Mastercard® Black Card™ review: Is it worth the annual fee?
Mastercard® Black Card™
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- Enjoy access to luxury benefits with your brushed stainless steel card, such as an annual $100 airfare credit to offset incidental charges.
- Redeem your points for airfare at a 2% value – that means that 50,000 points are worth a $1,000 flight.
- Take advantage of 15 billing cycles of no interest on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening (then 14.99% Variable APR).
- While this card comes with plenty of luxury perks, you'll pay for them. The annual fee isn't for everyone and you'll pay for each authorized user, too. If you won't put the perks and features to good use, consider a lower annual fee or even no-annual-fee option.
The Mastercard® Black Card™ is one of three options in the Luxury Card offerings from Mastercard, along with the Mastercard® Gold Card™ and the Mastercard® Titanium Card™. Of the three, the Mastercard® Black Card™ is in the middle in terms of annual fee and benefits.
The Mastercard® Black Card™ is a high-end card and is a great addition to your wallet if you live a high-end lifestyle and travel frequently, allowing you to take full advantage of the benefits available.
It carries a $495 annual fee and a $195 fee for additional cards. However, those fees are more than covered by the slew of attractive perks offered. These include a $100 annual travel credit that can be used for airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades, etc. There is also a $100 statement credit that covers the application fee for Global Entry (a program that allows expedited arrival into the USA from international locations) and TSA Pre✓®.
Mastercard® Black Card™ cardholders are enrolled in the Luxury Card VIP Travel program, providing perks such as room upgrades and complimentary food, beverage, and spa credits at more than 3,000 properties across the globe. Also included in the VIP Travel program are car rental privileges, cruise privileges, charter services, chauffeured transportation, and airport meet and assist. The VIP program also gets you into more than 1,300 lounges at airports in more than 500 cities.
The rewards program for the Mastercard® Black Card™ is fairly straightforward. Cardholders earn one point for each dollar spent. Unfortunately though, there is no sign-up bonus to get the ball rolling. However, when it comes time to redeem your points, you have a couple of options. Redemption for airline travel is worth 2%, while redemption for cash back is worth 1.5%.
Cardholders also have access to a 24/7 concierge service that tailors options to your personal tastes. It can help you put together a luxury travel itinerary, help you find unique and impossible-to-find gifts, and more.
The Mastercard® Black Card™ has a variable interest rate of 14.99% Variable. There is intro 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 months (and then 14.99% Variable), but there is a fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
For frequent travelers, carrying the Mastercard® Black Card™ offers the type of perks and benefits that will make sure you are treated like a VIP: shorter wait times when dealing with TSA and customs, access to special VIP lounges, upgrades on airlines and at hotels, etc. It's also great for those who frequently travel abroad as there are no foreign transaction fees associated with this card.
What truly grabs our attention though is the 24/7 concierge service that is worthy of the name. Are you finding it impossible to get a Christmas gift for your child? Do you need tickets to that "must-see" show for important clients? How about help putting together an over-the-top luxury itinerary for a special anniversary trip? Solutions are just a phone call away.
A rewards program that is straightforward and offers options for redemption is always a welcomed feature for cardholders as well. The 1:1 points to dollars spent ratio isn't spectacular but there are no limitations on qualifying purchases. If you use your card, the points will add up. When you choose to redeem your points, you have the option of redeeming for air travel vouchers, worth 2%, or cash back as a statement credit, worth 1.5%. That means 75,000 miles are good for $1,500 in travel, or $1,125 as a statement credit.
- Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
- $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95.
- 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
- 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
- 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
- 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
- Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
- Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
- Terms Apply.
Anyone can apply for the Mastercard® Black Card™, but not just anyone can be approved. Though the exact score needed for approval is not explicitly stated, applicants need excellent credit to open an account.
The credit bureau Experian considers a score between 740-799 to be "very good," and anything above 800 as "excellent." Please note though that these numbers can vary between different bureaus.
Even if your credit score is good enough to be approved for the Luxury Card Mastercard Black Card, a bigger consideration may be whether you can comfortably pay its $495 annual fee. Adding an authorized user is another $195. Before applying for the card, be sure the cost makes sense for your budget and that the rewards you earn will justify the expense.
