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

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Brendan Harkness By Brendan Harkness Jan 08, 2019 | Updated Nov 20, 2019
Our rating
Credit range: Excellent
Annual Fee: $995
Regular APR: 16.49% Variable

Mastercard® Gold Card™

Our rating
Excellent Credit range
Apply Now See Alternatives

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

If you want a heavy, metal credit card plated in actual gold, then this may be the card for you. It’s one of the heaviest metal credit cards out there.

This card is on the highest end of the Luxury Card line of rewards 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™

Mastercard® Gold Card™

Our rating
Credit rangeExcellent
Annual Fee$995
Regular APR16.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Our Rating: 3 Out of 5 stars

This card offers some great benefits, like airport lounge access, a $200 airline credit, a 24/7 concierge available via live chat, and thousands of dollars in potential hotel credits. You may very well be able to get more than enough value from this card to offset the annual fee from the benefits.

However, 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.

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, so if you place a ton of value on the benefits and physical design of the card then this may be a card for you to consider.

While it has its perks, and it’s not an overtly terrible card if you’re a huge spender, the Gold Card actually earned a spot on our list of the worst credit cards thanks to its massive annual fee and benefits that are matched or exceeded by cards with lower annual fees.

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

  • Use the full $200 airline fee credit every year to offset part of the annual fee (you can do this by purchasing at least $200 in airfare on the card).
  • Make the most of the VIP Travel Benefits while traveling to any participating hotels to help offset the annual fee by getting hundreds or thousands of dollars in credits and discounts.
  • Use this card for airport lounge access for you an unlimited guests.
  • If you don’t already have Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and plan to apply, pay the application fee with this card 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, with a few ways to redeem rewards for less value.

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.


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


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
  • $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 qualifying airline or hotel loyalty programs. With those types of points, you can often get more rewards value when you transfer points to travel partners.

As far as rewards potential goes, a maximum of 2% cash back equivalent is low, especially for a card with such a high annual fee. For example, the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer (Review), which has no annual fee, earns 2% cash back on all purchases (1% on purchases, and 1% on payments).

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.

Keep in mind the VIP Hotel & Travel Benefits could help you get more value from the card and help offset that remaining $675 faster, since you could stay at 7 different hotels and get $100 in credits each time.

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 eligible 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 PreCheck) 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 PreCheck, or you can choose to just apply for TSA PreCheck 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. Unlike many other cards, this card provides lounge access to unlimited guests. If you’re traveling with other people who aren’t members you may want to call in advance.


The Gold Card includes Luxury Card Concierge, a 24/7 concierge service. Most credit cards with a concierge require you to call a phone number to contact the concierge, which you can do with this card, but the Luxury Card app also lets you chat with a concierge any time through a messaging interface. This makes the barrier to asking quick concierge requests lower, so you can quickly check if they can help you with something without making a phone call.

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.

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.

This benefit is potentially one of the most valuable aspects of this card, since it provides some large credits (over $100 in some cases) and significant discounts at luxury hotels.

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.

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.

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, 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.

Other Benefits

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

  • Lyft Credit: 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 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 Costs & Fees

Annual Fee Intro APR for Balance Transfers Regular Purchase APR Regular Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
$995 0% for 15 months 16.49% Variable 16.49% Variable 26.74% 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 very good to excellent credit — with FICO, that’s typically a score of 740 and up — so if your credit is not great you may not be approved. Just remember that your credit is more than just your credit scores, so even if your credit scores could be considered excellent, you still risk being denied.

Mastercard® Gold Card™

Mastercard® Gold Card™

Our rating
Credit rangeExcellent
Annual Fee$995
Regular APR16.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

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® from American Express

Our rating
Credit rangeGood
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$550
Regular APRN/A
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

The Platinum Card® from American Express (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 at $550 (Rates & Fees), 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 incidental fees, 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 $100 hotel credit available.

More Lounge Access

The Amex Platinum offers Priority Pass lounge access, like the Gold Card. But in the Platinum’s case, Priority Pass membership excludes non-lounge experiences.

The Platinum card also includes access to Centurion Lounges, American Express’ brand of high-end airport lounges, as well as access to Delta Sky Clubs and Airspace Lounges.


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 welcome 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®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Our rating
Credit rangeExcellent
Annual Fee$450
Regular APR18.74% - 25.74% Variable

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.


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.

Was this helpful?

The Mastercard Gold Card is a pricy premium credit card with solid travel benefits and an underwhelming rewards program. The card doesn’t quite measure up to some of its less-expensive competitors, but if you love to travel and desperately want a gold-plated credit card, this is an option.

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