Mastercard Black Card Review: A Heavy Price

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Touted as a status symbol for affluent cardholders, the Mastercard Black Card, issued by Barclays and marketed by Luxury Card, is designed to make a statement. Weighing in at 22 grams per card, this sleek metal card made from a combination of stainless steel and carbon is engineered to look thicker and feel heavier in your hand than the average credit card. But look beyond its posh exterior and slick marketing and you’ll find underwhelming rewards and relatively few benefits for such a high-end credit card.

Mastercard® Black Card™

overall rating
3.5
Mastercard® Black Card™
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.99% variable
Annual Fee $495
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1 point per dollar on all purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
2.6
for Fees
1.4
for Rewards
3.4
for Credit
0.7

Who Is This Credit Card Best For?

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    Jet Setter
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    Deal Seeker
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    Road Warrior
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    Loves to explore places and experience new things See more cards
    Adventure Seeker

Prosperous cardholders who value luxury and exclusivity may get some satisfaction out of the Mastercard Black Card. If carrying a weighty metal card that looks impressive when you use it appeals to you, then the Black Card may be worth checking out. 

The Black Card’s rewards program is simpler than the rewards programs with other luxury cards. That may appeal to cardholders who don’t want to think too much about their points. 

You’ll need excellent credit to qualify for the Black Card—and be able to afford the three-figure annual fee.

Pros
  • It weighs more than other luxury cards

  • Better-than-average points value

  • Good 0% interest balance transfer offer

Cons
  • Low rewards-earning rate and no sign-up bonus

  • Relatively weak slate of cardholder perks

  • Annual fee difficult to justify

  • Points don’t transfer to travel partners

Pros Explained

  • It weighs more than other luxury cards: Some credit card enthusiasts place a lot of value in high-end cards that weigh more than the average plastic credit card. Luxury Card has capitalized on this trend by producing a carbon-and-stainless steel card that weighs significantly more than its competitors. 
  • Better-than-average points value: Depending on how you redeem them, Black Card points could be worth as much as 1.5 to 2 cents a piece. By contrast, competitors’ points are worth 1 to 1.5 cents each, according to The Balance's estimates.
  • Good 0% interest balance transfer offer: It’s rare to find a premium card with a balance transfer deal. This one gives you 15 billing cycles to pay off transferred balances with no interest. That’s a solid offer and the 3% fee is lower than what many cards charge these days. The card’s standard interest rate is also on the low end.

While the balance transfer offer is a good one, you only have 45 days after account opening to take advantage of it.

Cons Explained

  • Low rewards-earning rate and no sign-up bonus: Unlike its competitors, the Black Card doesn’t offer any bonus points on select purchases, nor does it offer a sign-up bonus. In contrast, most competitors make it relatively easy for big spenders to rack up points quickly. 
  • Relatively weak slate of cardholder perks: The Black Card offers a smattering of perks that have become routine on ultra premium credit cards, such as rebates on travel purchases, airport lounge access, and travel insurance. However, the Black Card’s benefits are stingier than what you’ll find on competing cards. Its airline fee reimbursement, for example, is only worth $100. Compare that to competitors that offer $250 to $300 in similar types of rebates. 
  • Annual fee is difficult to earn back: Many ultra premium credit cards offer so many high value benefits that they far outweigh the cost of the annual fee. Not so with the Black Card. Its airline fee reimbursement and application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck are worth just $200 combined—$295 less than the annual fee. If you find yourself spending a lot of time in airport lounges, the Priority Pass membership may tip the value in your favor. 
  • Points don’t transfer to partner loyalty programs: Unlike other premium travel rewards programs, this one doesn’t have any travel partners, so you can’t transfer your points to frequent flyer or hotel rewards programs. That’s a huge miss for rewards maximizers who can get significantly more value out of points they’ve transferred to airlines or hotels.

Cardholders who carry premium cards from other issuers may be able to get as much as 9 cents per point out of their rewards if they transfer them to the right partner

Earning Points & Rewards

When it comes to earning credit card rewards, the Mastercard Black Card keeps it simple: You get 1 point per $1 spent, no matter what you buy.

