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Mastercard® Black Card™ Review: Is it worth the $495 annual fee?

Brendan Harkness
By Brendan Harkness Mar 24, 2020 | Updated Jul 09, 2020 • 10 min read

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Mastercard® Black Card™

Min Credit Level Excellent
Annual Fee $495
Regular APR 14.99% Variable
At a glance

The Mastercard Black Card is a premium metal travel card with a $495 annual fee but meager rewards, offering an equivalent of 1% to 2% cash back. Perks include a $100 travel credit, Priority Pass Select membership, and a VIP hotel and travel benefits program.

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Our Rating: 4 Out of 5 stars

While some people may want this card for the perceived prestige of having a black card that’s made of metal (stainless steel to be exact), it comes with some great benefits that can go a long way toward justifying the annual fee. But you can likely get the same or better perks with other cards, with smaller annual fees. (Check out other metal credit cards.)

Why We Like It

  • Strong benefits
  • High credit line potential
  • Sleek, stainless steel design

Why It Could Be Better

  • No signup bonus
  • Relatively low reward earnings
  • High annual fee

Mastercard® Black Card™

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$495
Regular APR14.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Patented black PVD metal card—weighing 22 grams.
  • 2% value for airfare redemptions with no blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • 1.5% value for cash back redemptions.
  • 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge®—available by phone, email and live mobile chat.
  • Exclusive Luxury Card Travel® benefits (e.g., amenities, room upgrades and complimentary food and beverages).
  • Up to $100 annual airline credit and $100 Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check application fee credit.
  • Cell Phone Protection, Lyft credits, Postmates discounts, Fandango perks and more.
  • Annual fee: $495 ($195 for each Authorized User).
  • Terms and conditions apply.

The Mastercard® Black Card™ is a metal rewards credit card for people with excellent credit, clearly designed to provide a top-notch credit card experience.

If you’re looking for a thick, black, metal credit card this is one of the most impressive card designs out there.

It has a hefty annual fee, and while the rewards program is not the most valuable, this card comes with high-end benefits like airport lounge access, a concierge available for live chat via the Luxury Card mobile app, and thousands of dollars in credits at hotels.

This card is part of the Luxury Card family of cards, which includes:

Insider Advice: Getting The Most Out of Your Card

  • Book through Luxury Card Travel: Use the VIP Hotels & Travel benefit as much as you can to get large credits and discounts at luxury hotels.
  • Check out the airport lounges: Use the included Priority Pass Select membership to get complimentary airport lounge access with unlimited guests.
  • Take advantage of the concierge: Download the Luxury Card app to chat live with a concierge 24/7 and get access to exclusive tickets, restaurant reservations, and more.
  • Redeem your points for travel: To maximize the value of points, always redeem them for travel purchases through the Luxury Card rewards site to get 2 cents per point.
  • Limit your high annual fee cards: You probably don’t need more than one high annual fee travel card in your wallet, whether it’s this card or one of its top competitors (listed below), because they tend to have similar benefits.

The Rewards

This card earns the equivalent of 1% to 2% cash back on all purchases, depending on how you redeem your points. Unlike many travel-focused cards, this card does not have a signup bonus.

Earning

Spending Rewards
  • 1X point per dollar on every purchase

When considering the annual fee, a maximum value of 2 cents per dollar spent is somewhat low compared to other cards, but if you just want to earn a flat rate on all expenses 2% is not bad. You can easily get a cash back card with no annual fee that earns 1.5%–2% on all purchases, but the main value you get from the Black Card will come from the benefits rather than the rewards.

Redeeming

There are three possible values you’ll get when redeeming points:

  • 2 cents per point for airfare redemptions
  • 1.5 cents per point when redeemed as a statement credit or direct deposit (cash back redemptions)
  • 1 cent per point when redeemed for gift cards or merchandise

When redeeming for statement credits you can apply points in increments of $1.

When redeeming for airfare, you can redeem in increments of 50 points and there’s no limit to the price of the ticket you can purchase. If you don’t have enough points to cover the cost of your airfare you can pay the difference.

You can redeem points at myluxurycard.com or by calling 844-724-2500 and selecting option one between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday Eastern Time.

And for some added peace of mind, you won’t have to worry about your points expiring. As long as your card is open, active, and in good standing, your points will always be there for you to redeem. However, with this card you won’t be able to transfer points to airline or hotel partners. In other cases, like with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review), you can transfer your points to find a higher per-point value.

The Benefits

Arguably, the true value of the Mastercard Black Card lies in its benefits. Some of them work to make the annual fee more manageable, and the rest aim to make travel more comfortable. These include luxury travel benefits such as credits for travel expenses, exclusive access to VIP discounts, and airport lounge entry.