As we briefly mentioned above, the $495 annual fee and $195 fee for additional cards are substantial. If you aren't sure you'll be doing a great deal of traveling and won't be able to take full advantage of the benefits offered with the Mastercard® Black Card™, it might not be worth the expense.
While the rewards program is very good, though not eye-popping, the lack of any type of sign-up bonus as an incentive to make that initial investment is also unfortunate. As a consumer, it's always nice to be offered some type of enticement to make you feel wanted.
Mastercard® Black Card™ vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve®
While the annual fees are similar ($495 versus $550 for Reserve®), there are notable differences between these cards.
The Mastercard® Black Card™ helps to offset the annual fee with a $100 annual travel credit, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a $300 annual travel credit.
Both cards offer access to special VIP lounges at airports across the globe.
In terms of rewards programs, the Mastercard® Black Card™ has no introductory bonus offer and awards one point for each dollar spent on all purchases. Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers three points for each dollar spent on travel (after earning your annual travel reimbursement) and restaurant purchases and one point on everything else. It also offers an introductory bonus of 60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months you have the card. Because you get 50% more value when you redeem points for travel through through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, this bonus is worth $900.
When it comes time to redeem your points, Mastercard® Black Card™ redeems points at 2% for airline travel and 1.5% for cash back. Chase Sapphire Reserve® redeems points at 1.5% for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal and 1% for gift cards or a statement credit.
The Mastercard® Black Card™ has an interest rate of 14.99% Variable, compared to 16.99%-23.99% Variable (depending on credit worthiness) for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
Mastercard® Black Card™ vs. Mastercard® Gold Card™
The Mastercard® Gold Card™ is the ultra premium offering in the Luxury Card line from Mastercard. The first key difference between the Gold card and Black card is the annual fee. The Mastercard Gold card has an eye-watering $995 annual fee, which is more than double the Black card's fee. This increased fee includes a $200 annual travel credit that can be used for things like airfare, baggage fees, upgrades, and more. The Black card’s $100 annual travel credit is half that offered by the Gold card. The redemption rate for the Gold card is also noteworthy as points can be redeemed for 2% value for airfare redemptions as well as cash back redemptions. The Black card offers the same 2% value for airfare redemptions but only 1.5% value for cash back redemptions, giving the Gold card the edge when points are redeemed for cash back.
One drawback of both cards is that neither of them include a new cardmember welcome bonus, which can make the sizable annual fees more difficult to justify.
Mastercard® Black Card™ vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express
With many similar luxury travel benefits, The Platinum Card® from American Express is a great alternative to the Mastercard® Black Card™. Both cards have an included annual airline fee credit, with the Black Card™ including a $100 annual travel credit that can cover airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades, etc. The Amex Platinum Card® has a $200 annual fee credit, double the Mastercard® Black Card™, that can cover incidental airline charges, like baggage fees and in-flight refreshments, with a qualifying pre-selected airline. Both cards include complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership giving you access to over 1,300 lounges at airports in more than 500 cities. The Platinum card Card® takes lounge access to the next level with the Global Lounge Collection, as well as exclusive American Express Centurion® Lounges, offering travelers more lounge options than any other card on the market. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.
Some key differentiators between the two cards are the new cardmember welcome bonus and the annual fee. With the Platinum card new cardholders can earn 75,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points after making $5,000 in purchases in the first six months of card membership. The Black card does not have a new cardmember welcome bonus. The annual fee for the Platinum card is higher at $550 versus the $495 annual fee for the Mastercard® Black Card™.
The Mastercard® Black Card™ can be a nice addition to the wallet but only for a specific type of consumer. To be approved for the card you will need excellent credit, and to take advantage of the full benefits of the card, you should be a frequent traveler who spends a significant amount of money each year on luxury items.
If you are a frugal spender with a modest income, you will miss out on many of the benefits of this card and will likely find the $495 annual fee to be prohibitive.
See Rates and Fees for the The Platinum Card® from American Express.