Mastercard Black Card Review: Is It Worth the Annual Fee?

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff
Updated on: Sep 12, 2019

The Mastercard Black Card is a luxury credit card providing significant rewards boosts for airline and cash back redemptions, as well as a yearly airline credit and various travel-related perks for an annual fee of $495.

The card is part of Mastercard’s trio of luxury card’s, with the Titanium ($195 annual fee) being the lowest tier and the Gold Card ($995 annual fee) being the highest tier.

What makes the card unique is that it uses a redemption-based bonus on points, not a purchase-based bonus, which we’ll explain in a few seconds.

As a luxury card, the Black Card has a high annual fee and some pretty opulent benefits. In this review, we’ll examine the card’s rewards and benefits, talk about its rates and fees and then compare it to other luxury credit cards with similar annual fees.

At the end of our review, we’ll give you our research-based conclusions about the card’s pros and cons and who we think it’s good for.

How the Mastercard Black Card’s Rewards Work

Quick Facts
Mastercard Black Card
Pros: Yearly points are worth $700 in airfare purchases through Mastercard’s travel portal for luxury card customers.

Cons: The card has no travel partners, a poor yearly airfare credit and there is no sign-up bonus.

Estimated Yearly Travel Rewards: 70,000 points for airfare, 52,500 points for cash
Sign-Up Bonus Annual Fee Regular APR
None $495 16.99%
Rewards Rate: 2x boost for airfare redemptions, 1.5x boost for cash redemptions

Most rewards cards give you one or multiple rewards rates depending on what you buy with your card. The credit card company automatically calculates the rewards you earn on those purchases, then adds them to a rewards balances you can view when you log into your account.

The Mastercard Black Card is a bit different in that every purchase you make earns one rewards point per dollar. However, you get a 2x boost on them when you book airfare with the points and, if you choose to redeem the points for cash back, you get a 1.5x boost.

What this means is that, without a boost, 10,000 points would be worth $100. However, if you use those points to book a flight, they’re worth $200. If you redeem them for cash, they’re worth $150.

The catch to the 2x bonus is that you have to book your flight through, the travel booking portal designed specifically for Mastercard’s luxury card owners.

Based on our calculations, we believe that the average luxury card user will spend around $35,000 a year, which equals 35,000 rewards points.

If you choose to redeem those for flights through Mastercard’s luxury portal, they’re worth $700. If you choose to redeem them for cash, they’re worth $525.

We’ll talk about how these yearly rewards totals compare to other luxury cards in a few minutes.

For now, we want to point out that any time you make a late payment, you won’t get any points for that billing cycle. This is an important limitation of the card, especially if you often pay late.

Mastercard Black Card Travel Benefits

Aside from the yearly rewards you earn, you also get a variety of travel-related perks that are the hallmark of most luxury travel cards:

  • Reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck programs
  • $100 airline credit
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership
  • Various purchase protections

The Global Entry and TSA PreCheck programs are government-run priority security programs through which you can get expedited security checks at the airport. The application fees are $100 and $85.

If the charge appears on your credit card statement, Mastercard will automatically add a credit equivalent to the application fee.

If you apply for both programs, you’ll get credit for whichever charge appeared first on your statement. It will take between two and three weeks for the credit to appear.

According to the fine print, this credit will reset after every five years.

The $100 airfare credit is another automatic credit that Mastercard will add to your statement up to $100 a year for any of the following airline-related purchases:

  • Tickets
  • Baggage fees
  • Upgrade fees
  • Some in-flight purchases

The fine print says it will take up to two weeks after the purchase for the credit to appear.

Perhaps the most appealing perk among the travel benefits listed above is the complimentary Priority Pass Select membership. This benefit gives you access to more than 1,000 airport lounges around the world.

While definitely a huge bonus for cardholders, Priority Pass Select isn’t unique among luxury cards. The Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Prestige Card, and the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card offer the same membership.

The final travel-related perk is a series of purchase protections that cover everything from extended return periods to extended warranties but, in the context of travel, the two most pertinent ones are baggage delay protection and complimentary rental car insurance.

If your checked bags get delayed while in transit, then you can get a reimbursement for “the cost of replacing essential or personal business items,” the card’s site says.

This is a key because it means you won’t be reimbursed for your luggage, just the essential items inside it.

Mastercard limits the baggage benefit to $100 per day for three days. Also, some of the items that aren’t covered, according to the fine print, include:

  • Contact lenses and glasses
  • Hearing aids
  • Artificial teeth
  • Money and checks
  • Jewelry and watches
  • Electronic equipment including cameras and video recorders.

The car rental insurance is a common perk among credit cards. It allows you to waive the insurance the car rental agency offers and acts as supplemental insurance if your car insurance covers rental car accidents.

It offers primary coverage if your car rental insurance doesn’t cover rental car accidents.

