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How the Mastercard Black Card compares to other luxury credit cards

July 18, 2020
9 min read
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When it comes to luxurious credit cards, there's nothing more eye-catching than the infamous "Black Card." More often than not when we think of Black Card, we're referring to the invitation-only Amex Centurion card, an exclusive product reserved for Amex's top-spending customers.

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But there's a lesser-known Mastercard® Black Card™, which offers luxury travel in exchange for a $495 annual fee and $195 for each authorized user. How do this card's benefits stack up against other premium credit cards in the same price range? We're going to review the premium perks of the Mastercard Black Card and determine if there are better choices for your wallet.

Related reading: Battle of the premium travel rewards cards: Which is the best?

Black Card overview

The Mastercard Black Card is one of three products offered by Luxury Card. It's designed with a unique black-PVD-coated stainless steel front and carbon back. Because of its alluring name, the Black Card gets the most attention.

Let's start with the first thing most people look at when applying for a new card: the welcome bonus. The Black Card doesn't offer any sort of sign-up bonus, which immediately puts it at a disadvantage compared to other cards in the same annual fee range.

The Black Card earns one point for every one dollar spent, with no bonus categories to boost your return. You have two main redemption options: cash back or airfare. You can redeem your points for 2 cents each towards airfare, putting it well ahead of the competition. However, you can get significantly higher returns by transferring points from Chase, Citi or Amex to airline partners as opposed to redeeming them directly through the portal.

When it comes to the Black Card's 1.5% cash back rate, non-premium cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the Citi® Double Cash Card also offer at least 1.5% cash back on purchases (Citi Double Cash offers up to 2% cash back; 1% when you buy, plus 1% as you pay). For a limited time, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card even allows you to redeem points at a 1.5 cents each towards select purchases.

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Of course earning and burning are only a part of the premium credit card equation, with many people choosing to pay hefty annual fees in order to unlock luxury travel perks. The Black Card offers an up to $100 annual airline credit (which can be used on airfare), a Priority Pass Select membership, an up to $100 Global Entry / TSA PreCheck application fee credit every five years and access to a VIP concierge 24/7. These perks are fairly standard on just about every premium credit card on the market.

Terms and Conditions apply.

Related reading: The best Mastercard credit cards of 2020

Black Card travel coverage and benefits

Casa Del Mar, available via onefinestay, is a three bedroom villa in Bali. (Photo courtesy of onefinestay)
You can book Casa Del Mar, a three bedroom villa in Bali, via onefinestay. (Photo courtesy of onefinestay)

The Black Card comes with all the travel and purchase protections you expect to come with a premium product. Travelers receive protections including:

  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance. Receive secondary coverage for a covered, round-trip purchase when you use the card. You can be reimbursed for the cost of the non-refundable, round-trip expenses up to $5,000 per person if accidental covered events cause you to cancel or interrupt your trip for a covered reason.
  • Travel assistance. Receive Master Trip Travel Assistance, Medical Assistance, and Master Legal Referral Service when you travel 50 miles or more from home.
  • Baggage delay insurance. You can be reimbursed for covered items for up to $100 a day at a maximum of three qualifying days for delays of more than four hours from the time you arrive at your destination (arrival at your primary residence is excluded).
  • No foreign transaction fees. Take this card when you travel abroad and don't worry about paying fees every time you swipe it.
  • Travel Accident Insurance. Receive up to $250,000 coverage for eligible common carrier accidental death and dismemberment when you charge your entire travel fare to your eligible card for a covered trip.
  • Auto Rental Collision Waiver. The card comes with secondary coverage for covered damages for a rental car when you pay for it using the card and decline the coverage offered by the rental agency.
  • Onefinestay. Receive access to thousands of rental homes and villas around the world, plus a 10% discount on eligible bookings.
  • Mastercard® Priceless®. Enjoy invitation-only, once-in-a-lifetime experiences under Priceless Cities® and Priceless Golf®.

The Black Card also comes with the following benefits:

  • Supplemental coverage for damage or theft of your cellphone
  • Enroll and take three eligible rides in a month using the card and get a $5 Lyft credit
  • Use the card to earn 5% cash rewards on eligible Boxed orders for use on future purchases
  • Receive free two-day shipping and free return shipping on eligible purchases when you sign up for a complimentary ShopRunner membership with the Black Card
  • Earn double the points for the tickets you buy via Fandango with the card, 250 points per ticket. Rack up 500 points and earn a $5 VIP + reward.

Alternatives to the Mastercard Black Card

If you are intrigued by the Black Card, odds are you're looking to add a premium card to your wallet to enhance your travel lifestyle. If the Black Card doesn't fit your needs, there are plenty of alternatives to choose from.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

If you're looking for a card to boost your earning rate and help you rack up points faster, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great choice, earning 3x on travel and dining. It charges a higher annual fee of $550, but it also offers a $300 annual travel credit that knocks your out-of-pocket cost well below that of the Black Card. Chase Ultimate Rewards also wins on the redemption side, allowing you to book travel through the Chase portal with a 50% bonus or transfer points to Chase's airline and hotel transfer partners to unlock some incredibly high value rewards.

Existing limited-time perks include: Pay Yourself Back, with each point worth 1.5 cents towards a statement credit used to offset purchases at grocery stores, home improvement stores and dining establishments through September 2021; expansion of the card's $300 annual travel credit, with the remaining balance automatically applied to purchases at grocery stores and gas stations through the end of the year; and the renewal annual fee lowered to $450 after July 1 through the end of 2020, replacing the previous $100 statement credit.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

If you're primarily looking for luxury benefits, The Platinum Card® from American Express may be a better choice. With its $695 annual fee (see rates and fees), the Platinum card comes with the most comprehensive airport lounge access around, including a Priority Pass membership, access to Amex Centurion lounges and access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta. It also offers complimentary Gold elite status with both Marriott and Hilton and a host of other perks. Enrollment required for select benefits.

The annual fee is partially offset by an up to $200 annual airline incidental fee credit, a monthly $15 Uber credit ($20 in December) and an up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit, broken up into $50 from January to June and another $50 from July to December. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Bottom line

The Mastercard Black Card has a lower annual fee than its top competitors, but the redemption options are somewhat limited. While cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum allow you to transfer rewards to various airline partners, the Mastercard Black Card limits redemptions to 2% on airfare and 1.5% on everything else. This makes the card less competitive in today's premium card landscape given its high annual fee, limited benefits and lack of bonus categories.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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