MasterCard Gold Card Review
The Mastercard Gold Card is a luxury credit card boasting a $995 annual fee and a series of premium benefits to enhance your travel experience.
The card’s defining factor isn’t its rewards or benefits, but the fact that it’s plated with 24-karat gold. The card ships in a block custom box and is seated in a cherry wood tray. It ships with a leather utility pad.
The Mastercard Gold Card is a stunning card but its true value lies in its rewards and benefits. Are they worth the $995 yearly fee?
We’ll answer that question through an in-depth analysis of the card’s rewards, its extra travel benefits, its rates and fees and how it compares to other luxury cards.
Our final section will give you our thoughts about the card’s pros and cons, and if it’s truly worth the annual fee.
Pros: Gold-plated, double bonus for redeeming points for airfare, free Priority Pass Select membership.
Cons: Extremely high annual fee, lack of transfer partners, no sign-up bonus.
Estimated Yearly Travel Rewards: $700
|Sign-Up Bonus||Annual Fee||Regular APR|
|Rewards Rate: 2x boost for airfare and cash redemptions|
A rewards credit card uses your spending to generate points or miles that you can redeem for everything from cash and gift cards to hotel rooms, flights and car rentals.
An important metric for luxury cards, in particular, is how many points you can earn for travel. Every major luxury card focuses on travel via bonuses for travel spending or redemptions.
The Mastercard Gold Card is limited in this area. You earn one point for every dollar you spend. One point is worth one cent.
Assuming you spend $35,000 a year on the card, you’ll earn 35,000 points. You can redeem those points for cash or airfare purchases; Mastercard will double your points’ value when you do.
So, 35,000 points are actually worth $700 instead of the $350 they’d normally be worth. The equivalent of this points’ value is a card that gives you double points on all purchases, a key fact we’ll discuss in our comparison section.
The Mastercard Gold Card has not transfer partners, which means you can’t send the points you earn to airline frequent flyer or hotel loyalty programs. This is another limiting factor we’ll discuss in a few minutes.
Premium cards carry with them, in most cases, important luxury-focused benefits that enhance your travel experience.
The Mastercard Gold Card’s three main travel benefits are a $200 yearly airline credit, free membership in the Priority Pass Select program and reimbursement for an application to the Global Entry program.
The card’s airline credit applies to airfare purchases, baggage fees, and airport lounge fees. Within two weeks of the purchase, a credit equivalent to the purchase will show up on your credit card statement.
The next benefit is a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership. This perk gives you free entrance into any Priority Pass airport lounge around the world. At the time of publishing, there were more than 1,200 such lounges.
A couple of things to remember about this program are:
- You get unlimited free entrances
- Guests traveling with you get unlimited free entrances, too
- You need your Priority Pass card to get into the lounges
- Your card will take seven to 14 days to arrive
The final main benefit is a $100 reimbursement for the application fee the Global Entry program requires. This program gives you access to an exclusive airport security line through which you get an expedited security check.
Once Mastercard sees the application fee on your card, they’ll send a $100 credit to your account. It will take two to three weeks for the credit to arrive.
Finally, your Mastercard Gold Card account has to be open for at least seven days in order to get the credit. If your application fee appears on your statement within the first seven days the account is open, you won’t get the credit.
Aside from these main benefits, you’ll also get a series of insurance-style protections that can be helpful in certain situations:
- Baggage delay insurance
- Price protection
- Purchase assurance
- Trip delay insurance
- Extended warranties
- Rental car insurance
Of note here is the baggage delay and trip delay insurance. These two benefits can be a huge benefit to you in the event that the airline loses your baggage or weather and other factors delay your flight.
This card’s fine print provides a few details about what these programs cover. Your baggage delay insurance provides up to $100 a day for three days. However, you have to meet certain criteria.
First, they reimburse you only for purchases you made as a result of not having your luggage. Second, the benefit doesn’t cover you if your destination was your place of residence. Third, they won’t reimburse you for certain items, including:
- Contact lenses
- Hearing aids
- Artificial teeth
- Event tickets
- Important papers
Finally, the flight has to be purchased with your Mastercard Gold Card.
The trip delay insurance you get covers you up to $300 per trip if your flights are delayed more than six hours. You’ll need to talk with the airline first to see if they provide any compensation, then speak with Mastercard.
Mastercard provides the details of the other coverages we listed via a benefits guide they send you with your Mastercard Gold Card.
In our mind, this card’s rewards must justify the card’s high annual fee. Not only that, those rewards should justify any additional interest payments you make.
To understand exactly what you can expect from yearly fees and interest payments, we’ve created a list of the Mastercard Gold Card’s rates and fees, as well a list of projected interest payments you’ make according to the card’s APR:
- Interest rate for purchases and balance transfers: 17.24%
- Interest rate for cash advances: 27.49%
- 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: $995
- Authorized user fee: $295
We’re going to address the card’s APR in a few seconds. For now, we want to point out the annual fee and the authorized user fee. An “authorized user” is someone you designate to receive a card with your number and their name on it.
