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Perks and Problems with the MasterCard Gold Card

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It may not be as pricey or exclusive as the Amex Centurion (Black) Card, but the recently introduced MasterCard Gold Card is one of the most expensive premium credit cards on the market, with a $995 annual fee. TPG Contributor Richard Kerr runs through the benefits to determine whether or not it’s worth it.

Earlier this year MasterCard introduced the new Luxury Card portfolio, including the $495 Black Card and two other Luxury Card versions: the Titanium Card with a $195 annual fee and the $995 annual fee Gold Card. I included the Gold Card in my most recent round of credit card applications because of the 50,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days of account opening, worth $1,000 in free air, hotel, car or cruise travel. Today, I’ll go through the pros and cons of this card based on using it for a few months.

Let me start by saying I love Barclaycard, the managing bank for this product. As a part of the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) benefits for active duty military, it waives the annual fee for credit cards, including the $995 for this card! But would I recommend you pay the annual fee for the benefits of this card? Let’s take a look.

PERKS

Somewhat Impressive Design

The packaging was a bit cheap for a $995 card, but made an impression nonetheless.
The packaging made an impression — but it wasn’t what you’d expect for a $995 card.

Things started out promising when the box for the card showed up two days after I was approved. The gold box has a form-fitting plastic holder for the card and two pocket guides giving a brief overview of the benefits. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys a few oohs and aahs when you hand over your card, this will certainly do the trick. It weighs twice as much as Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and is supposedly constructed with 24k gold. I can’t really tell which part of the card is made of this material, but it has gotten a few second looks when I’ve handed it over for payment.

2% Cash Back Toward Travel

You earn 1 point per dollar on all purchases, but each point is worth 2 cents toward statement credits or free airfare, car, cruise or hotel nights. Travel must be booked through the My Luxury Card travel portal. A flat 2% cash-back card is enticing, but can be had for a much lower annual fee with products like the Citi Double Cash Card, which offers up to 2% cash back.

$200 Airline Fee Reimbursement and Global Entry Application Fee

Charges for airfare, baggage fees, upgrades, in-flight beverages or lounge access are eligible to receive a $200 annual airline credit each calendar year. The $200 airline fee credit, $100 Global Entry reimbursement and the 50,000-point sign-up bonus means you could come out $365 ahead after your first year — not really a screaming deal compared to what else is out there. Plus, plenty of other cards offer Global Entry application fee credits, and less expensive products like the Platinum Card from American Express offer $200 airline fee credits as well.

PROBLEMS

Annual Fee

I was hoping perhaps the marketing literature for the card left something out that would make a $995 annual fee worthwhile. With cards like the Citi Prestige and The Platinum Card from American Express offering more valuable points plus Priority Pass lounge access and free hotel nights for half the annual fee of the Gold Card, the Gold Card is a particularly hard sell.

Appearance

Instead of looking like luxury gold, the card more resembles a faded pastel.
Instead of looking like luxury gold, the card more resembles a faded pastel.

The card really has a faded off-yellow look rather than a luxurious gold hue. The pattern on the back of the card is also a bit odd, and really doesn’t look like how you’d expect a nearly $1,000 card to appear.

Travel Perks

I’ve skimmed through the 405-page travel benefits book, which is online at myluxurycardconcierge.com. The vast majority of the offerings are 10% discounts on services which I’d rarely use and benefits that are available through much cheaper Citi or American Express cards.

The other travel protections and services the card offers — like a conciergetrip cancellation insurance, baggage delay protection and a rental car CDW — are nice, but again are available on cards with a much lower annual fee.

Is the card worth it?

The back of the card has a peculiar design, and just does not feel like a luxury card besides the weight.
The back of the card has a peculiar design, and just does not feel like a luxury card besides the weight.

After having it in my wallet for a few months, I’m not sure why someone would pay $995 for the Gold Card unless they really want to wow a few restaurant servers or car rental clerks with its unique design. Even with its weight, the whole appearance of the card and the packaging does not feel like the luxury you would expect. I personally think the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card and Citi Prestige look better than this card — and they offer much more valuable benefits at significantly lower fees ($395 and $450, respectively).

While I think MasterCard may have missed the mark in offering this card without something that puts it over the top, I cannot complain and am very grateful I can enjoy these perks and the $1,200 in free travel for getting the card. That said, those who can’t get the annual fee waived should probably look elsewhere.

Would you consider applying for the Gold Card?

Citi Prestige® Card

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  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year, and receive a statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre √®
  • 4th night hotel benefit for any hotel stay at hotels booked through the Citi Prestige® Concierge.
  • Earn 40,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
  • Points are redeemable for a $532 flight on any airline or $400 in gift cards.
  • Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels.
  • Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
  • 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 15.49%* (Variable) $450 0% Excellent Credit