Mastercard® Black Card Review

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Mastercard® Black Card™

Mastercard® Black Card™

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Rewards rate:

2% Value for Airfare Redemptions. 1.5% Value for Cash Back Redemptions. Earn one point for every one dollar spent.

  • Intro bonus: No current offer
  • Annual fee: $495 ($195 for each Authorized User added to the account)
  • Regular APR: 14.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score: 740-850 (Excellent)

The Mastercard Black Card offers a balance of annual credits and travel benefits, but its rewards are modest compared to similar cards — especially considering the $495 price tag. 

At a Glance

  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent 
  • Points are worth 2% back when redeeming for airfare, 1.5% redeeming for cash back, and 1% for everything else
  • Up to $100 annual airline credit
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee credit
  • Airport lounge access via complimentary Priority Pass Select membership
  • $495 annual fee ($195 for each Authorized User added to the account)
  • Introductory 0% interest offer on balance transfers for 15 billing cycles; ongoing 14.99% variable APR

Pros

  • 2% points value for airfare redemptions and 1.5% value for cash back redemptions

  • Up to $100 annual airline credit

  • 0% interest on balance transfers for 15 billing cycles

  • Metal card

Cons

  • $495 annual fee

  • No bonus categories for rewards earn

  • No welcome bonus offer

  • Fewer benefits than similarly priced travel cards

Additional Card Details

Despite limited rewards value for everyday use by most people, the Mastercard Black Card offers value for frequent travelers in its convenience. For the $495 annual fee, you’ll get access to hotels around the world and agents to help you book your trips. 

The Black Card is issued by Barclays, but part of the Luxury Card portfolio. Black Card members can use Luxury Card’s in-house travel redemption program called Luxury Card Travel to book hotel stays with more than 3,000 worldwide properties, and access the Luxury Card Concierge for 24/7 service, among other benefits. Stays of three or more consecutive nights booked with Luxury Card Travel unlock additional services, including resort or spa credits, free food and beverage vouchers, and complimentary upgrades. Concierge services can help you book travel, access and coordinate experiences, and provide recommendations.

Travel protections and more benefits from the World Elite Mastercard program include: 

  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Auto rental collision waiver (secondary coverage)
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Travel assistance
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $10 monthly Lyft credit after taking 5 rides in a month
  • 5% cash rewards on Boxed purchases toward future Boxed orders
  • Cell phone protection 
  • Global emergency assistance

Should You Get this Card?

With a sleek, black stainless steel design and laser engravings, Mastercard Black Card has the looks, but falls short in function.

The Mastercard Black Card’s annual fee is $55 less than popular travel card options like Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card® from American Express, and it offers a lower ongoing APR. But frequent travelers looking to upgrade their travel with a card at this price point are better off paying the slightly higher fee, in exchange for better benefits and more valuable rewards programs.

There’s no sign-up bonus or bonus categories with the Black Card; every purchase earns a flat one point per $1 spent. The card does have a good redemption value for airfare: each point is worth 2 cents when redeemed for flights through myluxurycard.com. But other redemption options fall short: you’ll earn 1.5 cents per point for cash back or statement credits, and just 1 cent per point toward other redemptions, including non-airfare travel like hotels or car rentals.

Additionally, the rewards program can be restrictive compared to other issuers. All bookings are final — meaning trip cancellations will result in a forfeiture of points. If you are forced to change or cancel your trip booked on points, you will pay $35 plus any supplier fees, and potentially forfeit the points you used for the original booking. 

They might take a bit more work to maximize, but credit card rewards programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards offer much more value with better flexibility, especially if you belong to partner frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. And cards within those programs (like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Platinum Card from American Express) offer as many, if not more, benefits as the Black Card, including airline and other travel credits, airport lounge access, concierge service, and travel protections.

Finally, while the card’s 15-billing cycle 0% interest intro offer on balance transfers might sound appealing, there are much better options for paying debt via balance transfer with longer intro periods and no annual fee. And you should avoid taking on any new rewards credit card — especially one with a $495 fee — until any existing credit card debts are paid and you’ve established healthy credit habits.

How to Use the Mastercard Black Card

Because points are earned at the same rate (1 point per dollar spent), maximizing this card comes down to redemption options. To get the most value, you’ll want to redeem your points at a 2% rate for airfare through myluxurycard.com. That means, for every $5,000 you spend, you can get $100 toward airfare. 

The other most valuable redemption option is cash back or statement credits, at a 1.5% rate. The same $5,000 in spending is worth $75 redeemed this way. But if cash back is your preferred redemption option, you’d be much better off with a no annual fee cash back credit card. Multiple cash back cards, including the Citi® Double Cash Card* and Citizens Bank Cash Plus World Mastercard* offer better flat cash back back value on every purchase — for no cost.

The best use of the Mastercard Black Card’s value isn’t its points rewards and redemptions, but in the convenience of accessing luxury benefits.

Make sure you use the annual airline credit, TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit, and Priority Pass Select membership. You can also unlock additional value from Luxury Card Travel in the form of upgrades and vouchers. Luxury Card claims the average value on a three-night stay is $500, though your actual value may vary based on where you stay and available promotions. Further maximize the card’s value by taking advantage of Luxury Card’s Concierge service for everything from travel recommendations to booking top-tier dining and entertainment experiences on your trip.

Mastercard Black Card Compared to Other Cards

Mastercard® Black Card™

Mastercard® Black Card™

  • Intro bonus:
    No current offer
  • Annual fee:
    $495 ($195 for each Authorized User added to the account)
  • Regular APR:
    14.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    740-850 (Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site
Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Intro bonus:
    50,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $550
  • Regular APR:
    16.99%-23.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    740-850 (Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site
The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Intro bonus:
    75,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $550
  • Regular APR:
    See Pay Over Time APR
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site

Bottom Line

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

The Mastercard Black Card can give travelers the convenience of luxury hotel access and concierge services, without requiring them to deal with more complex points programs. But if you’re going to spend nearly $500 each year on a travel credit card, look into other premium rewards card options that will better maximize your spending, upgrade your benefits, and offer more flexible redemptions for your money. 

*All information about the Citi Double Cash Card and Citizens Bank Cash Plus World Mastercard has been collected independently by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Mastercard Black Card exclusive by invitation?

No — anyone can apply for a Mastercard Black Card without an invitation.

How do you qualify for the Mastercard Black Card?

You will need to have excellent credit (at least a 740 credit score) to qualify for the Mastercard Black Card.

Is the Mastercard Black Card worth it?

The Mastercard Black Card is good for its access to some travel benefits and 2% redemption rate toward flights, but its rewards value ultimately falls flat compared to similarly-priced premium travel cards available from other issuers.