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March 22, 2019

Mastercard Black Card Review: Is $495 Worth It?

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
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With a steep $495 annual fee, is the Mastercard® Black Card™ worth it? And how does the luxury benefits stack up against its competitors?

Mastercard Black Card
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Overall Score

4.4

Rewards

4.5

Fees

3.0

Benefits

5.0

Concierge

5.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Metal design
  • Concierge service
  • Travel benefits
  • $495 annual fee
  • No signup bonus

Bottom Line

Sleek metal credit card with luxury benefits

Mastercard Black Card aims to provide the ultimate luxury travel card experience.

It offers a 24/7 elite concierge service, 2% return when redeemed for airfare, as well as a handful of travel benefits, and other unique perks.

This black stainless-steel card has a weight to it that makes it feel like no other card. It's sleek, sexy, and certainly eye catching.

But with no welcome bonus or transfer partners, is it worth the $495 annual fee?

Read on for an in-depth review and see how it compares against other top premium travel cards.

Who the Mastercard Black Card Is Good For

First, let's get something straight. The Mastercard Black Card is definitely not designed for everyone.

So who is this card for?

  • Frequent Travelers: This card was designed for those who travel and travel often. Perks like a Global Entry application credit, complementary access to airport lounges, and reward points that don't expire are nice travel buffs. However, where it really shines is its concierge service. Specialists are available 24/7 to assist with ANY travel need or desire.

  • Big Spenders: With a high $495 annual fee and mediocre rewards (more later), this card is aimed at those who do not want to juggle multiple credit card reward programs and are capable of spending enough to take full advantage of the luxury perks.

The card's value is based more on the benefits than its actual monetary reward structure.

That said, it's still important to understand what you get, and what similar cards offer.

How to get a Mastercard Black Card:
Mastercard Black Card is not an exclusive, invitation-only card. But it does require excellent credit. This usually means a credit score of 720 or more. There is no income requirement to qualify, though a higher income will be more favorable.

Earning and Redeeming Rewards

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The Mastercard Black Card has no welcome bonus to help offset the annual fee for the first year.

The reward earn rate is 1 point per every $1 spent on purchases. There are no bonus categories.

The redemption value is:

  • 2% when redeemed for airfare. Redeem through Luxury Card's travel portal for airfare with no blackout dates or seat restrictions.

  • 1.5% when redeemed for cash back. Can be applied as statement credit or direct deposit into your bank account.

  • 1% when redeemed for hotel and car rentals. This option is even worse than just straight up cash back.

This means the most you'll get is equivalent to 2% back. This may not be the best (when compared to similar cards), but it's actually a pretty decent redemption rate. Keep in mind, no other elite cards offer a 1.5% cash back rate on everyday purchases.

What's the Mastercard Black Card Credit Limit?
Mastercard Black Card is a high-limit credit card. Users with high incomes report credit limits of $20,000 to $25,000 or even more. The lowest reported credit limit is $5,000.

Pros (Luxury Perks)

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The Black Card is meant to be more about the benefits than the reward value. So let's take a look at what kind of benefits it offers. We'll also offer some comparisons so you can make your own choice.

  1. Elite Concierge Service. Luxury Card concierge specialists are available 24/7 around the world to help with travel, planning, and entertainment requests. They are there to help personally tailor your travel experience, no matter the request.

    Services the concierge service covers:
    • Helping you research and plan trips.
    • Booking complicated travel itineraries for large groups.
    • Making restaurant reservations in a foreign country.
    • Finding tickets to a sold-out show.

  2. Lounge Access (Priority Pass Select). You get complimentary Priority Pass Select membership. This gives you access to over 1,000 airport lounges across the world.

    For very frequent travelers, this membership can be worth a great deal. The Mastercard Black Card also allows you to bring in unlimited guests at no extra cost (though individual lounges may have their own rules).

    This is a little better than similar cards, as Chase Sapphire Reserve and Platinum Card from American Express (a CreditDonkey partner) only allow 2 guests at no charge.

    This is the equivalent of the Priority Pass Prestige membership, which costs $399/year. The coverage is even better, as you can bring in unlimited guests at no extra cost.

