Mastercard® Gold Card™ Review: Is it worth a $995 annual fee?

John Ganotis

John Ganotis | Reviews

Mar 08, 2018 | Updated Jul 06, 2018

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The Mastercard® Gold Card™ is a 24k-gold-plated metal credit card for people with excellent credit who travel frequently. It comes with a few high-end benefits, and an astronomical $995 annual fee.

If you really want a heavy credit card covered in actual gold, then this may be the card for you. But considering the Gold Card’s benefits and rewards, you can get more value from other cards that have lower annual fees.

This card is on the highest end of the Luxury Card line of cards, which includes:

Card Annual Fee
MasterCard® Titanium Card™ (Review) $195
MasterCard® Black Card™ (Review)  $495
MasterCard® Gold Card™ (This review)  $995

Keep reading to learn all about this card, or compare it to alternatives.

Mastercard® Gold Card™
Apply Now

Mastercard® Gold Card™

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $995
  • Interest Rate: 16.74% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 24K-Gold Plated – Patented Card Design
  • Luxury Card Rewards Program
  • 2% Value for Airfare Redemptions
  • 2% Value for Cash Back Redemptions
  • 24/7 Luxury Card ConciergeTM
  • Exclusive Luxury Card Travel Benefits
  • $200 Annual Airline Credit Toward Qualifying Purchases
  • $100 Global Entry Application Fee Credit
  • Luxury Gifts
  • Members-Only LUXURY MAGAZINE
  • Annual Fee: $995 ($295 for each Authorized User)
  • 16.74% Variable APR on Purchases and Transfers
  • 0% Introductory APR on balance transfers made in the first 45 days after account opening

Our Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

This card offers good benefits, like airport lounge access and a $200 airline credit, but there are cards with similar benefits that cost less than half as much per year.

Some people may want to show off with a metal card that’s plated in real 24k gold on it. As far as gold credit cards go, we’ve never seen another card design in the U.S. that uses actual gold.

The Gold Card only earns the equivalent of 2% cash back on all purchases, which you can get on cards with no annual fee. There’s no introductory bonus on this card, unlike many cards with annual fees and some without. Overall, this isn’t a very valuable card offer.

Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy

  • Use the full $200 airline credit every year to offset part of the annual fee.
  • Use this card for airport lounge access.
  • If you don’t already have Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™ and plan to apply, pay the application fee with this card to help offset the annual fee.
  • Make the most of the VIP Travel Benefits while traveling to any participating hotels to help offset the annual fee.
  • For rewards, only use this card when you won’t earn 2% cash back value or more with another card.
  • 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, because they have similar benefits.

The Rewards

This card earns the equivalent of 2% cash back on all purchases when you redeem for a statement credit, to a bank account, or for airfare booked through Luxury Card.

Most travel-focused cards earn a sign-up bonus for spending a certain amount within the first few months of account opening, but this card doesn’t.

Earning

All purchases earn 1 point per dollar spent. There are no bonus categories that earn more points with this card.

Redeeming

There are two possible values you’ll get when you redeem points:

  • $0.02 per point when you redeem as a statement credit, direct deposit to a bank account, or for airfare booked through myluxurycard.com
  • $0.01 per point when you redeem for hotels, car rentals, gift cards, or merchandise

As long as the account is open and good standing, points don’t expire. Unlike Amex Membership Rewards points or Chase Ultimate Rewards points, these points can’t be transferred to airline or hotel loyalty programs. With those types of points, you can often get more rewards value when you transfer points to travel partners.

A maximum of 2% cash back is very low for such an expensive card. For example, the Citi Double Cash (Review), which has no annual fee, earns 2% cash back on all purchases.

Reward redemptions start at $1 of redemption value, so you could cash in as few as 50 points at a time for $1 of airfare, statement credit, or direct deposit. Or, as few as 100 points for gift cards, merchandise, hotels, and car rentals.

How to Offset the Annual Fee

If you ignore the value of the additional benefits of this card, you’d need to spend at least $49,750 per year on this card to earn enough rewards to offset the $995 annual fee.

If you were to use the full $200 travel credit, there’s only $795 of the annual fee left to offset. Let’s say you use airport lounges a lot, and value that at $100, which leaves $695. Now, consider the $100 credit for Global Entry. Since that’s available every 5 years, it averages out to $20 per year in value, leaving $675 to make up for in rewards. You’d still need to spend $33,750 in a year on this card just to make up for the remaining cost of the annual fee. This is a pretty bad value compared to most other high-end travel cards.