That person can use the card to make purchases and any rewards they earn go to your rewards account.
If you add an authorized user to your account, then your total yearly fees will be $1,290. You’ll pay even more than that per year if you tend to carry a balance. The following bullet points show you how much interest you’ll pay in a year based on the card’s 17.24% APR and five different average daily balances:
- $1,000 daily balance: $172.40 interest paid in a year
- $2,000 daily balance: $344.80 interest paid in a year
- $3,000 daily balance: $517.20 interest paid in a year
- $4,000 daily balance: $689.60 interest paid in a year
- $5,000 daily balance: $862.00 interest paid in a year
Take a moment to think about what your balances are on your other cards. Unless you’ve made specific changes to your spending habits, started a budget or a received a raise, you can expect to build a balance on this card, too.
If, for example, you carry a balance of $2,000 every day for a year, then the total cost of ownership (annual fee, authorized user fee, interest payments) is more than $1,500. Push that daily balance to $5,000 a year and you’ll pay more than $2,100 to own the card.
Based on our research of this card’s rewards, we think it’s not worth it to own this card if you are going to carry a balance.
The final analysis we’ve done is a comparison between the Mastercard Gold Card, two other Mastercard luxury cards and the top two luxury credit cards according to our 2019 rankings:
|Mastercard Gold Card||Mastercard Black Card||Mastercard Titanium Card||Citi Prestige Card||Platinum Card from American Express|
|Sign-up bonus||None||None||None||50,000 points||60,000 points|
|Rewards rates||1x on all purchases||1x on all purchases||1x on all purchases||5x/5x/3x/3x/1x||5x/5x/1x|
|Yearly points on $35K annual spending||70,000 for cash or airfare||70,000 for airfare, 52,500 for cash||70,000 points for airfare, 35,000 for cash||60,136 points||47,000 points|
|TSA/ Global Entry reimbursement||$100||$100||None||$100||$100|
|Airline/ travel credit||$200||$100||None||$250||$200|
|Travel partners||None||None||None||15 (14 int’l airlines, 1 domestic)||21 (15 int’l airlines, 3 domestic airlines, 3 hotels)|
|Lounge access||Priority Pass Select||Priority Pass Select||None||Priority Pass Select||AmEx Centurion, Delta SkyClub, Priority Pass Select, three others|
|APR||17.24%||17.24%||17.24%||17.99% to 25.99%||N/A|
|Annual fee/ Authorized user fee||$995/$295||$495/$195||$195/$95||$495/$75||$550/NA|
What immediately strikes us here is that the Mastercard Gold Card’s yearly rewards and benefits are not nearly as good as the Citi Prestige Card and the Platinum Card from American Express despite the card’s annual fee being at least $400 more.
For example, the Mastercard Gold Card offers no sign-up bonus and it doesn’t offer any category-based spending bonuses.
The Citi Prestige Card does, which is why you can earn more than 110,000 points the first year. So, while the Mastercard Gold Card may double the value of your points to $700, its lack of a sign-up bonus hurts it.
After three years, the Citi Prestige Card gives you $2,300 in rewards the first year, sign-up bonus included. The Mastercard Gold, on the other hand, will give you $2,100 in rewards over that time.
Furthermore, over three years, your annual fee will cost you $2,985, whereas the Citi Prestige will cost you $1,485.
Beyond yearly rewards and sign-up bonuses, the Mastercard Gold Card still struggles. Both the Citi Prestige Card and the Platinum Card from American Express offer the same or better credits and airport lounges.
We’d also go as far as to say the Mastercard Black Card may be a better value, too.
This leaves us to conclude that the Mastercard Gold Card is overpriced based on what other luxury cards provide for annual fees that are between $445 and $555 cheaper per year.
Based on all the information we’ve gathered in our analysis of this card, we do not believe it is worth the $995 annual fee. The card’s collection of yearly credits and rewards amounts to around $1,000, which barely exceeds its annual fee.
Because of this, we don’t think this card is a good fit for those who want a luxury card that offers the best rewards and benefits.
In fact, because the card performs so poorly compared to other luxury cards, we’d say its best feature is that it’s gold-plated.
If you’re looking for a good luxury card, we recommend the American Express and Citi cards we focused on in the comparison section.
The Platinum Card from American Express provides the best rewards flexibility because you can send your points to multiple airlines and hotel chains.
Also, the American Express card gives you free access to AmEx’s ultra-luxurious Centurion lounges, which are widely regarded as the best airline lounges in the world.
If you want to learn more about your options, check out our rankings of the best luxury credit cards. You’ll get a granular assessment of the value of six premium credit cards, two of which are hotel cards.