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|Redemption rate of 2% for airfare and 1.5% for cash back||Steep annual fee|
|$100 annual airline credit toward qualified purchases||High fee for adding an authorized user|
|Luxury gifts program||To get the 2% redemption value for airfare, travel must be booked through the card’s affiliated agency|
|Flashy stainless-steel card|
What you need to know about the Mastercard® Black 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. 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.
The Mastercard® Black Card™ offers a points-based rewards program. You’ll earn one point for every $1 spent on purchases. You can redeem your points at a rate of 2% for airfare (through myluxurycard.com or calling customer service) and at 1.5% 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.
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 PreCheck for speedier security screening at domestic airports.
Mastercard® Black Card™ cardholders benefit from Luxury Card Concierge, which operates much like a hotel concierge service. In fact, consultants are available to help 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.
What else you should know about the Mastercard® Black Card™
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. Here are a few things to consider.
- High cost for adding an authorized user: If you decide to add an authorized user, it will set you back $195 annually for each user you add, in addition to the $495 annual fee. If you add just one user, 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.
- This isn’t a charge card: You’ll also want to note that 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.
- No sign-up bonus: Another key feature missing from this card is a sign-up bonus of any kind. Many travel credit cards offer significant sign-up bonuses, so that definitely feels like a missed opportunity here.
Understanding your points and redemption
How can you get the most out of the Mastercard® Black Card™? Travel. That’s how.
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.
Who this card is good for
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.
Not sure this is the black card for you? Consider these alternatives.
- Platinum Card® from American Express: This card is good for frequent travelers who fly and take Uber rides. Read our review of the Platinum Card® from American Express.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®: This card is good for people who eat out a lot and want to maximize their travel rewards. Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
- Mastercard® Gold Card™: This card is good for people who really want to impress the crowd — expenses be damned. Read our review of the Mastercard® Gold Card™.