What Is the MasterCard Gold Card?
Few credit cards offer the luxury of the Mastercard Gold Card, a premium credit card made from 24k gold.
Gilded or not, every credit card should be judged by more than the status it represents. What benefits do you get aside from the wow factor of a real gold credit card? Does the card’s APR make it worth less than its weight in gold?
Also, what are people saying about this card? Does it actually live up to the hype?
While it can be hard to turn down a credit card that carries as much social esteem as the Mastercard Gold Card, you should take a few moments to think about whether the benefits of this card outweigh the downsides to ownership.
This review will cover the important areas you should know about:
- The Gold Card’s benefits
- The Gold Card’s fees and rates
- Expert and consumer opinions
We’ll finish up with some general thoughts about the card, as well as offer up some alternatives that might be a better fit for your lifestyle.
The Short-Term Benefits of the Mastercard Gold Card
The Mastercard Gold has one main short-term benefit – 0% interest on all balance transfers for 15 months, as long as the transfer is made within the first 45 days.
The 45-day deadline starts the day you’re approved for your card, not the day you receive it.
Although we don’t consider it a true short-term benefit, we do want to point out that Mastercard will next-day FedEx your card if you’re account is opened before 3 p.m. If the account goes live after 3 p.m., it will come in two days.
As luxury cards go, the Mastercard Gold’s intro offer on balance transfers is at the top of the list. According to our 2017 ranking of luxury cards, only the Mastercard Black Card offers this perk, which makes sense, because the Black is part of the same Mastercard luxury family as the Gold.
The Long-Term Benefits of the Mastercard Gold Card
When you’re dealing with luxury cards, you’re entering a credit landscape where few average consumers go.
The credit scores and income needed to get these cards are unknown, but we, along with most experts, believe that it takes higher-than-average incomes and excellent credit scores (740+) to obtain.
The Mastercard Gold Is a Status Symbol
Because these cards aren’t available to just anybody, they carry a certain amount of status and swagger with them.
Even looking at the names of these cards reveals their elevated reputation: the Citi Prestige, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum.
The Mastercard Gold Card is the kind of card that catches the eye of curious cashiers or snooping shoppers – it can literally be a show-stopper.
The front of the card is plated in 24k gold and the back of the card features Mastercard’s patented carbon-fiber design. Because the card is made from metal, it has a nice weight to it and gives off a metallic clang when you drop it on a table (a favorite quality-control test of credit-card reviewers).
The Mastercard Gold Has Great Rewards Rates
Every time you make a purchase with your Gold Card, you’ll get one reward point for every dollar you spend.
Those points can be used on Mastercard’s website for four types of purchases: travel, merchandise, gift cards and experiences.
The first three are self-explanatory and the final category is a collection of, according to Mastercard, “guided fishing trips, vacation packages or tickets to a major event.”
You also have the option of converting your points to cash that’s direct deposited into a checking account or added as a credit to your monthly statement.
Double Rewards Rate on Cash/Travel Separates It From the Pack
What makes this rewards program different than all credit cards is that you get double value out of your points when you convert them to cash or book airline tickets.
On the cash side, no mainstream cards have a better cash-back rate, with the Citi Double Cash tying the Gold Card at 2%. The USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards card has a 2.5% cash-back rate, but the card is only available to members of the military and their families.
On the travel side, only one card offers double rewards: the Capital One Venture. The Chase Sapphire Reserve gives a 50% bonus on points used in the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel booking portal, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a 25% bonus.
Here’s the practical way the double bonus plays out. Say you have 50,000 rewards points and you want to buy a plane ticket that’s worth $1,000.
Normally, points are worth $0.01, so the cash value of 50,000 points would be $500. This is what you’d get with the American Express Platinum card.
However, since you get double value out of your Mastercard Gold Card points, those 50,000 points are worth $1,000.
The Mastercard Gold Has a Luxury Card Concierge
Another service that Gold Card members receive is the Luxury Card program’s concierge, a service that takes care of all types of requests related to your travel.
The Luxury Card Concierge website lists the following 24/7:
- City guides
- Specialty services
- Ticketing and events
- Customized and specialty requests
On a basic level, concierge services book hotel rooms, tickets and entertainment for you, as well as other services you may want during your trip.
A Humorous Example of What a Concierge Will Do: Wardrobe Change
While we couldn’t track down personal stories of Luxury Card members, we did manage to find a Reddit AMA hosted by someone who claims to have worked with American Express’ Platinum and Black concierge services.
When asked about an off-the-wall request, the host told a story of a man who was at a conference and found himself in an embarrassing situation. A meal he ate gave him intestinal problems, which resulted in him soiling his pants.