The Mastercard Black Card’s Rates and Fees

The following list includes the Black Card’s rates and fees are included in the list below. We’ll provide an analysis of their impact afterward:

  • Interest rate for purchases and balance transfers: 16.99%
  • Interest rate for cash advances: 27.24%
  • Penalty interest rate: None
  • Balance transfer fee: $5 or 3%, whichever is greater
  • Cash advance fee: $10 or 5%, whichever is greater
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Late/returned payment fee: Up to $37
  • Annual fee: $495
  • Authorized user fee: $195

The main concern you should have when looking at a credit card is the interest rates it offers. In this case, there is one interest rate (“APR”): 16.99%. Most cards offer a range of APR’s from which they calculate your particular interest rate based on your credit scores and credit history.

What’s nice about the Black Card is that you know the APR you’re going to get if Mastercard approves your application.

Now, the majority of people who use credit cards have balances, so the following list shows you how much interest you’d pay over the course of the year with a series of average daily balances:

  • $1,000 daily balance for a year: $169.90
  • $2,000 daily balance for a year: $339.80
  • $3,000 daily balance for a year: $509.70
  • $4,000 daily balance for a year: $679.60
  • $5,000 daily balance for a year: $849.50

Based on our perspective, we think that this card can be quite expensive to own if you carry a balance. For instance, you’ll pay more than $1,000 in fees (annual fee, interest payments) if you carry a balance of $3,000 for a year.

One of the best parts of the card’s interest rates, though, is that, at the time of publishing, the card offered 15 months of 0% interest on balance transfers you make in the first 45 days you have the card.

This could potentially save you hundreds or more than $1,000 a year depending on your interest rate and size of your balance.

Keep in mind, though, that any balances you transfer after the first 45 days will get an APR of 16.99%.

How the Mastercard Black Card Compares to Other Luxury Cards

The chart we’ve created here helps give you context to the value and benefits the Black Card offers. After the chart, we’ll provide our analysis drawn from the comparisons:

Mastercard Black Card Platinum Card from American Express Chase Sapphire Reserve Citi Prestige Card U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card Delta Reserve Credit Card United Club Card
Sign-up bonus None 60,000 points 50,000 points 50,000 points 50,000 points 40K miles/10K Medallion Qualification Miles 50,000 miles
Rewards rates 1x on all purchases 5x/5x/1x 3x/3x/1x 5x/5x/3x/3x/1x 3x/3x/1x 2x/1x 2x/1.5x
Yearly points on $35K annual spending 70,000 for airfare, 52,500 for cash 47,000 points 47,730 points 60,136 points 41,000 points 36,500 miles 53,250 miles
TSA/Global Entry reimbursement $100 $100 $100 None $100 Free Sky Priority expedited security Free Premier Access expedited security
Airline/travel credit $100 $200 $300 $250 $325 Priority boarding, first bag free, 20% savings on in-flight purchases Priority boarding, first and second bag free
Lounge access Priority Pass Select AmEx Centurion, Delta SkyClub, Priority Pass Select, three others Priority Pass Select Priority Pass Select Priority Pass Select Delta Sky Club United Club
APR 16.99% N/A 18.99% to 25.99% 18.99% to 25.99% 17.74% 17.74% to 26.74% 18.49% to 25.49%
Annual fee/ Authorized user fee $495/ $195 $550/ NA $450/ $75 $495/ $75 $400/ $75 $450/ NA $450/ NA

The biggest draw for cards like these is the points/miles and benefits they provide. The Black Card’s yearly point totals are the highest of all the cards in the chart but only when you redeem them for airfare purchases in the Mastercard portal.

The disadvantage the card has compared to the other cards on the list is that you can’t transfer your points to travel partners.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, allows you to transfer the points you earn to 12 different travel partners including JetBlue, United, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, and IHG.

You can transfer the Citi Prestige Card’s points to 15 different airlines, although only one of them is domestic.

The Platinum Card from American Express has travel partners but they do 1:1 points transfer with one major one: Choice Hotels.

The other heavy drawback Mastercard Black Card has in terms of rewards is the lack of a sign-up bonus, which really hurts its value if you plan on owning the card for two years or less.

As for the other travel perks, we think the Mastercard Black Card lags behind the other cards, especially if you’re someone who does a lot of air travel and wants a card that will provide the highest level of luxury for your journeys.

The card’s $100 travel credit is weak compared to the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Aside from the Priority Pass Select membership and the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck, the Black Card doesn’t offer any of the airline-related perks you get with the Delta Reserve Credit Card and United MileagePlus Club: priority boarding, free expedited security check-in and access to free bags.

The card’s interest rate is the best of the bunch, as it’s 0.75% better than the next closest cards.

The annual fee is higher than half of the cards and the $195 you pay to have an authorized user (different name on card, same card number) is more than twice as much as the next card.

