Mastercard® Black Card™ review: A luxury credit card worth the $495 annual fee?

Sunbathing young woman enjoys the benefits of her Mastercard Black Card Sunbathing young woman enjoys the benefits of her Mastercard Black Card Image:

In a Nutshell

Mastercard® Black Card™ is a luxury credit card that offers unique benefits for frequent flyers. But it also comes saddled with a high annual fee and no sign-up bonus.

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With its high annual fee and sleek stainless-steel design, the Mastercard® Black Card™ is clearly aimed at consumers looking for a luxury credit card.

Sure, it may not boast the same “wow” factor as its gold-plated sibling, the Mastercard® Gold Card™, but the Mastercard® Black Card™ still qualifies as a status symbol. And if that’s what you’re looking for, it may be the right choice for you.

Whether it’s a smart choice is a different matter — especially given all the other luxury travel rewards cards competing with it.

The most obvious competitor is the Platinum Card® from American Express, which comes with a higher annual fee ($550) but superior lounge access and other unique benefits, like up to $200 in annual Uber savings.

You may also be able to squeeze more value out of a travel rewards card like Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ (This offer is no longer available on our site), which offers similar or, in certain aspects such as the travel credit, better benefits for a $450 annual fee.

But if you’ve got your eye on the Mastercard® Black Card™, you could still end up with some great travel benefits. Let’s take a look.

Mastercard® Black Card™

From our partner

Mastercard® Black Card™

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees
What we like Heads up
  • Redemption rate of 2 percent for airfare and 1.5 percent for cash back
  • $100 annual airline credit toward qualified purchases
  • Luxury gifts program
  • Flashy stainless-steel card
  • Annual fee: $495; $195 for each additional user
  • To get the 2 percent redemption value for airfare, travel must be booked through the card’s affiliated agency

 


  1. The rundown: Everything we like about the Mastercard® Black Card™
  2. Heads up: What you should consider before applying
  3. Do the math: How to get the most out of the Mastercard® Black Card™
  4. The competition: How the Mastercard® Black Card™ stacks up against similar luxury cards
  5. Bottom line: Is the Mastercard® Black Card™ right for you?

The rundown: Everything we like about the Mastercard® Black Card™

This premium credit card is ideal for someone who travels a lot and enjoys the prestige of carrying a luxury credit card. In addition to a show-stopping stainless-steel card, you’ll get:

Rewards

The Mastercard® Black Card™ offers a points-based rewards program. You’ll earn one point for every dollar spent on purchases. You can redeem your points at a rate of 2 percent for airfare and 1.5 percent for cash back.

Given the different redemption rates, we recommend redeeming your points for airfare to get the maximum value. The difference can be significant: 50,000 points add up to $1,000 in airfare but only $750 in cash back.

Travel benefits

Mastercard® Black Card™ members receive an annual airline credit of up to $100 toward qualified purchases including lounge access and baggage fees.

Members also receive a $100 statement credit to cover the cost of the Global Entry application fee. Global Entry can be a great relief for frequent travelers, as it allows expedited arrival into the United States from international destinations. It also includes enrollment in TSA Pre✓® for speedier security screening at domestic airports.

Luxury perks

Mastercard® Black Card™ cardholders benefit from Luxury Card Concierge™, which operates much like a hotel concierge service. In fact, consultants are available to offer assistance whether you’re at home or traveling to any number of global destinations. Whether you’re trying to get tickets to a sold-out show or picking your next travel destination, they’ve got you covered.

Other luxury perks include access to VIP airport lounges with Priority Pass Select, room upgrades at participating hotels, a luxury gift program and access to a members-only luxury magazine.

Read our review of the Mastercard® Gold Card™

Heads up: What you should consider before applying

If you aren’t frightened by the annual fee, then you probably won’t be fazed by anything else this card throws at you. With that said, you’ll want to ask yourself whether the benefits you expect to receive are really worth that high annual fee.

This becomes an especially pertinent question if you decide to add an authorized user. That will set you back an additional $195 annually, bringing the total annual cost of holding this card up to $690. That’s still far below the annual fee you’ll pay for the Mastercard® Gold Card™ ($995; $295 for each additional user) , but it’s nothing to scoff at.

You’ll also want to note that, unlike the Platinum Card® from American Express, the Mastercard® Black Card™ is not a charge card. You can carry a balance with this card, but be careful not to rack up too much in interest charges. The variable APR for purchases is currently 15.99 percent.

Charge card vs. credit card: What's the difference?

Do the math: How to get the most out of the Mastercard® Black Card™

Travel. That’s how you can get the most out of Mastercard® Black Card™.

With double points when redeemed for airfare, it’s not too difficult to reach the value of a ticket that exceeds the annual fee for this card.

Spend $25,000 annually on your card, and you’re looking at a $500 value when you redeem your points for airfare. That alone surpasses the annual fee. Factor in all the other benefits you get with this card, and you should come out comfortably ahead.

Just be sure to actually use those benefits. The $100 Global Entry application fee and $100 annual airline credit are worth nothing if they’re not used.

The competition: How the Mastercard® Black Card™ stacks up against similar luxury cards

Mastercard® Black Card™ Platinum Card® from American Express Chase Sapphire Reserve℠
Annual fee $495; $195 for each additional user $550 $450
Sign-up bonus or welcome offer  None 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
 Rewards* 1 point for every dollar spent on purchases

5x Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel

5x Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked through amextravel.com

1x point for all other purchases

3x points on dining and travel purchases worldwide, including airfare, hotels, taxis and trains

1x point per dollar spent on all other purchases

 Travel benefits

$100 annual airline credit toward qualifying purchases

$100 credit for Global Entry application fee

No foreign transaction fees

Up to $200 a year in airline fee credits for baggage and other incidental travel fees at a qualifying airline of your choice

$100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee

Uber VIP status, up to $15 in monthly Uber credits for U.S. rides and a $20 Uber bonus in December for Basic Card members

No foreign transaction fees

Up to $300 in statement credits for travel purchases each year

$100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee

No foreign transaction fees

Other perks 

Luxury gifts and access to members-only magazine

Access to VIP airport lounges with Priority Pass Select

Access to the Global Lounge Collection and complimentary benefits with Fine Hotels & Resorts Access to VIP airport lounges with Priority Pass Select

* Redemption value for rewards points may vary


Bottom line: Is the Mastercard® Black Card™ right for you?

No doubt about it: The high annual fee makes the Mastercard® Black Card™ undesirable for many people. But for a person who travels a lot, the pros can easily outweigh the cons.

Whether you get this card or a different luxury travel card will depend on a number of questions you’ll have to ask yourself. How much does the lack of a sign-up bonus hurt this card’s appeal? Can you spend enough (within your budget, of course) to make the annual fee worth it? Do you want to impress your friends or business associates with a sleek, exclusive-looking card?

If so, then the Mastercard® Black Card™ might just be the luxury card for you.


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