The Benefits

$200 Annual Airline Credit

The Gold Card includes a $200 annual airline travel credit. This means you can charge up to $200 of airfare, baggage fees, or in-flight purchases and they’ll get credited back to your account — you won’t ever have to pay for those purchases. Barclaycard uses the merchant category code of transactions to decide whether they should be covered by this credit.

You don’t have to use the whole thing at once, but if you’re paying the high annual fee for this card it makes sense to use up the entire credit every year.

Many travel card with an annual fee above $300 have a similar type of travel credit, although the types of purchases may be more or less restricted. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve (Review), which has a $450 annual fee, comes with a $300 annual travel credit. That $300 credit is more flexible, too, since it applies to things like car rentals, hotels, and trains instead of just airlines.

Global Entry (or TSA Pre✓™) Credit

U.S. Customs and Border Protection offers Global Entry, which is a program that provides expedited entry to the United States. There’s a $100 application fee to apply for Global Entry, and if you charge that fee to the Gold Card it will be reimbursed automatically.

Global Entry includes TSA Pre✓™, or you can choose to just apply for TSA Pre✓™ without Global Entry and receive a statement credit for that $75 application fee instead.

For people who frequently travel outside the U.S., Global Entry could save a lot of time. Since enrollment in the program lasts 5 years, this credit is only available again 5 years after you use it. So, when considering the value of this benefit, it’s really only worth $20 per year ($100 application fee ÷ 5 years).

Airport Lounge Access

Most high-end travel cards with an annual fee above $300 come with some kind of airport lounge access. These airport lounge benefits often include Priority Pass™ Select, which is the program you get access to with the Gold Card.

Some cards offer access to additional lounges, beyond those that are included with Priority Pass™ Select. For example, the Platinum Card from American Express includes access to Amex’s own brand of Centurion lounges in addition to Priority Pass™ Select lounges. If lounge access is important to you, consider the options that other cards provide and check where the lounges are in airports where you travel frequently, since they could be in different terminals than the ones where you usually travel.

If you travel frequently, especially internationally, airport lounge access can be a valuable benefit. Upon Gold Card approval, you’ll automatically receive a separate Priority Pass™ Select membership card that you’ll need to get into lounges. The number of guests allowed varies depending on the lounge. If you’re traveling with other people who aren’t members you may want to call in advance.

Concierge

The Gold Card includes Luxury Card Concierge, a 24/7 concierge service. This may be useful to you for finding restaurants in a new city or other small tasks, or you might find it easier to just use Google and do it yourself. If you’re interested in learning more about credit card concierges and what people request from them check out this Reddit AMA with a former American Express concierge.

Other Luxury Benefits

The Gold Card has some other benefits that are a bit ambiguous and hard to value, so they’re all lumped together here.

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.”

There aren’t many specifics listed on the website for what you might get, except for some golf perks that include “Priceless tips and instructions from golf professionals” and “access the Tournament Players Club (TPC) network of private club courses.” If you have this card and can provide an example of an experience you’ve had thanks to the Priceless program, please let us know in the comments.

VIP Hotel & Travel Benefits

Every year, Luxury Card sends a physical book to cardholders that covers a wide variety of specific benefits at hotels that come with this card. You can find a link to a digital version here. If you’re staying at any of the high-end resorts featured in the book you’ll have the opportunity to get some good perks, but if not this isn’t a very valuable benefit.

Luxury Gifts

As far as we can tell, this means they’ll randomly send you gifts in the mail. The official card website says the gift program “has no predetermined schedule or frequency.” So, if you get this card you might occasionally get some surprise packages.

Luxury Magazine

The Luxury Card website says this magazine is “exclusive to Luxury Card members,” yet they link to luxurymagazine.com, which appears to be accessible to anyone. They probably mean the print edition is only available to cardholders, but either way this seems like a weak benefit.

The Costs & Fees

Annual Fee Intro APR for Balance Transfers Regular Purchase APR Regular Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
$995 0% for 15 months 16.74% Variable 16.74% Variable 26.99% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
3% ($10 min) 5% ($10 min) 0%
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
N/A Up to $37 Up to $37

The annual fee stands out most here. It’s hard to justify at a whopping $995. Authorized users cost an additional $295.

This card doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee, which is expected for a high-end travel card.

Interest rates are relatively low, although that shouldn’t matter, because we recommend you avoid interest completely by paying the full statement balance every month. The intro APR on balance transfers is OK, but it’s not something people considering this card would likely need. It would probably be a better idea to put the $995 toward paying off credit card balances than opening this expensive card and transferring a balance to it!

