The Mastercard® Black Card™: Is It Worth Paying $495 Annually?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

Editor's Rating

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An expensive credit card with a lot of luxury benefits. However, most people with excellent credit can get more bang for their buck with other cards of this type.
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Editor's Rating

?
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers.","showIcon":false,"tooltipLabel":"?"}

An expensive credit card with a lot of luxury benefits. However, most people with excellent credit can get more bang for their buck with other cards of this type.
  • On Barclays' Secure Website
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The Mastercard® Black Card™ (formerly the Visa Black Card) is a good luxury credit card intended for individuals with excellent credit scores and high incomes. While good, it won’t make any ‘best’ lists, because there are other cards in this category that perform better from a dollar-to-dollar perspective. For example, you can get better airport lounge access and airline fee credits with the Citi Prestige® Card while paying less annually.

Review: Is The Mastercard® Black Card™ The Most Luxurious Card?

Despite being one of the most expensive credit cards available to consumers, the Mastercard® Black Card™ doesn’t come with enough benefits to make it stand out from the crowd. It’s a solid offer and has enough features given its price tag. However, consumers will be better off applying for other premium cards, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express. Other premium cards tend to come with better airport lounge access features and welcome bonuses. The latter often times help put a dent in the high annual fee. It's really disappointing that the Mastercard® Black Card™ does not have any welcome incentives.

Good For…Bad For…
Those looking for a stainless steel credit cardAnyone who wants expansive lounge access
Individuals looking for a premium credit card with decent everyday spend rewardsPeople who don't travel too much

There’s still a lot the Mastercard® Black Card™ does well. It has strong rewards on everyday spending. Users are awarded 1 point per $1 everywhere they shop. Those points then translate to 1.5% cash back, or 2% if used towards travel redemptions. These are above-average rates not seen on most cards. Additionally, Mastercard® Black Card™ cardmembers get complimentary access to Lounge Club, Global Entry Fee waivers, and annual airline fee credit. All these benefits can be quite valuable to someone who calls an airport their second home.

Bottom Line: Ultimately, you can get better benefits for less money with other credit cards. Those who like this card’s stainless steel construction, luxury magazine subscription, and other ancillary benefits may want to sign-up regardless – these features are fairly unique. However, from a pure dollar perspective, consumers can do better.

Mastercard® Black Card™ Benefits & Features

The Mastercard® Black Card™ is a luxury card mainly intended for individuals who find themselves traveling a lot. The card provides complimentary access to airport lounges, airline annual airline credit, and other travel benefits. On top of this, being a cardholder gives you 1 point per dollar on all spending. Each point can be traded in for 2% value for airfare redemptions and 1.5% value for cash back redemptions

The card comes with a $495 ($195 for each Authorized User added to the account) annual fee. If you want to add authorized users to the account it will cost you an additional $195 per year for each one.

Lounge Benefits

Primary cardholders receive membership to Lounge Club. This gives you the ability to enter participating airport lounges all around the world. These have access to varying amenities – anything from conference rooms to showers. The exact details on what’s available in one lounge versus another will depend on the location.

As of August 2016, Lounge Club provides access to 319 lounges. This isn’t nearly as expansive as Priority Pass (PP) – something users get with competing premium credit cards. There are roughly 520 PP lounges worldwide – a 200 difference.

Annual Airline Fee Credit & Global Entry Fee Waiver

With the Mastercard® Black Card™ you receive $100 every year that can be applied towards airline fees – anything from tickets, to in-flight purchases and baggage fees. If you find yourself saddled with these types of charges every year, a benefit like this can partially offset the cost of the card’s hefty annual fee.

Furthermore, the Mastercard® Black Card™ will cover your Global Entry application fee – a benefit valued at $100. Global Entry is a program that expedites customs clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. After submitting your application and paying the fee, you go through a brief interview and are allowed to go through U.S. customs much faster. Global Entry applicants are automatically enrolled in TSA Pre-check. This benefit allows you to move through TSA security lines faster as well. You pass through a separate line in which you aren’t required to take off your shoes or do other things that would normally slow the process down. Together, these benefits can save you hours at the airport.

How Does The Mastercard® Black Card™ Compare To Other Options?

There are two key factors that separate the Mastercard® Black Card™ from other luxury cards – annual fee and welcome bonuses. With the $495 ($195 for each Authorized User added to the account) annual fee, the Mastercard® Black Card™ is more expensive than other options. It also doesn’t have any sign-up bonus. Together, these factors are what make this a rather weak card by comparison. We took a deeper dive into how the card compares to other cards of its type.

Mastercard® Black Card™ vs The Platinum Card® from American Express

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The Platinum Card® from American Express is a premium and travel credit cards on the market. It has some of the best airport lounge benefits available. On top of giving users Priority Pass membership, you also get access to the Centurion Lounges. Though few in number, they are some of the most highly reviewed ones. Some, like the one in New York’s LaGuardia Airport, even have a dentist’s office. Though it has a slightly higher annual fee ($550 vs $495 ($195 for each Authorized User added to the account)), The Platinum Card® from American Express is better than the Mastercard® Black Card™ in the luxury department due to its superior lounge access (See Rates & Fees).

The only spot where the Mastercard® Black Card™ is better is spending rewards. The rewards rate on the card varies between 1.5% and 2%, depending on how you redeem. On The Platinum Card® from American Express, you will get a 1% rate on most purchases. However, if you’re thinking of getting a card for the rewards it will provide you on day-to-day spending, there are better and cheaper options than either of these two cards.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

Mastercard® Black Card™ vs Citi Prestige® Card

Citi Prestige® Card
This product is not available through ValuePenguin.
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The Citi Prestige® Card is another strong high-annual-fee credit card. The card has a solid lounge access offering – similar to that of The Platinum Card® from American Express. With the Citi Prestige® Card, you get a $250 Travel credit that can be used on all travel expenses charged to your card. This benefit renews each year and is $150 better than what you get with the Mastercard® Black Card™.

All the other bells and whistles we’ve come to expect on premium cards are present on the Citi Prestige® Card as well. Cardholders get Global Entry fee reimbursement, a concierge, and no foreign transaction fees. You don't have to worry about missing out on a any major benefits if you get the Citi Prestige® Card instead of the Mastercard® Black Card™.

The information related to the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Comparison Tool

The best card for you will ultimately depend on your spending habits. Enter your info into our tool below to figure out which card will get you the most rewards.

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Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).

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