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.
We’re all aware of the useful benefits that come with our credit cards, from annual travel credits to free checked bags. But what about the less obvious ones? If you own a credit card through Mastercard, it will be one of the following: a Mastercard, World Mastercard or World Elite Mastercard.
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You can find out which version you have by looking for the label just above the Mastercard logo. World Elite Mastercards tend to carry higher annual fees. So, is it worth it to spend more? What benefits are you getting out of owning a World or World Elite Mastercard?
If you’re equally as confused, don’t worry. We’ll go over the main differences between the three Mastercards and the various perks that come with each type of version.
The standard Mastercard program
The standard benefits of a Mastercard vary based on the card issuer and the product. However, benefits you’ll get directly from the Standard Mastercard program include:
- Zero liability protection: You won’t be financially responsible for unauthorized charges to your card.
- Mastercard Global Emergency Services: Get emergency assistance anytime, anywhere, helping you with card replacement, cash advances if your wallet or card is lost or stolen or other inquiries.
- Mastercard ID Theft Protection™: Powered by Generali Global Assistance, this perk adds an extra level of security with exclusive technology to monitor fraud or suspicious activity on your account and assigns a resolution specialist in cases of identity theft. To activate this benefit, visit the Mastercard ID Theft Protection website to enroll your card.
The World Mastercard program
The next level (World Mastercard) is where you’ll really start to reap the benefits. In addition to all the Standard Mastercard perks, you’ll enjoy the following:
- DoorDash: Get a three-month membership to DoorDash DashPass, offering members unlimited free delivery fees and reduced service fees from thousands of restaurants, grocery and convenience stores on orders over $12. Plus, get a $5 discount on their first two orders every month through Sept. 30, 2022.
- HelloFresh: Get a 5% discount on each HelloFresh purchase. New HelloFresh customers will also receive up to a $90 discount on their first four orders.
- Lyft: After taking three Lyft rides in a calendar month, receive an automatic $5 credit once per month.
- ShopRunner: Receive a complimentary ShopRunner membership, getting you unlimited free two-day shipping and return shipping on 100+ retailers, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Staples.
- Cell phone protection: By paying your cell phone bill with your World Mastercard, you’ll receive up to $1,000 in yearly coverage (maximum two claims per year, for up to $600 per claim) if you damage your phone or if it gets stolen.
- Priceless Experiences: Access exclusive events in your local city or destinations you’re visiting. For golfers, you’ll also enjoy Priceless benefits for golf experiences.
- Mastercard Travel & Lifestyle Services: Offers trip planning assistance for cardholders, amenities, free nights, upgrades and premium travel offers from best-in-class travel companies across Mastercard hotels, air travel, tours, cruises, car rentals and more. When booking through this program, you’ll also receive:
- Hotel stay guarantee: If you’re not pleased with a three-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.
- Mastercard Airport Concierge: Enjoy a 15% discount on personalized meet-and-greet services from over 700 airports worldwide.
Best World Mastercard credit cards
An array of our favorite travel rewards credit cards bear the World Mastercard logo, including:
This card is great for frequent travelers who prefer American Airlines and also want to earn generous rewards on common purchases. The card offers 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, purchases at telecommunications, cable and satellite providers, car rentals and gas stations and 1x everywhere else. The $99 annual fee is waived the first year, making the card an excellent value.
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, 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.
The information for the JetBlue 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.
Other World Mastercards that may be worth the cost
- Amtrak Guest Rewards® World Mastercard® — $79 annual fee; 3x points on eligible Amtrak purchases, 2x on other travel and 1x elsewhere
- Frontier Airlines World Mastercard® — $79 annual fee, waived the first year; 5x miles on eligible Frontier purchases, 3x at restaurants and 1x elsewhere
The information for the Amtrak Guest Rewards and the Frontier Airlines World Mastecard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
The World Elite Mastercard program
World Elite cardholders enjoy all the standard and World Mastercard benefits (including DoorDash and Lyft benefits) listed above, plus the following:
- Fandango: For every $20 spent on Fandango movie tickets or Fandango’s streaming services, receive a $5 Fandango reward for future movie tickets or at-home purchases.
- World Elite Concierge: This 24/7 concierge service acts as a personal assistant, helping you plan dinner reservations or book tickets to events.
- Cell phone protection: By paying your cell phone bill with your World Elite Mastercard, you’ll get a higher amount of coverage than the World Mastercard cell phone coverage. 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).
Best World Elite Mastercard credit cards
Many of the best travel rewards credit cards are part of the World Elite Mastercard program. Here are some of our favorites:
The Citi Premier’s modest $95 annual fee is more than offset for the first year by a sign-up bonus of 80,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. The card offers 3x points on restaurants, groceries, gas stations, air travel, hotels and 1x on all other purchases. Points never expire and can be transferred to any of Citi’s 16 airline partners. The card also has no foreign transaction fees.
Related: Reasons to get the Citi Premier card
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 you 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 status after spending $50,000 with your card in a calendar year.
The information for the JetBlue Plus has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Other World Elite Mastercard credit cards to consider
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® — $99 annual fee (waived for the first 12 months); earns 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, at gas stations and restaurants and first checked bag free
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® — $450 annual fee; includes Admirals Club membership, earns 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and first checked bag free
- Citi Prestige® Card — $495 annual fee; earns 5x points on air travel and at restaurants and 3x points on hotels and cruise lines, $250 annual travel credit and two fourth-night-free awards on hotel stays each year
The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card and the 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 and DoorDash credits. All it requires is setting a World Elite Mastercard as your method of payment. Meanwhile, the savings with Fandango tickets can add up if you’re a frequent moviegoer. The ShopRunner membership can also make the World Elite and World Mastercards worthwhile, with lots of savings available for shopping online.
Many of the benefits related to the World and World Elite Mastercard 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 Mastercard Travel & Lifestyle Services. But these aren’t necessarily perks that will automatically translate into cost savings that offset the annual fee.
If we’re only considering World Elite Mastercard benefits and not the 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 points opportunities. Citi’s ThankYou points can be transferred to 16 airline programs for potentially even more value. The best part is that right now, the Citi Premier is offering a 80,000-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.
Additional reporting by Dawn Allcot and Stella Shon.
Featured photo by filadendron for Getty Images.
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