  • Travel credit: This card comes with an annual $100 travel credit, which can be applied to travel expenses like airfare, baggage fees, and in-flight purchases.
  • Global Entry credit: Another easy-to-value benefit of this card is the $100 Global Entry application fee credit. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that provides expedited entry to the U.S. (it can include TSA PreCheck).
  • Priority Pass Select membership: Unlike other cards that limit the number of airport lounge visits or guests, the Black Card allows unlimited visits and unlimited guests, with no need to call in advance.
  • Luxury Card Concierge: The Black Card comes with a personal 24/7 concierge service. Most credit cards require you to call the concierge by phone, and while you can do that with this card, you can also chat live through a messaging interface in the Luxury Card app.
  • VIP Hotel & Travel benefits: These include “an incomparable array of amenities such as room upgrades, spa credits, complimentary food and beverage and competitive rates from over 3,000 properties from the world’s finest travel destinations” when booking through Luxury Card Travel, according to the official website for the card. You can look through a book about all the hotels online.

Luxury Benefits

The Black Card has a few other benefits that are a bit ambiguous and hard to value, so I put them all together in this section. These benefits might be nice add-ons, but to me the real value of this card comes from the benefits mentioned above.

  • Mastercard Priceless Program: According to the Luxury Card website, “members enjoy curated, invitation-only, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Enjoy a look behind the scenes, sit courtside, see the dress rehearsal before opening night or learn skills from top experts in their trade. Priceless delivers exclusive opportunities to go beyond the ordinary.”
  • Luxury Gifts: As a cardholder, you’ll randomly receive gifts “from some of the world’s most iconic and recognized brand names.” I say randomly because the official card website says the gift program “has no predetermined schedule or frequency.” So, if you get this card you might get some surprises in the mail. If you’re a cardholder, leave a comment and let us know what you got!
  • Luxury Magazine: The Black Card website says this magazine is “exclusive to Luxury Card members,” yet they link to luxurymagazine.com, which appears to be accessible to anyone. It’s possible they mean the print edition is only available to cardholders, but either way this seems like a pretty weak benefit of the card.

Other Benefits

Besides the high-end perks above, the Luxury cards also come with some World Elite Mastercard benefits:

  • Lyft credits: Get $10 in Lyft credits per month when you take five rides and pay with your card.
  • Postmates discount: Get a $5 discount on all orders over $25.
  • Boxed discount: Get 5% cash rewards on eligible Boxed.com purchases.
  • Fandango discount: Enroll in Fandango VIP for free to earn 250 Fandango VIP+ points per ticket, enough for a $5 reward.
  • ShopRunner: Enroll in ShopRunner to get free two-day shipping and returns at participating online retailers.
  • onefinestay membership: Get a 10% discount on onefinestay bookings, plus free WiFi and a complimentary iPhone (with free local calls and data) to use during your stay.

The Terms & Fees

Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
14.99% Variable 0% for 15 months, then 14.99% Variable 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
$495 0%
Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
3% ($5 min) 5% ($10 min)
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Up to 27.24% (Variable) Up to $37 Up to $37

If you travel frequently and make good use of the benefits, the annual fee may be worth it to you. If you want to add authorized users to the account, each one will cost you an additional $195 per year.

There’s no foreign transaction fee, which I think is a must for cards marketed as travel cards.

Interest rates are not very high, although we recommend you avoid interest completely. The balance transfer intro APR offer could be nice, but it’s probably not something people in the market for this card would need. The other fees are all pretty standard for what you’ll find on similar cards.

The Bottom Line

The Mastercard® Black Card™ is a sleekly designed, stainless steel card which offers strong, high-end benefits. While it does come at an annual cost of $495, the benefits, which include multiple credits, can lessen that blow.

The rewards are quite poor for a premium card, with a notable lack of point transfer partners. There’s no signup bonus, either, which you often find on travel cards like this.

In the world of elite travel cards, the Black Card doesn’t really match up to the competition. Other cards in the same price range offer larger credits and more exciting benefits like hotel memberships with their own sets of top-tier perks.

One thing which sets the Black Card apart, however, is the unlimited free guests it allows in airport lounges with its Priority Pass membership. Most cards limit the number of people you can bring in with you for free at two, and after that guest fees apply. If you’ve got a lot of people traveling with you, this would be a pretty handy benefit to add some extra comfort to your trip.

The other thing the Black Card has going for it is its clean aesthetic and striking metal design.

So if those two points are things you appreciate in credit cards, this could certainly be the one for you. Otherwise, we have some strong contenders listed in the alternative section below for you to check out.

How to Apply for the Mastercard Black Card

The card issuer is Barclays, so if you apply it will be the bank evaluating your credit to determine if you’ll be approved. Barclays usually pulls information from your TransUnion credit report.

The Black card is intended for people with good or excellent credit, so if your credit doesn’t meet the requirements you may not be approved. You can apply now securely on the Luxury Card website.

