Mastercard® Black Card™ Review: High-End Perks, But with a High Annual Fee

Mastercard® Black Card™
Full Review

The Mastercard® Black Card™ is the mid-tier card in Mastercard’s Luxury Card lineup. It strikes the best balance of cost and value among the three Luxury Cards, offering a $100 annual travel credit, free airport lounge access and travel insurance, among other perks. Those features help offset the card’s hefty $495 annual fee. But if you don’t travel often, plenty of travel rewards credit cards with comparable features cost less. If that’s the case, you should give the CardCruncher tool a spin—it’ll suggest the best rewards credit card based on your spending habits. But if you’re set on knowing more about the Mastercard® Black Card™, check out our full review.

Mastercard® Black Card™ Quick Review

Here’s an overview of the key details of the Mastercard® Black Card™:

Annual Fee: $495

APR: 0% for 15 months on balance transfers, then 17.24%

Sign-Up Bonus: $0

Benefits:

  • 1 point per dollar on all purchases
  • Redeem for airfare at $0.02 per point
  • Redeem for cash back at $0.015 per point
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 24/7 travel concierge service
  • Complimentary benefits, like room upgrades, when you book through Luxury Card Travel
  • $100 annual airfare credit
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit
  • Access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide
  • Travel insurance
  • Price protection and extended warranty
  • Exclusive access to thousands of live events through Mastercard Priceless

Other Fees:

  • Balance transfer fee of $5 or 3%, whichever is greater
  • Cash advance fee of $10 or 5%, whichever is greater
  • Up to $37 late payment fee
  • Up to $37 returned payment fee

Why apply for the Mastercard® Black Card™

Consider applying for the Mastercard® Black Card™ if these reasons sound appealing:

Earn flexible rewards with every purchase

You earn 1 point for every dollar you spend with the Mastercard® Black Card™. This may not seem like much, but each point is worth $0.02 when redeemed for airfare. Essentially, it’s like earning 2 points per dollar. That compares favorably to most travel rewards cards. The Mastercard® Black Card™ also gives you the option to redeem your rewards for cash back, which is rare among travel credit cards, but if you go this route, your points will be worth only $0.015 each.

Travel in luxury

As a Mastercard® Black Card™ holder, you’ll receive a $100 annual airfare credit valid on any airline, with no blackout dates. You’ll also receive a credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership, which let you can zoom through security lines at the airport. Enjoy free airport lounge access in more than 1,000 airports worldwide. If you book your travel through Luxury Card Travel, a service from Luxury Card, you could be eligible for free room upgrades, spa credits, food and drinks and more. You also won’t pay any foreign transaction fees on the Mastercard® Black Card™ when you travel abroad. Given the abundance of features, the Mastercard® Black Card™ makes a ton of sense for a frequent traveler.

Your trips and purchases are protected

Like most premium travel credit cards, the Mastercard® Black Card™ offers rental car, baggage delay, travel accident and trip cancellation or interruption insurance. The card also offers protections for your purchases, including an extended warranty on qualifying items. Plus, if you find a lower price on any item that you purchased with your Mastercard® Black Card™ within 120 days, the card issuer will refund you the difference. You may never need to take advantage of these benefits, but if you do, they could more than make up for the card’s $495 annual fee.

Mastercard® Black Card™: Drawbacks and Downsides

The Mastercard® Black Card™ has a number of luxurious perks, but it also has a few notable drawbacks:

It has a high annual fee

You’ll pay $495 per year for the privilege of having the Mastercard® Black Card™ in your wallet. That’s not the most expensive card out there, but it’s still quite high compared to most cash-back rewards cards. If you won’t spend enough to offset the annual fee each year, you’re better off with a travel rewards card with a lower annual fee. Just note that cards with lower annual fees likely won’t include an annual airfare credit or airport lounge access.

There aren’t bonus rewards

Unlike most rewards credit cards, the Mastercard® Black Card™ doesn’t offer any bonus categories with increased rewards earnings. There sign up bonus is also lacking—a big fat $0. While the opportunity to earn bonus rewards would be nice, you should still be able to rack up points fairly quickly with the Mastercard® Black Card™ as your go-to credit card.

Mastercard® Black Card™ Alternatives

The Mastercard® Black Card™ isn’t a great fit for everyone. If it’s not right for you, consider one of these credit cards instead:

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ offers 3 points per dollar on all travel and dining purchases, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Each point is worth $0.015 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, so they’re less valuable than points on the Mastercard® Black Card™ when redeemed for airfare. Even so, the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ earns points faster. It also gives you the option to transfer your points to any of its partner travel rewards programs, like United Airlines and British Airways. Those redemptions can be even more valuable. Considering you’ll earn 3X points on dining and travel, you could easily earn more rewards—plus, the card comes with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points

The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ has an annual fee of $300 annual airfare credit will go a long way toward covering this. The card also offers a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership, travel insurance, airport lounge access and purchase protections.

Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®

If you don’t travel often enough to justify paying for a premium travel rewards credit card, the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® may be a better fit. For just $0 the first year, then $89 per year, you can earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase. Additionally, you’ll receive a whopping sign-up bonus of 70,000 miles. You can redeem these miles for statement credits toward any travel-related expense, and you’ll automatically receive 5% of your points back every time you redeem.

Unfortunately, like most travel rewards cards in this price range, the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® lacks premium perks, like an annual travel credit or airport lounge access. It also doesn’t offer travel insurance, so you’ll have to either purchase this separately or seek out another travel rewards credit card that does.

Mastercard® Black Card™ FAQs

Below are answeres to some frequently asked questions about the Mastercard® Black Card™:

How do you qualify for a Mastercard® Black Card™?

While Barclays doesn’t publish information on the credit score required to qualify for its cards, including the Mastercard® Black Card™. Even so, assume you need good to excellent credit. This is usually defined as a score of 700 or above. You’ll also need a relatively high income, given the card’s high credit limit and hefty annual fee.

What is the credit limit on the Mastercard® Black Card™?

Your credit limit will be determined by your income and credit score when you apply. Most Mastercard® Black Card™ holders report an initial credit limit of $20,000 to $25,000. You can request a credit limit increase later on.

Bottom Line: Should You Apply for the Mastercard® Black Card™?

The Mastercard® Black Card™ offers a fair amount of value to frequent travelers, but the high annual fee and lower cash-back redemption rate won’t be great if you fly once or twice per year. As with any card that charges an annual fee, the Mastercard® Black Card™ requires a bit of estimating to figure out if you’ll reap enough rewards to offset its annual fee. If you don’t, you’re better off with a rewards card with a lower fee—and there are plenty of great rewards cards out there.

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