World Elite vs. World Mastercard: Benefits and value
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest card issuer information.
You may be in the market for a new Mastercard to cover emergency expenses during the coronavirus pandemic or to prep for summer vacation by earning rewards on a new card. So you might be wondering about the difference between the World Elite and World versions of some of the top Mastercard credit cards.
If you’re already carrying one of these cards, you can find out which version you have by looking for the label “World” or “World Elite” just above the Mastercard logo. Some of these cards carry higher annual fees than Mastercards that are not part of the program. Is it worth it to spend more? What benefits are you getting out of a World or World Elite Mastercard?
Related reading: Comparing Visa Signature and World Elite Mastercard benefits
Let’s take a look at the differences in the costs and benefits, and see what perks might make one of them worthwhile for a savvy spender.
The standard Mastercard program
The standard benefits of a Mastercard vary based on the card issuer and the product. However, benefits can include:
- Zero liability — Waives the $50 maximum liability to cardholders under the Fair Credit Billing Act for fraudulent charges
- Mastercard Global Emergency Services — Provides emergency assistance including card replacement and cash advances if your wallet or card is lost or stolen
- Mastercard ID Theft Protection™— Includes an ID-theft resolution kit and access to specialists
- Mastercard Priceless Cities Offers & Experiences — Take advantage of travel experiences that give you preferred access to VIP events, insider opportunities, special promotions and more.
- Mastercard 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 Airport Concierge — A paid meet-and-greet service that helps passengers with arrivals, departures, or changing planes at more than 450 airports around the world. Cardholders receive a 15% discount for the service.
The World Mastercard program
Credit cards in the World Mastercard program may come with these additional benefits:
- Cell Phone Protection – If you damage your phone or it’s stolen, you may get reimbursed for up to $600 per claim (maximum two claims per year and $1,000 in yearly coverage).
- DoorDash: Cardholders who are new to DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription program offering members unlimited free delivery fees and reduced service fees from thousands of restaurants, grocery and convenience stores on orders over $12, get a free 3-month membership. All new and existing DashPass members will automatically get a $5 discount on their first two orders every month. Simply pay with your consumer World or World Elite credit card to benefit through September 30, 2022.
- HelloFresh:Earn 5% back on each HelloFresh purchase that you can later use towards future orders. New HelloFresh customers will also receive a discount off their first few orders.
- Lyft:Automatically receive a $5 credit for every three Lyft rides taken in a calendar month. The credit will be automatically applied to the next ride, capped at once per month.
- Mastercard Travel & Lifestyle Services — Makes travel arrangements for cardholders. Provides a suite of benefits, amenities and upgrades, preferential treatment and premium travel offers from best-in-class travel companies across hotels, air travel, tours, cruises, car rentals and more.When booking hotels through Mastercard travel and Lifestyle Services, you also receive:
- Hotel stay guarantee: If you’re not pleased with a 3-star or higher-rated hotel stay, Mastercard will work to make it right.
- Lowest hotel rate guarantee: If you find a lower price on a prepaid hotel stay, Mastercard may reimburse you the difference.
- ShopRunner — When you order from more than 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.
Best World Mastercard credit cards
An array of top travel rewards credit cards bear the World Mastercard logo. Here are some of our favorites.
This card is great for frequent travelers who prefer American Airlines and also want to earn generous rewards on common purchases. The card delivers 2x miles eligible American Airlines purchases, purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and gas stations and 1x everywhere else. The $99 annual fee is waived the first year, making the card an excellent value. Plus, for a limited time new cardholders get 65,000 American AAdvantage miles after spending $4,000 in the first four months of account opening.
Related reading: Five things you need to know about American Airlines AAdvantage
Apply for CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® now and earn 65,000 miles after spending $4,000 in the first four months
The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
This is a rare World Mastercard with no annual fee, making it an incredible value. It gives you 3x points on JetBlue purchases, plus 2x points on restaurants and grocery stores and 1x on everything else. Issued by Barclays Bank, the card has a 10,000-point bonus offer after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. You’ll also get perks such as 50% off inflight purchases and no foreign transaction fees.
These benefits may sound modest, but pair them with the benefits you’ll get in the World Mastercard program, and you have a solid card that doesn’t cost anything to carry.
Related reading: JetBlue TrueBlue rewards program
Other World Mastercards that may be worth the money
- 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 cardholders enjoy all the standard and World Mastercard benefits listed above, plus the following:
- Cell Phone Protection – If you damage your phone or it’s stolen, you may get reimbursed for up to $800 per claim (maximum two claims per year and $1,000 in yearly coverage).
- Concierge Services — Phone representatives to assist you with gift buying and delivery, event tickets and other personal services
- Fandango — For every $20 spent on Fandango or Fandango’s home entertainment, receive $5 Fandango reward off future movie tickets or at-home purchases.
- Mastercard Travel & Lifestyle Services — Makes travel arrangements for cardholders. Provides a suite of benefits, amenities and upgrades, preferential treatment and premium travel offers from best-in-class travel companies across hotels, air travel, tours, cruises, car rentals and more. When booking hotels through Mastercard travel and Lifestyle Services, you also receive:
- Private 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.
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Best World Elite Mastercard credit cards
Many of the best travel rewards credit cards are part of the Mastercard World Elite program. These are some of our favorites.
The card’s modest $95 annual fee is more than offset for the first year by a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months. The card offers 3x points per dollar on travel, including gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets, hotels and air travel.1x points on all other purchases. Points never expire and can be transferred to any of Citi’s many travel partners. The card has no foreign transaction fees.
For frequent JetBlue flyers, this card offers a lot of bang for the buck. The $99 annual fee gets you a free checked bag when you fly JetBlue (for yourself and three companions) and 5,000 bonus points each year on your account anniversary. Earn 6x points on JetBlue purchases, plus 2x at restaurants and grocery stores. You can also earn a $100 statement credit on JetBlue Vacations purchases of $100 or more. Plus, using your JetBlue Plus Card is a great way to earn Mosaic status, JetBlue’s elite status, since you automatically gain the credential when you spend $50,000 with your card in a calendar year.
Other World Elite Mastercard credit cards to consider
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® — $99 annual fee; earns 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, at gas stations and at restaurants, offers a first bag checked free
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® — $450 annual fee; includes Admirals Club membership, earns 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
- Citi Prestige® Card — $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
The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card, Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
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. All it requires is setting a World Elite Mastercard as your method of payment (and being a regular user of Lyft). The car rental discounts and elite status upgrades are also great benefits that you don’t find with most credit cards. The savings with Fandango tickets can add up if you’re a frequent moviegoer.
Right now, as we practice social distancing and self-isolation, the Boxed, Postmates, and Shoprunner discounts and perks make the World Elite Mastercard worthwhile, with lots of savings available for shopping online.
Related reading: Best credit cards for online shopping
Many of the benefits related to the World Elite program offer peace of mind. For instance, it’s nice to know that if you have a less-than-stellar hotel stay at a three-star or better property, Mastercard has your back. And it’s nice to have more personalized service through the Personal Travel Advisor and Mastercard Global Service. But these aren’t perks that will automatically translate into cost savings that offset the annual fee.
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 or the JetBlue Plus Card to be well worth the annual fee. Businesses looking for World benefits and American Airlines perks likely can’t go wrong with a CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card for all their needs.
With additional reporting by Dawn Allcot
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