Qualifications and Requirements

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Personal identifying information: Name, birth date, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name (for security verification), email address, and phone number
  • Employment and financial information: Occupation, source of income, and total gross income

Mastercard® Black Card™

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$495
Regular APR14.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Patented black PVD metal card—weighing 22 grams.
  • 2% value for airfare redemptions with no blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • 1.5% value for cash back redemptions.
  • 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge®—available by phone, email and live mobile chat.
  • Exclusive Luxury Card Travel® benefits (e.g., amenities, room upgrades and complimentary food and beverages).
  • Up to $100 annual airline credit and $100 Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check application fee credit.
  • Cell Phone Protection, Lyft credits, Postmates discounts, Fandango perks and more.
  • Annual fee: $495 ($195 for each Authorized User).
  • Terms and conditions apply.
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Alternatives to the Mastercard Black Card

Not a fan of the Mastercard Black Card? Never fear, we have a few different options lined up for you to take a look at.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Our rating
Min. credit level Excellent
Details
Annual Fee $550
Regular APR 16.99%-23.99% Variable

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review) is popular, and a relative newcomer in the high-end travel card market.

It has a slightly higher annual fee of $550, but its annual travel credit is $300, which is three times the travel credit of the Mastercard Black Card.

If you spend a lot on travel and dining, the Sapphire Reserve can provide much higher rewards than the Black Card. It earns 10X points on Lyft rides, with 3X points on travel (after the travel credit is used up) and dining expenses.

Depending on how you redeem the points, your effective rewards rate will usually be quite a bit higher with the Sapphire Reserve than the Black Card.

The Sapphire Reserve also has a big signup bonus of 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening, which the Mastercard Black Card lacks.

Spending Rewards
  • 10X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides
  • 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on:
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening

You’ll also earn an additional 50% point bonus when redeeming for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, which would give you 1.5 cents per point.

Point transfers to partner airlines and hotels could provide an even better value, potentially giving 2 cents per point or more.

  • $300 annual travel credit: You’ll get a $300 travel credit every year that will be automatically applied to any travel-related expenses you charge to your card.
  • Priority Pass Select membership: Get access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide. The cardholder and two guests can enter for free; additional guests cost $32 each.
  • Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection: Provides complimentary services and benefits at participating hotels and resorts
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit: Get a statement credit for the application fee for either one of these programs. You’ll get up to $100 once every four years.
  • Elite Hotel Benefits at Relais & Châteaux: Accelerated progress toward Club 5C member status with Relais & Châteaux luxury hotel and resort properties
  • Visa Infinite Concierge: Call for non-emergency help of all kinds, like making dinner reservations, travel suggestions, or finding good tickets to a show.
  • Point transfer: Transfer your points at a 1:1 rate to a variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs, like United, JetBlue, and Marriott.
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 16.99%-23.99% Variable
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $550

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit level Good
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee $550
Regular APR N/A
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) is the card that established this travel card tier, with a high annual fee and great benefits.

It comes with an annual fee of $550, but also has a $200 travel credit and $200 Uber credit, plus a $100 hotel credit that can be used over and over again. They’re much more valuable than the $100 travel credit offered by the Black Card.

The Platinum Card also features a 5X point multiplier for certain travel expenses, which the Black Card can’t come close to keeping up with. And in those categories, you’ll have the opportunity to earn 5X points on air travel and eligible hotel, 2X on other eligible travel expenses. It also has a solid welcome bonus, whereas the Black Card offers nothing.

With typical travel spending you can easily get more out of the Amex card, with its perks and intro bonus, than the Black Card.

Spending Rewards
  • 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar on:
    • Flights booked directly through airlines or through American Express Travel
    • Prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel
  • 2X Membership Rewards points per dollar on other eligible travel expenses booked through American Express Travel
  • 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 60,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
  • Airport lounge access: Cardholders get the best airport lounge access available on a credit card with the Global Lounge Collection, which includes Priority Pass lounges, Delta Sky Clubs, Centurion Lounges, and more.
  • $200 annual airline fee credit: Every year you can select an airline, and you’ll get a statement credit for up to $200 in fees (like checked bag fees or in-flight meals) charged by that airline.
  • $200 annual Uber credit: You’ll get a statement credit for up to $15 in Uber rides each month, except for December, which has a $35 credit.
  • $100 annual Saks credit: Up to $100 in statement credits each year for Saks Fifth Avenue: $50 from January through June, and $50 from July through December
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit: Get a statement credit for the application fee for either Global Entry ($100 every four years) or TSA PreCheck ($85 every four-and-a-half years).
  • Complimentary elite hotel statuses: Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
  • The Hotel Collection: A $100 hotel credit and room upgrades when available for every eligible two-night stay
  • Fine Hotels and Resorts Collection: Book at least two nights with hotels in this collection to get a room upgrade when available, daily breakfast for two, complimentary WiFi, up to $100 in credit for eligible charges when you check out, and more.
  • Point transfer: To airline and hotel loyalty programs, like Delta, British Airways, Marriott Bonvoy, and Hyatt
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $550
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,000 properties. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Do you never travel without your Mastercard Black Card, or have a travel card you like better? Let us know in the comments below!

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

Brendan Harkness
Written by

Brendan Harkness

Brendan has been writing about personal finance for over eight years, and is now taking on the challenge of bringing high quality credit education to the masses. He makes sure that Credit Card Insider is covering the most important credit topics transparently and precisely, and that we have up-to-date reviews of credit cards so you can find cards that are right for you.

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