His clothes were ruined and he was too embarrassed to return to the conference, so he called the Amex concierge from the bathroom and explained the situation.
The concierge then called the hotel and had someone run across the street and buy the gentleman a new pair of underpants, socks, and pants.
The concierge also had hotel staff prepare a bath for the man and place a bottle of Pepto-Bismol on his bathroom counter. Both the concierge rep and the customer laughed about the situation.
Another Rare Situation: Concept Cars
In the same thread, the concierge also mentioned one customer who generated a list of concept cars he wanted to buy and asked the concierge to find out who was making each car and ask if they could make a car specifically for the customer.
The concierge obliged and was able to line up custom builds for two of the cars on the list.
The Mastercard Gold Has Travel Perks
Mastercard will reimburse you $100 for the cost of an application to the Global Entry program. This federal membership gives you access to Precheck, an expedited security line at U.S. airports. One Global Entry application is good for five years.
As a Gold Card customer, you’ll also get a $200 yearly reimbursement for travel purchases you make with your card.
According to their website, you can use this travel credit for the following types of purchases and more:
- Airline tickets
- Baggage fees
This credit is given every calendar year, so you could, in theory, get $400 in credits your first year by booking more than $200 in travel this year and $200 next year before your cardmember anniversary.
You’ll also get complimentary access to the Priority Pass network of VIP airport lounges, which includes more than 1,000 lounges in more than 500 airports around the world.
The Mastercard Gold Has Shopping/Fraud Protection
As part of the Barclays credit card family, Gold Card customers get a series of protections pertaining to lost/delayed luggage, theft/damage to new purchases and several other benefits.
The most familiar perk you get is zero liability, which means you won’t be held responsible for fraudulent charges made to your account.
All of these benefits have specific limits and exclusions, so make sure you read through the Guide to Benefits you receive with your card.
The Mastercard Gold Card’s Rates and Fees
Now that you’ve got a good grasp of the benefits of this card, we’re going to review the rates and fees you can expect:
- APR: 15.74% on purchases and balance transfers
- Annual fee: $995, $295 for additional users
- Foreign transaction fee: None
- Balance transfer fee: 3% or $5, whichever is greater
- Fee for late payment: Up to $37
Yes, you read that right – the Mastercard Gold has an annual fee of $995, which is higher than any card we’ve ever reviewed.
While that may seem expensive, think about it from the cardholder’s perspective. The person getting this card has significant income, which means $995 a year may not be that big of a deal to them.
And, because they make a lot of money, they most likely spend a lot of money. At a clip of $50,000 per year, they can redeem their points (50K) for $1,000 in cash, which pays for the annual fee.
Once you throw in the travel credit and the Global Entry reimbursement, then this card more than pays for itself on a yearly basis.
The card’s APR is pretty solid, too, matching the Citi Prestige and beating the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Pro tip: Barclaycard will waive the annual fee for active duty service members.
What Other People Are Saying About the Mastercard Gold Card
Consumer reviews about this card are thin – this is common with high-annual-fee cards like this one. However, there are also very few expert reviews on the card that actually go in-depth about what the card offers.
The most thorough review aside from ours is from the Points Guy, who says the card’s fee is high but that the card pays for itself in rewards.
A big caveat to this review, though, is that the author was a member of the military who was able to get the annual fee waived, which means the card was worth, based on $50,000 in yearly spending, about $1,200 per year (cash rewards plus travel reimbursement).
We agree that this card is a steal for someone who doesn’t have to pay an annual fee, but even with the annual fee we think it’s a solid card.
The assumption is that big spenders with excellent credit get this card, which means they have the spending power and the self-discipline to earn maximum rewards.
A conservative estimate puts the value of this card at $305 (points value minus an annual fee) per year, but that value goes up if you travel often and you take advantage of your Priority Pass membership.
Now, some will argue that the Chase Sapphire Reserve card or the AmEx Platinum is the better card, mainly because both cards have annual fees at right around $500. Also, Chase and AmEx let you use your points as miles that you can transfer 1:1 to many popular airlines.
We think there’s something to be said about points and miles values, and we’ll address that in our conclusion.
Our Final Thoughts About the Mastercard Gold Card
The Mastercard Gold Card provides cardholders with the status they’re seeking – it’s gold plated, need we say more?
Aside from that, the card offers impressive redemption values on points and miles, values that lead the cash-back and travel genres.
The annual fee is high but not a big issue considering cardholders can earn that money back and more in cash or travel redemptions, not to mention the $100 Global Entry reimbursement and the $200 travel credit.
Entry into the Priority Pass network of airport lounges is a great perk, but it’s also available to AmEx Platinum, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Prestige and Mastercard Black Card customers.