Review: MasterCard Black Card

The MasterCard Black Card has been marketed as “the ultimate buying tool.” Made of stainless steel (for no particular reason other than aesthetics), it has an annual fee of $495. Can the Black Card’s rewards really make that $495 yearly price tag worth it? Our review will let you know:

The first thing we look at in a card like this is the rewards. The MasterCard Black Card offers you 1 point per dollar charged to the card, which doesn’t sound like much, but that converts to 1.5% cash back when redeemed for cash. So, for example, 10,000 points equals $150 when redeemed for cash.

However, if you redeem those points toward airfare, they double in value, meaning that, for example, 25,000 points would have $500 in value when purchasing airline tickets through the card’s rewards program.

You can also use your points for other merchandise, gift card, or “experience” rewards.

However, unless you really pile up the points every year, you’re not going to make up for that fat annual fee. So, what else does the Black Card promise? Well, travel rewards are the biggest perk, including (but not limited to):

  • A yearly $100 credit toward airline purchases with the card, including tickets and baggage.
  • Access to over 500 airport lounges worldwide.
  • A $100 credit for the Global Entry application fee if you choose to apply
  • Trip cancellation and/or change fee reimbursement
  • Travel accident insurance

The obvious comparison to this card is the American Express Platinum Card, and it stacks up well in that competition. We particularly like that the points here can be used for a straight 1.5% cash back; that differentiates it from other cards in this space. However, for any card with an annual fee of almost $500, it still only makes sense if you put a ton of charges on your credit card and are a frequent traveler. Otherwise, you are better off choosing a travel card with fewer perks but also fewer costs.

Take a careful look at your spending habits and competing cards before making a decision, but don’t base your decision on a stainless steel card that suggests you are a VIP unless the numbers actually add up. If you’d like to apply for the Visa Black Card, you’ll find an online application here.