When taken in the context of these other cards, our opinion is that the advantage the Mastercard Black Card gives you in yearly rewards doesn’t outweigh its poor yearly travel credit and its lack of a sign-up bonus.

The Bottom Line: Pros and Cons and Who This Card Is Good For

We believe that our research indicates the Black Card’s best features are its yearly rewards total and its interest rate. The yearly rewards are at their strength when you redeem them for airline purchases through Mastercard’s luxury portal. Also, the Black Card has the best APR.

However, we think that the analysis reveals the Black Card has some glaring weaknesses. First, it has no sign-up bonus while other cards have bonuses of between 40,000 and 60,000 points or miles. Second, travel credit is only $100.

Based on this information, we think that the Mastercard Black Card is a great fit for someone who flies a couple of times per year and wants access to airport lounges while they fly.

The Mastercard Black Card produces enough points each year to get two free flights based on the average amount of a domestic flight ($350) and gives you entrance to Priority Pass lounges.

However, even with the ability to get two flights and access to lounges, we don’t see the card offering much value to even the average traveler.

There are cards like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card that provide more than two free flights per year with the points you can earn. What’s missing, of course, is access to lounges, a reimbursement fee for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck and free bags.

However, if you’re flying Southwest, the bags are already free and even if you decided to pay full price for an airport lounge twice a year and apply for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, you still won’t spend near the amount of the Black Card’s $495 annual fee.

If you’d like a more in-depth exploration of luxury credit cards, take a few minutes to read our rankings of the best luxury rewards cards of 2019. We do a thorough examination of each card and provide rankings for specific situations as well as overall.

Read 6 Mastercard Black Card Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Customer Rating: 3.0
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 2 4 star: 1 3 star: 0 2 star: 1 1 star:  2
Bottom Line: 50% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-6 of 6
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  • Not really worth it

    I currently have the CSR and spend roughly $100K a year. I received this invite letter from Mastercard Black Card with an approval code in the mail. After a business trip, I opened the letter and called, and after spending over an hour on phone calls was approved for $5K. Upon this, I told them to keep their card. Not to be pretentious, but $5K would only hurt my credit as $1500.00 per month is at the 30% threshold of the credit bureau. I was under the perception that this card was for people who spend a lot per month. Sorry Black Card, you won't be getting my business unless your initial limit is higher.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • Executive

    Summary: Paying $495 a year for a good-looking card is an absolute waste of money. The rewards suck, the concierge is a joke, and you get limited airport lounge access. People with real money will know that you have a BS black card.

    Pros: It is good-looking and feeling, and you also get $100 a year back on airfare.

    Cons: You only get 1% rewards (1.5% on specific items), and their concierge is not a concierge. It is more like a travel agency trying to make money on your purchase without the discount. The Lounge access you get is a joke. We have three major airports in our area, of which not a single one is in the program. Even in NYC (I believe there is only one), and you have to be flying Scandinavia Air or something like that.

    Overall: I am embarrassed that I made a poor decision in getting this card.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • Customer service is great.

    • By Rob,
    • MI,
    • Dec 15, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    I've had this card for a couple of years now. The biggest thing I like is when calling customer service. Someone I actually understand answers the phone quickly. They're always helpful in every way. That to me is worth the high annual fee.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

  • Not all in

    • By Bilal,
    • Houston, TX,
    • Sep 11, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have had this card for the last three years, I use it a lot. It's a good card but benefits are not what they say.

    Just last week I tried to claim what they said in the benefits - change of flight fee reimbursement. I was in Thailand, I changed the flight, airline charged me a fee to change it. When I got back to USA I filed the claim, first I got a run around, then got the claim.

    Form needed so many documents from the country I changed the route in. I send them the card statement where the ticket was charged and then where the fee was charged, but they needed documentation signed by the doctors overseas. I told this claim company I can not go back overseas to get that. Anyway, long story short, I will not renew my card. I spend a lot, I have Citi card with same benefits, with same yearly fee. Don't get into their trap.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • MC Black Card

    • By Cox,
    • Chicago ,
    • Aug 11, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    I received my MasterCard Black Card 5 days after I called in. I picked the Black Card because American Express Platinum is not accepted by everyone and it's a charge card, not a credit card. American Express does offer more perks but I don't lose any sleep over it. If any card is going to be accepted it will be MasterCard. That's how you earn rewards. Having a choice between paying in full or monthly is always nice and worth the extra annual fee.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

  • So far so good.

    • By Mike Steagald,
    • Nacogdoches, Texas,
    • May 19, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    Have had the Black Mastercard for about three months. Have satisfied the requirement for the 25,000 bonus points which Barclays posted right away. Customer service has been exemplary. First card I received was damaged and they sent the second FedEx overnight. Have had zero issues with this card.

    The fee may be a little over the top but You know that going in. Great card. No problems what so ever.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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