platinum Card’s credits are estimated to be worth over $1,500, just taking advantage of a few of the credits can still make the Platinum card worth the cost.

Best cards to with pair the Mastercard Gold Card

Since the Mastercard Gold Card earns flat-rate rewards on all purchases, the perfect partner card should prop up this card’s lower-value redemption options.

For example, brand-specific travel cards like hotel credit cards or cards for your favorite airlines that might not be supported by the Loyal Edge rewards program may earn more valuable rewards on the 1:1 redemption rate purchases.

Bankrate’s take–Is the Mastercard Gold Card worth it?

If you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of luxury travel but rewards and money-saving perks are still a priority, then it might be hard to justify the Mastercard Gold Card’s $995 annual fee.

But if you’re in the market for a card that will let you jump into private jets and you spend well over $50,000 a year, the Mastercard Gold could tide you over until you get an exclusive invitation to a more impressive luxury card.

Written by
Garrett Yarbrough
Credit Card Reviews Writer

Bankrate expert Garrett Yarbrough strives to make navigating credit cards and credit building smooth sailing for his readers. After regularly featuring his credit card, credit monitoring and identity theft analysis on NextAdvisor.com, he joined the CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com teams as a staff writer to develop product reviews and comprehensive credit card guides focused on cash back, credit scores and card offers.

Edited by Editor, Product

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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.