The 5 best Mastercard credit cards

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Louis DeNicola is a personal finance writer and has written for American Express and Discover. Editorial Note: Intuit Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our third-party advertisers don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. Information about financial products not offered on Credit Karma is collected independently. Our content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.

This offer is no longer available on our site: Chase Freedom Flex℠

You’ll still need to zero in on the specific card you want, and that decision will depend on your individual goals as well as your credit profile.

With that in mind, here are our five favorite Mastercard credit cards. Take a look and see if one of them could meet your needs.


CardBest for
Chase Freedom Flex℠Bonus cash back
Citi Double Cash® CardSimple cash back
Citi Simplicity® CardBalance transfers
Citi Strata Premier℠ CardTravel rewards
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit CardBuilding credit

Best for bonus cash back: Chase Freedom Flex℠

Here’s why: The Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers numerous opportunities to earn bonus cash back, with a $0 annual fee that won’t cut into your rewards.

You’ll start with a $200 bonus after spending $500 on purchases during the first 3 months from account opening.

The card also features 5% cash back on certain categories. You’ll earn …

  • 5% back on Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel bookings
  • 5% back on up to the first $1,500 you spend in combined purchases (then 1%) in bonus categories each quarter in rotating categories you must activate

Plus, you’ll get 3% cash back at restaurants and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases.

Read more about these cash back offers in reviews of the Chase Freedom Flex℠.

Best for simple cash back: Citi Double Cash® Card

From our partner

Citi Double Cash® Card

2.9 out of 5

From cardholders in the last year

See details, rates & fees

Here’s why: You can earn cash back on every purchase without having to worry about different spending categories.

With the Citi Double Cash® Card, you’ll earn 2% cash back (1% when you make a purchase and an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases).

While some credit card enthusiasts may enjoy figuring out which card is best to use depending on the type of purchase, we like that this card doesn’t require a lot of work to use effectively.

And there’s a $0 annual fee, making it even better.

Learn more with reviews of the Citi Double Cash® Card.

Best for balance transfers: Citi Simplicity® Card

From our partner

Citi Simplicity® Card

2.2 out of 5

From cardholders in the last year

See details, rates & fees

Here’s why: The Citi Simplicity® Card has one of the longest introductory APR offers for balance transfers around.

It comes with an intro 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months from the date of the first transfer, so you’ll have a long time to work on paying down your debt. Keep in mind that all transfers must be completed within the first four months the account is open to qualify, and there’s a balance transfer fee: Intro fee 3% of each transfer ($5 minimum) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, 5% of each transfer ($5 minimum). After the intro period, the variable APR for balance transfers will be 19.24% - 29.99%.

The card also comes with an intro 0% APR for purchases for 12 months from account opening (the variable purchase APR will be 19.24% - 29.99% after that).

Plus, there’s no annual fee.

Learn more about the Citi Simplicity® Card with reviews.

Best for travel rewards: Citi Strata Premier℠ Card

From our partner

Citi Strata Premier℠ Card

2.2 out of 5

From cardholders in the last year

See details, rates & fees

Here’s why: The Citi Strata Premier℠ Card offers an unlimited three points per $1 spent on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations and air travel and hotels and one point per $1 spent on all other purchases. You can also earn 10 points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal.

It also comes with a sign-up bonus of 70,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Among other options, you can redeem your points for gift cards at thankyou.com.

Check out reviews of the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card to find out if it’s worth the $95 annual fee.

Best for building credit: Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

From our partner

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

4.1 out of 5

From cardholders in the last year

See details, rates & fees

Here’s why: Secured credit cards can help those who don’t otherwise qualify for a credit card build their credit history. The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card reports payments to the three major consumer credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

To open an account, Capital One requires a security deposit of either $49, $99 or $200. It determines what the deposit amount will be and offers a minimum initial credit limit of $200.

You can choose to pay a higher security deposit to raise the credit limit — for a limit of up to $1,000. Capital One may also raise your credit limit after six months.

Learn more about the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card.


How to make the most of a Mastercard credit card

Mastercard doesn’t actually issue credit cards — it’s what’s known as a credit card network. It operates a payment network that connects your card and the card’s issuer with a merchant.

In other words, when you make a purchase, the Mastercard network helps the money flow behind the scenes.

Your card’s network can be important — maybe you’ve tried to make a purchase with a credit card that a merchant didn’t accept. But Mastercard is widely accepted, which may be one reason to consider a card bearing the logo.

Mastercard also offers exclusive benefits that offer cardholders access to events and experiences, as well as other perks. To make full use of your Mastercard credit card, you should understand both the rewards offered by your issuer as well as the benefits that come from Mastercard itself.

There are many different Mastercard credit cards to choose from, and it can be difficult to narrow your pick.

Whether you’re just getting started with a secured credit card or consolidating your debt on a balance transfer card, consider the pros and cons of each Mastercard credit card before applying.


About the author: Louis DeNicola is a personal finance writer and has written for American Express, Discover and Nova Credit. In addition to being a contributing writer at Credit Karma, you can find his work on Business Insider, Cheapi… Read more.