How to Apply for the Mastercard® Gold Card™

This card is issued by Barclaycard. If you apply they will usually pull information from your TransUnion credit report. The card is intended for people with excellent credit, so if your credit is not great you may not be approved.

Mastercard® Gold Card™
Apply Now

Mastercard® Gold Card™

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $995
  • Interest Rate: 16.74% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 24K-Gold Plated – Patented Card Design
  • Luxury Card Rewards Program
  • 2% Value for Airfare Redemptions
  • 2% Value for Cash Back Redemptions
  • 24/7 Luxury Card ConciergeTM
  • Exclusive Luxury Card Travel Benefits
  • $200 Annual Airline Credit Toward Qualifying Purchases
  • $100 Global Entry Application Fee Credit
  • Luxury Gifts
  • Members-Only LUXURY MAGAZINE
  • Annual Fee: $995 ($295 for each Authorized User)
  • 16.74% Variable APR on Purchases and Transfers
  • 0% Introductory APR on balance transfers made in the first 45 days after account opening

Alternatives to the Mastercard® Gold Card™

There are a few other cards with lower annual fees and benefits that you might want to check out if you’re considering the Mastercard® Gold Card™:

The Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card (Review) is the card that established the idea of a high-priced travel card with great benefits. It’s also a charge card, so it must be paid in full each month, unlike the Gold Card, which is a credit card.

Annual Fee

The Platinum Card’s annual fee is a little more than half the Gold Card’s fee, at $550 compared to $995, but the benefits are arguably better.

Airline Credit

With the Platinum Card, you’ll get a $200 airline credit, but it only applies to incidentals, like baggage fees and in-flight purchases. It’s restricted to one airline per year that you get to choose. The Gold Card, on the other hand, applies the credit to airfare, too, and works for any airline.

Uber & Hotel Credits

Unlike the Gold Card, the Platinum Card also comes with $200 in Uber credits for U.S. rides each year ($15 each month, and $35 in December). And, there’s a $75 hotel credit available.

More Lounge Access & WiFi

The Amex Platinum offers the same Priority Pass lounge access that comes with the Gold Card, plus more. It includes access to Centurion Lounges, American Express’ brand of high end airport lounges. It also includes access to Delta Sky Clubs, and Airspace Lounges. Another nice travel benefit you’ll find on the Platinum Card, but not the Gold Card, is unlimited Boingo WiFi hotspot access.

Rewards

When it comes to rewards potential, the Platinum Card also has the Gold Card beat. Depending on the categories where you spend most, the Platinum Card can earn the equivalent of 1–5% cash back. With point transfers we’ve found it’s possible to earn up to the equivalent of around 7% on your spending. That certainly beats the 2% maximum cash back potential you’ll get with the Gold Card.

Introductory Bonus

The Platinum Card’s introductory bonuses are generally very valuable, especially when you consider the Mastercard® Gold Card™ has no signup bonus. At the time of writing, the Platinum Card offered 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 3 months. That’s $600 if you redeem the points in a way that gets 1 cent per point, but it’s possible to get even more value than that when you transfer them to an airline partner, for example.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Annual Fee & Travel Credit

The Chase Sapphire Reserve (Review) has a much lower annual fee of $450. That’s less than half of what you’ll pay for the Gold Card, but its annual travel credit is $300, which is $100 more than the Gold Card. The Sapphire Reserve has a more flexible travel credit, too, which will cover airfare like the Gold Card’s, but also other travel expenses like hotels, trains, and rental cars.

Lounge Access

Like the Gold Card, the Sapphire Reserve include Priority Pass™ Select airport lounge access.

Rewards

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is most rewarding when you spend on travel and restaurants, earning 3 points per dollar on those categories and 1 point per dollar on everything else. If you redeem points for statement credits, you’ll get 1¢ per point, which is the equivalent of 1–3% cash back, depending on the categories where you spend. However, if you redeem points to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, you’ll get 50% more value per point, so that’s like 1.5–4.5% cash back instead. This means it’s not hard to earn more in rewards value with the Chase Sapphire Reserve than you could with the Mastercard® Gold Card™.

Introductory Bonus

The Chase Sapphire Reserve also has a big signup bonus: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. Chase values that at $750 in travel when you redeem the points through their Ultimate Rewards portal, which would offset the annual fee for almost two years, even if you ignore the value of the other benefits.

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