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If you’re a Mastercard account holder, you may have noticed the label “World” or “World Elite” just above the two globes of the Mastercard logo. If so, you might have wondered what these terms mean, what differences there are between the two and whether it’s worth paying extra for a rewards card that’s part of either program. In this post, I’ll answer those questions and give an overview of which cards I think are the best for those interested in these Mastercard benefits.
The Standard Mastercard Program
The standard benefits of a plain old Mastercard that’s not part of the World or World Elite program will vary, based on the card issuer and the product. However, these benefits can include:
- Zero Liability — Waives the $50 maximum liability to card holders under the Fair Credit Billing Act for fraudulent charges.
- Mastercard Global Service — Provides emergency assistance including card replacement, cash advance, and ATM location.
- Identity Theft Resolution Services — Includes an ID theft resolution kit and access to specialists.
- Fuel Rewards Network — This is a discount program that works at gas stations, grocery stores and even restaurants. This benefit allows you to link your Mastercard to your Fuel Rewards Network account and earn additional rewards, rather than carry a separate discount card.
- Price Protection — You can be reimbursed if an eligible purchase experiences a price drop within 60 days of purchase.
- Extended Warranty — Doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for periods of up to 12 months on eligible purchases.
The World Mastercard Program
World Mastercards can come with the following additional package of benefits on top of the standard ones:
- Concierge Services — Phone representatives can assist you with gift buying and delivery, event tickets and other personal services.
- Enhanced Price Protection — World Mastercard holders receive this protection for up to 120 days, as opposed to 60 for standard Mastercard customers.
- Mastercard Airport Concierge — This is a paid meet and greet service that assists passengers with arrivals, departures, or changing planes at over 450 airports around the world. Card holders receive a 15% discount.
- Mastercard Travel Services — This service, operated by Carlson Wagonlit Travel, makes travel arrangements for card holders.
- World Luxury Hotels & Resorts — Offers room upgrades, free breakfast, early check-in and late checkout and special welcome amenities to card holders who book their stay through this hotel benefits program.
- Hotel Stay Guarantee — A Mastercard Lifestyle Manager will help if the 3-star or higher-rated hotel you book isn’t working out.
- Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee — If you find the same exact prepaid hotel stay for less, Mastercard will refund the difference.
- Onefinestay — Get a 10% discount on thousands of rental homes around the world. Amenities include guest services available 24/7, high-quality toiletries and free Wi-Fi.
- Mastercard Priceless Cities — Offers discounts and exclusive offers for luxury goods and services in select cities around the world.
- ShopRunner — When you order from over 140 online stores using ShopRunner, you’ll receive unlimited free two-day shipping and return shipping on purchases. Eligible retailers include Saks Fifth Avenue, Brooks Brothers, Tory Burch, Staples and 1-800-Flowers.com.
- Postmates — Get $5 off every purchase of $25 or more (not including delivery fees, tips and taxes) every time you order from hundreds of thousands of restaurants and stores across the U.S. with this on-demand delivery service.
This program includes popular travel rewards cards such as:
- CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard — $99 annual fee, waived the first 12 months; 2x miles on American Airlines purchases, purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and gas stations and 1x elsewhere
- JetBlue World Mastercard — $0 annual fee; 3x points on JetBlue purchases, 2x on restaurants and grocery stores
- Allegiant World Mastercard Credit Card — $59 annual fee; 3x points on Allegiant purchases, 2x on dining and 1x elsewhere
- Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard — $79 annual fee; 3x points on Amtrak purchases, 2x on other travel and 1x elsewhere
- Frontier Airlines World Mastercard — $79 annual fee; 5x miles on Frontier purchases, 3x at restaurants and 1x elsewhere
- Spirit Airlines World Mastercard — $59 annual fee, waived the first year; 2x miles on everyday purchases
The World Elite Mastercard Program
World Elite card holders enjoy all of the standard and World Mastercard benefits listed above, plus the following:
- Lyft —Take 5 rides in a month and get a $10 credit once a month.
- Boxed — Earn 5% in cash rewards on orders for future purchases.
- Lufthansa — Card holders receive a 15% discount on the German flag carrier.
- Avalon Waterways — Card holders can receive up to $75 per person on all cruises.
- Vacation Packages — Card holders can receive between $50 and $250 when booking tours and vacations around the world.