  3. $100 annual airline fee credit. Every calendar year, you'll receive a $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases, such as airline tickets, baggage fees, and upgrades. This credit can be used for any airline. It will be automatically applied to your account.

    This credit effectively reduces the annual fee by $100. Though it's not as great compared to what other cards offer, such as the Sapphire Reserve's $300 annual travel credit, or AMEX Platinum's $200 airline fee credit.

  4. $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre. Every 5 years, you get a $100 application fee credit to either Global Entry or TSA Pre. Global Entry expedites customs upon returning to the US, while TSA Pre expedites security check when flying out.

    It's not an automatic enrollment in the program, as you'll still have to pass the screening. You're credited back the fee when you use the card to pay for the application.

    Tip: Between the two, we recommend Global Entry if you qualify. Global Entry is more expensive ($100 for 5-year membership vs. $85 for 5-year membership), but it includes TSA Pre. So you kill two birds with one stone.

  5. Hotel Benefits. When you book hotel stays with Luxury Card Travel, you get competitive rates and complimentary benefits. This may include late checkout, room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, and resort and spa credits.

    Mastercard Black Card claims that the average total value of benefits is about $500 per stay.

    This benefit can really be very valuable for busy people who don't have time to deal with the little things.

  6. Reward Points Don't Expire. You don't have to worry about utilizing your rewards within a limited time window. They're yours forever as long as your account remains open, active, and in good standing. It's a simple perk that improves the overall experience.

  7. No Foreign Transaction Fee. A standard perk for travel cards.

  8. Other Luxury Benefits. Some benefits exclusive to the Luxury Card include:

    • Mastercard Priceless events: You get access to invitation-only events, such as sporting events and shows.

    • Luxury gifts: As a thank you to cardmembers, you'll receive gifts throughout the year from some of the world's most recognized brand names - though it's not clear what those are.

    • LUXURY MAGAZINE: Every quarter, you'll receive the exclusive publication covering travel, fashion, real estate, vehicles, technology, etc.

  9. Other Luxury Services. The Mastercard Black Card offers some services to reduce your hassle on travel days. These include:

    • Global luggage delivery: Send your luggage ahead of time so you don't have to deal with baggage claim.

    • Airport meet and greet: Have someone assist you through the airport process to avoid crowds.

    • Chauffeured transportation: Hire a professional driver to shuttle you around.

    However, these services are NOT free. You still have to pay. It's just that the Mastercard Black Card reps can help assist you with the arrangements.

  10. Intro APR for balance transfers. This card offers 0% APR for balance transfers for 15 months for transfers completed within 45 days of account opening. After that, the APR will be 17.24% (Variable).

Cons (Who This Card Is NOT For)

Mastercard Black Card is NOT aimed towards miles collectors and value seekers. If you're all about gaming the airline miles system, it will not appeal to you.

The Mastercard Black Card has:

  • No signup bonus. Welcome bonuses are one of the best things about any new credit card, and the Mastercard Black Card offers none. There's nothing to help offset that huge annual fee.

  • No bonus categories. You only get 1 point per $1. This makes it hard to rack up points fast. Other cards offer more points in bonus categories (like the Reserve's 3x points on travel and dining).

  • No transfer partners. There are no travel partners. You will not be able to squeeze in more value by transferring points to airlines and hotels.

If you're a miles collector, look into cards like Chase Sapphire Reserve, AMEX Platinum, and Citi Prestige instead.

Travel and Purchase Benefits

Mastercard Black Card also offers these travel and purchase protections:

  • Car rental waiver: You get primary insurance against theft and damage when you rent an eligible car and decline the rental company's collision insurance.

  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption: You can be reimbursed up to $5,000 per trip (up to $10,000 per 12-month period) when your eligible trip is canceled or interrupted due to covered reasons. Coverage is secondary.

  • Trip delay: If your eligible trip is delayed more than 6 hours for a covered reason, you can be reimbursed up to $300 per trip (up to $600 per 12-month period). Coverage is secondary.

  • Baggage delay: If your checked baggage is delayed in transit, you will be reimbursed for replacing essential personal or business items.

