Mastercard® Gold Card™: Stylish, but lacking in substance

Young woman shopping with the Mastercard Gold Card Young woman shopping with the Mastercard Gold Card Image:

In a Nutshell

The Mastercard® Gold Card™ is a true luxury card that carries an ultra-high annual fee. We think there are better options out there — unless you really like the gold plating.

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Is the Mastercard® Gold Card™ a smart choice? Probably not, unless you’re willing to pay $995 annually to flash a 24-karat gold-plated credit card around town.

But if you’re looking for a truly luxurious status-symbol card and are willing to shell out almost a grand for it each year, you might indeed be tempted by the Mastercard® Gold Card™.

From our partner

Mastercard® Gold Card™

From cardholders in the last year

Either way, it’s still important to read the small print, consider the caveats and do the math on the costs vs. benefits before you apply.

What we like Heads up
  • Redemption rates of 2 percent for airfare and cash back
  • $200 annual airline credit toward qualified purchases
  • Luxury gifts program
  • Flashy 24-karat gold-plated card
  • Annual fee of $995; $295 for each additional user annually
  • To get the 2 percent redemption value for airfare, travel must be booked through myluxurycard.com or by calling the card’s customer service
  1. The rundown: Everything we like about the Mastercard® Gold Card™
  2. Heads up: What you should consider before applying
  3. Do the math: How to get the most out of the Mastercard® Gold Card™
  4. The competition: How the Mastercard® Gold Card™ stacks up against similar cards
  5. Bottom line: Is the Mastercard® Gold Card™ right for you?

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

At a glance, there’s a lot to like about the benefits package that comes with the Mastercard® Gold Card™. In addition to a flashy gold-plated credit card, you’ll get:

Rewards

The Mastercard® Gold 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 cash back.

Travel benefits

Mastercard® Gold Card™ members receive a $200 annual airline credit toward qualified purchases including upgrades and baggage fees

There’s also a $100 statement credit to offset the application fee for the Global Entry program. Global Entry allows expedited arrival into the United States from international destinations, and members can also participate in TSA Pre✓® for faster domestic security screening.

Luxury perks

The Mastercard® Gold Card™ comes with a 24/7 concierge service, plus a and access to a members-only luxury magazine.

What are credit card points and miles (really) worth?

Heads up: What you should consider before applying

Despite the attractive luxury and travel benefits of this card, you should think hard about its high annual fee before you decide to apply. Ask yourself whether the benefits you expect to receive are worth $995 a year to you.

Add an additional authorized user at $295 per year, and the total annual fee for you plus your second user jumps to $1,290. Multiple that by, say, five years, and you’ll have spent $6,450 to keep this card in your wallet.

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

It’s important to do a costs vs. benefits comparison when you’re thinking about applying for a new credit card. That’s especially true of a luxury card with a high annual fee.

You may get the most value out of the card’s 2 percent redemption rate for cash back or airfare. But to recoup the full cost of the annual fee, you’d have to charge nearly $50,000 per year to your card, then redeem all your points from those purchases for cash back or airfare.

“When considering any premium card, you need to compare the value of the benefits you’ll actually use to the price of the card and to the best alternative card which offers similar perks,” says Gary Leff, the travel expert behind miles and points blog .

Travel rewards vs. cash back: How to choose the right card for you

An example of a benefit you may or may not use is the $100 Global Entry application fee credit.

If you use your Mastercard® Gold Card™ to pay the $100 application fee, you’ll get a credit on your card statement two to three weeks later for the full amount of the fee. But if you don’t apply for the program, this benefit won’t have any value for you.

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

The Mastercard® Gold Card™ offers a lot of benefits, but so do other luxury-class cards like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® and Platinum Card® from American Express, to name just two. Here’s a look at some of the factors you might be interested in when comparing the three cards:

Mastercard® Gold Card™ Platinum Card® from American Express Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
Annual fee $995; $295 for each additional user annually $550 $0 intro, $89 after first year
Sign-up bonus or welcome offer  None 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months 40,000 bonus miles after you spend 3,000 in the first 3 months
 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

2x miles on all purchases
 Travel benefits

 $200 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

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

No foreign transaction fees

Your miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing

No foreign transaction fees

Other perks  Gold-plated card, luxury gifts and access to members-only magazine Access to the Global Lounge Collection and complimentary benefits with Fine Hotels & Resorts Get 5 percent of your miles back to use toward your next redemption every time you redeem

* Redemption value for rewards points may vary

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

The Mastercard® Gold Card™ offers plenty of perks, but we think they’re mostly in the “nice to have” category. If you travel frequently, sometimes need help when you’re on the road and are willing to book your rewards travel through the card’s affiliated agency, this card’s benefits could be valuable for you.

The sticking point is, of course, that extremely high annual fee. If your objective is a luxury-class card with good travel benefits, there are alternatives that can offer a better value.


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