- Car Rentals — Get a 25% discount when renting with Avis or National or Sixt. Upon request, card holders can also receive elite status with these companies.
- Chauffeured Car Service — This program features savings on limousine services around the world at 20% off the standard price.
- Private Jet Program — When first class just doesn’t cut it, this program offers discounts from private jet charter operators Skyjet and Vitesse Worldwide.
- Personal Travel Advisor and Mastercard Global Service Premium — These appear to be the same as the benefits offered by World Mastercards, but purportedly come with more personal service.
- Mastercard Priceless Cities — Take advantage of travel experiences that give you preferred access to VIP events, insider opportunities, special promotions and more.
- Mastercard Priceless Golf — These are golf offers and experiences with the PGA Tour for World Elite cardholders, as well as a Golf Concierge Service to access other golf benefits available.
- Mastercard Hotel Stay Guarantee — If you book a 3-star or higher rated hotel, and you aren’t satisfied, Mastercard says that it will have a Lifestyle Manager work with you to make it right.
- Mastercard Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee — If you find the same exact prepaid hotel stay for less, Mastercard will refund the difference.
- Onefinestay — Save 10% on rental homes worldwide.
- Fandango — Every time you buy two movie tickets, receive $5 off future movie tickets or at-home purchases.
Popular travel rewards card that are part of the Mastercard World Elite program include:
- Citi Premier Card — $95 annual fee; earns 3x miles on travel (including gas stations), 2x on restaurants and entertainment
- Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard — $99 annual fee, waived the first 12 months; earns 2x miles on American Airlines purchases, at gas stations and at restaurants, offers a first bag checked free
- Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard — $450 annual fee; includes Admirals Club membership, earns 2x miles on American Airlines purchases
- Citi Prestige — $495 annual fee; earns 5x points on air travel and at restaurants and 3x points on hotels and cruise lines, up to $250 in travel credits each year, a 4th Night Free on hotel stays
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard — $89 annual fee, waived the first year; earns 2x miles on every purchase and a 5% rebate when you redeem your miles
- JetBlue Plus World Elite Mastercard — $99 annual fee; earns 6x points on JetBlue purchases, 2x on restaurants and grocery stores, free first checked bag on JetBlue, 5,000 bonus points each year on account anniversary
- Lufthansa Miles & More World Mastercard — $89 annual fee; earns double miles on all Miles & More partners and two free Lufthansa Business Lounge Vouchers annually
- Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard —$99 annual fee, waived the first year; earns 3X miles on all Hawaiian Airlines purchases and 2x miles on gas, dining and grocery store purchases
- Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard — $90 annual fee; earns 3x miles on Virgin Atlantic purchases
Are World Elite Benefits Worth the Annual Fee?
The easiest World Elite benefits to use (among those not included with World Mastercards) is probably the Lyft $10 credit, as all it really requires is setting a World Elite Mastercard as your method of payment (and being a regular user of Lyft). Personally, I’m a big fan of National’s Executive status, as I love choosing my own car from their Emerald Aisle, and families can often find a minivan there for the price of a midsize car. So for me, the National and Avis car rental benefit is a good one.
Where the World Elite benefits also shine is for those who travel on paid tickets. A nice World Elite perk (for some people) is the Lufthansa discount. Although no domestic carriers are represented, the opportunity to receive discounts on paid tickets can save you money. Likewise, those who find themselves paying for cruises, tours and limousines might find this program to be easier than trying to negotiate savings directly with travel providers. And if you rent private jets, there are some savings to be had there, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that this benefit is of the “if you have to ask, then you probably can’t afford it” variety.
If we’re only considering World Elite Mastercard benefits and not other card perks, the best option for getting World Elite benefits is probably the Citi Premier Card, which has a great earning structure that includes a lot of bonus point opportunities. Citi’s ThankYou points can be redeemed for airfare via the Citi ThankYou Travel Center at a rate of 1.25 cents per point, or transferred to one of the program’s airline partners for potentially even more value. The best part is that right now the Citi Premier is offering a 60,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
Otherwise, travelers who can realize just one of the other tour, cruise, or limo discounts available with World Elite Mastercard will find the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum, the JetBlue Plus Card or the Hawaiian Airlines card to be well worth the annual fee, and businesses looking for World benefits and American Airlines perks likely can’t go wrong with a CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card for all their needs.
Featured photo by filadendron/Getty Images
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