  • Travel accident insurance: You and your family are insured up to $250,000 in cases of accidental death or dismemberment when flying in a common carrier.

  • Price protection: If you buy an eligible item and it goes on sale within 120 days from date of purchase, you may be reimbursed for the price difference.

  • Purchase assurance: This protection will replace, repair, or reimburse your eligible item in the event of theft or damage within 90 days of purchase.

  • Extended warranty: For eligible purchases with a U.S. warranty of 24 months or less, this protection will double that warranty.

It's nice that the Mastercard Black Card offers Price Protection, as Chase and AMEX both dropped this benefit.

How It Compares

Compared to AMEX Platinum:
American Express Platinum
Apply for The Platinum Card from American Express
AMEX Platinum has a slightly higher annual fee of $550 (See Rates & Fees), but it is loaded with benefits with monetary value. These include:

  • $200 airline fee credit (though you have to select one airline).
  • Up to $200 annual Uber credit.
  • Up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit.
  • $100 Global Entry/TSA Pre credit every 4 years.
  • Complimentary access to 5 airport lounge networks, include Priority Pass lounges, Centurion Lounges, and Delta SkyClub.
  • Complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi membership.

In addition, you get automatic elite status at Marriott, Hilton, and certain car rental companies. You also get hotel and shipboard credit on qualifying hotel and cruise bookings.

You earn 5x points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. You can transfer points to over 20 transfer partners, including Delta, Hawaiian, Air France, and Air Canada.

Compared to Chase Sapphire Reserve:
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Apply for Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 3x points on travel and dining purchases worldwide. The points are worth 50% more value when you book travel on the Chase travel portal. They can also be transferred to airline and hotel partners for even more value (including United, Southwest, and JetBlue).

Despite the $450 annual fee, the Reserve offers a $300 annual travel credit. This can be used for any eligible travel purchase, like airfare, hotels, Uber, trains, and even parking garages.

Bottom Line: Is It Worth It?

© CreditDonkey

This is a difficult question to answer.

Is a Gucci handbag worth it? Is a Bentley worth it? If you're asking the right demographic, then yes. If you're asking discount shoppers, then no way.

Those who can afford it will love how impressive it looks. And the rewards are still better than average, with some luxury perks thrown in. It also makes a good alternative black card for those who aren't quite qualify for the iconic AMEX Centurion Card (also known as American Express Black Card).

If we're purely talking from a value standpoint, other cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, AMEX Platinum, and Citi Prestige offer more rewards. But they tend to be more complicated to use.

Remember - the Mastercard Black Card is not for those concerned with getting maximum value. It's a luxury product aimed to impress while delivering solid perks and a premium time saving user experience.

Next Step: View the issuer's official application, terms, and details

Disclaimer: This content was first published on March 22, 2019. Information including APR, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check the issuer's website for updated information.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

For rates and fees of the American Express Platinum card, please click here.

Disclaimer: The information for the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

More from CreditDonkey:


Chase Sapphire Reserve Review


American Express Platinum Review: Is It Worth It?


Credit Cards for International Travel

More Articles in Reviews

Mastercard Black Card
Apply for Mastercard Black Card
At Issuer's Secure Site
  • Stainless Steel – Patented Black-PVD-Coated Metal Card
  • 2% Value for Airfare Redemptions
  • 1.5% Value for Cash Back Redemptions
  • 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge™ – Available by phone, email, and mobile chat
  • Exclusive Luxury Card Travel Benefits
  • $100 Annual Airline Credit Toward Qualifying Purchases
  • $100 Global Entry Application Fee Credit
  • Annual Fee: $495 ($195 for each Authorized User)
  • Go to issuer's official application, terms, and details
Cash Back RewardsAirline RewardsConcierge
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/A
0% for first fifteen billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening.
17.24% (Variable)
$495 ($195 for each Authorized User)

Compare Mastercard Black Card to:

Compare Mastercard Black Card vs Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Compare Mastercard Black Card vs American Express Platinum

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Compare Mastercard Black Card vs American Express Gold

American Express® Gold Card


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December
10
2018

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.