Mastercard® Gold Card™ review
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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 advantages and disadvantages?
- 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
- 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: 17.24% (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.
At a more accessible $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.
Though Luxury Card touts a better redemption rate than the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card’s 50 percent redemption boost for travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the Mastercard Gold’s rewards are less flexible and valuable in a few ways.
Earning rewards with the Mastercard Gold Card couldn’t be simpler; you earn unlimited 1X points on all purchases. Even better, your rewards are rounded up to the nearest dollar. So, for example, if your purchase is $63.50, you’ll earn 64 points.
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.
Here’s where the terms and conditions apply. 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 rotating options the Luxury Card EXPERIENCES program curates, 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. See our comparison table below for more details. 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.
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:
- Cellphone protection
- Baggage delay insurance: $100 per day for up to three days
- Auto rental collision waiver coverage
- Trip cancellation or interruption insurance: Up to $5,000 per insured person
- Travel accident insurance: Up to $250,000 for common carrier accidental death and dismemberment
Unfortunately, the card offers no extended warranty coverage or basic purchase, price or return protections.
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 “Luxury Card EXPERIENCES” and “Off the Beaten Path” specialty travel opportunities that embed you into local culture. 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 Master Trip Travel Assistance, Medical Assistance and Master Legal Referral Service.
- Porsche Experience Centers experience: Speed demons rejoice–cardmembers receive a 90-minute driving experience with “exclusive perks” and personal coaching at the Atlanta and Los Angeles Porsche Experience Centers.
Rates and fees
When you see that 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 (17.24 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 17.24 percent (variable) 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 the ordinarily rich.
If you’re leaning toward more attainable cards like the Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve, these options will probably rake in more rewards and usable benefits.
But if you’ve fallen in love with the Mastercard Gold’s impressive gold-plated weight and run-of-the-mill cards just won’t cut it anymore, the metallic Mastercard® Black Card™ is also an alternative worth considering.
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 Porsche joy rides–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.