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Review

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

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Brendan Harkness By Brendan Harkness Jan 08, 2019 | Updated Dec 27, 2019
Our rating
Min. credit level: Excellent
Annual Fee: $995
Regular APR: 16.49% Variable

Mastercard® Gold Card™

Our rating
Excellent Min. credit level
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
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
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.

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 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 cards 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, 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.

Concierge

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 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.

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 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 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!

The Bottom Line

Whether the Mastercard® Gold Card™ is right for you depends largely on how much you think you’ll be able to use its benefits. The wide range of credits provided by Luxury Card’s VIP Hotel & Travel Benefits Program could offer seemingly endless value to the luxury-minded, travel-oriented cardholder.

But even with its relatively appealing benefits, the Mastercard Gold Card is far from the best premium travel card on the market. Its annual fee leans toward exorbitant, and its rewards program is average at best.

So, if you’re seriously in the market for a function-first premium credit card, you may want to consider the alternatives (which you’ll find below). You’ll generally pay a much lower annual fee, and you’ll probably end up with better rewards and comparable or better benefits, including the Global Entry credit, airline fee credit, and airport lounge access flaunted by the Gold Card, plus more.

If it’s a heavy, shiny, gold-plated credit card you’re after, however, the Mastercard Gold Card could be the right choice. Because it’s pretty much the only choice.

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; and if your scores are lower, you still have a chance of approval.

Qualifications and Requirements

  • Must be at least 18 years of age and a resident of a U.S. state or territory
  • General information: Name, permanent address, time at permanent address, residence status
  • Employment and financial information: Source of income, occupation, total annual gross income
  • Contact information: Primary phone, email address
  • Security information: Date of birth, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name
Mastercard® Gold Card™

Mastercard® Gold Card™

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$995
Regular APR16.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

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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
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) established the idea of a high-priced travel card with great benefits (Rates & Fees).

The Platinum is considerably more rewarding than the Gold Card. It has multiple categories in which you’ll earn points, whereas the Gold only offers 1X point on all purchases. You’ll have a chance to earn a sizable intro bonus with the Platinum, unlike the Gold Card. The benefits package for the Platinum is also more enticing than what the Gold Card offers, with the best airport lounge access available on a credit card, elite hotel statuses, and a variety of annual credits.

You’ll have to decide if you want a more rewarding, less expensive experience with the Platinum , or if you want to make a splash with an actual gold-plated credit card. But the Platinum card is impressive in its own right — and it’s not quite so gaudy.

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 the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $600–$1,200 (1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 12%–24%
  • 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 from a list of specific hotels and get a room upgrade when available, daily breakfast for two, complimentary WiFi, up to $100 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
  • Charge card: You must pay your balance in full each month.

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Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Our rating
Min. credit level Excellent
Details
Annual Fee $550
Regular APR 18.49% - 25.49% Variable

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review) boasts a much lower annual fee than the Gold Card, along with a higher travel credit.

You’ll have the opportunity to earn more with the Sapphire Reserve than with the Gold, especially given the point redemption and transfer opportunities. The travel credit is top-notch. The other benefits are largely the same, each card providing a pretty strong set.

So if you’re looking to save some money annually while getting better rewards and benefits, this might be a solid choice for you.

Spending Rewards
  • 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on:
    • Travel (after the full travel credit is used)
    • Dining
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on everything else
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $500–$1,000 (1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 12.5%–25%

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: 18.49% - 25.49% Variable
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $550
Citi Prestige® Card

Citi Prestige® Card

Our rating
Min. credit level Good
Details
Annual Fee $495
Regular APR 17.99%–25.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The Citi Prestige® Card (Review) is another top-tier travel card with great benefits and a lower annual fee than the Gold Card.

The Prestige is more rewarding than the Gold Card in many respects. You’ll earn a solid amount of points in many categories, including dining and when you book at hotels, rather than a flat 1X point on every purchase.

You’ll get a higher travel credit and equally strong perks, for nearly half the price. There’s also a nice signup bonus, unlike the Gold Card.

It’d be tough to earn more points per dollar in the Prestige’s categories with another card; if they look good, and if hotels are your thing, this is definitely a card to consider.

Spending Rewards
  • 5X ThankYou points per dollar on:
    • Air travel
    • Restaurants
  • 3X ThankYou points per dollar on:
    • Hotels
    • Cruise lines
  • 1X ThankYou point per dollar for every other purchase
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 50,000 bonus ThankYou points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $500–$1,000 (1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 12.5%–25%
  • $250 annual travel credit: Get an automatic $250 credit to use for practically any travel expense.
  • Complimentary 4th night stay: Get one free night with no blackout dates if you book four nights in a row through ThankYou.com, and pay using your card, ThankYou points, or a combination of both. Capped at two uses per year.
  • Priority Pass Select membership: You and your authorized users can access Priority Pass lounges at no charge (with up to two guests for free).
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit: Get a statement credit for the application fee for either Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every five years.
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 17.99%–25.99% Variable
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $495

The information related to Citi Prestige® Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Mastercard® Black Card™

Mastercard® Black Card™

Our rating
Min. credit level Excellent
Details
Annual Fee $495
Regular APR 16.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The Mastercard® Black Card™ (Review) is a sleek, stainless steel high-end travel card that’s similar to the Gold card but with a much lower annual fee.

If you’re still looking to make an impact with a metal card, this one could still do the trick (and might be confused with the infamous Amex “Black” Card). The Mastercard Black and Gold both offer a flat 1X point on all purchases, with the chance of earning up to a 2% return on spend, but the Gold has a better cash back redemption rate.

The Gold Card also has some stronger benefits, but that doesn’t count the Black Card out. You’ll still receive an annual flight credit and airport lounge access, just with half the annual fee, and it’d be easy to argue that it’s a better deal all around.

If you’re looking for a powerful card you might not want to go for the gold. The Black Card still carries strong benefits and practically the same reward system, all while costing significantly less.

Spending Rewards
  • 1X point per dollar on all purchases

You’ll get 1.5 cents per point for statement credit redemptions (less than the Gold), and 2 cents per point for airfare (the same as the Gold).

So you’re getting a cash back equivalent of 1.5% for statement credits, and 2% for airfare.

  • $100 annual travel credit: Get a $100 travel credit every year, which can be applied to travel expenses like airfare, baggage fees, and in-flight purchases.
  • Global Entry application fee credit: Receive a $100 Global Entry application fee credit, once every four years.
  • Priority Pass Select membership: Gain access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide at no charge, and bring unlimited guests with you.
  • Luxury Card ConciergeGet access to 24/7 concierge service for help with travel suggestions, restaurant reservations, entertainment tickets, and more
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 16.49% Variable
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $495

Like what you read? Do you use the Mastercard Gold Card? Let us know how you like it in the comments below!

AT A GLANCE

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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The information related to Citi Prestige® Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

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