The Black Card’s low-maintenance rewards structure is nice for cardholders who don’t want to mess with bonus categories and complicated rewards. However, it isn’t very competitive, even when you account for the fact that Black Card points are worth up to twice the value of the average credit card rewards point. Other premium cards typically offer more opportunities to gather significant rewards by offering bonus points on travel or other types of purchases. 

The Black Card lags the competition in another way in that it doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, so you’ll likely have to wait a while before you earn enough points to buy a trip. On the plus side, the Black Card’s points don’t expire, so you don’t have to rush to use them. You are also free to earn an unlimited number of points. 

Redeeming Rewards

You can redeem your rewards for travel, gift cards, cash, statement credits, or merchandise. It’s all managed through Luxury Card’s portal online or via telephone.

The value of your points will vary, depending on how you redeem them. For example, if you redeem your points for statement credits or cash deposits to your bank account, your points will be worth 1.5 cents each. If you redeem them for airfare, they will be worth 2 cents each. But if you redeem them for gift cards, merchandise, car rentals, or hotel bookings, your points will only be worth 1 cent each. 

You can also purchase travel with partial points and pay the difference with your card, which is a nice feature if you don’t spend enough to earn a full ticket’s worth of points. 

If you decide to redeem your points for travel, you’ll have to go through Luxury Card to book your trip, which may limit your options. However, Luxury Card allows you to specify a flight or other trip you’ve found on your own as long as it’s available on the travel booking service Luxury Card uses. There are no blackout dates, nor will you have to worry about other travel restrictions. 

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

If you pair your Mastercard Black Card with a no annual fee card that offers stronger rewards on everyday purchases, such as a 5% cash back card or a 3% gas card, you could earn a decent amount. 

Then just use this card on purchases that don’t normally earn a bonus from other cards, such as gym memberships, health care, and other expenses. Many competing cards also only give you 1% back on such purchases.

Don’t bother redeeming this card’s points for anything other than travel, though: If you do, you may have an even harder time justifying the annual fee.

The Mastercard Black Card’s Excellent Perks

  • Airline fee reimbursement: You’ll get up to $100 back for airfare, upgrades, baggage fees, inflight food and beverages, and more. 
  • Airport lounge access: Enjoy unlimited access to more than 1,300 airport lounges through Priority Pass, a $429 value.
  • Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement: Apply for faster security screening and get reimbursed for the fee, up to $100. 
  • Insurance coverage for delayed luggage: Get reimbursed up to $100 a day for three days for emergency purchases when your baggage is delayed by more than four hours. 
  • Insurance coverage for trip cancellation or interruption: This is a secondary insurance plan, but it covers you for up to $5,000 worth of nonrefundable travel expenses.
  • Travel accident insurance: You’ll get up to $250,000 coverage for eligible common carrier accidental death and dismemberment. 

To take advantage of any of these perks and coverages, you must have used your card for the relevant purchase.

The Mastercard’s Black Card’s Other Features

  • Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
  • Cellphone coverage (secondary)
  • Invitation-only experiences with Mastercard Priceless
  • Discounts with participating merchants
  • Concierge for booking event tickets, travel, and other services

Customer Experience

In addition to a 24/7 concierge, Luxury Card offers seven-day customer service. You won’t be able to call anytime you want, though. The customer service line is open from 7 a.m. to midnight Eastern time. Luxury Card also promotes an app for cardholders with which you can manage your account, chat with a concierge, make travel bookings, and explore “curated experiences.”

The Black Card is issued by Barclays Bank, and ultimately that’s who administers your account. Barclays ranked fifth out of 11 big credit card issuers in J.D Power’s most recent survey of credit card satisfaction. 

Security Features

The Mastercard Black Card offers industry standard fraud protection and account security, including zero liability for fraudulent purchases. Cardholders are also enrolled in Mastercard’s ID theft protection service, which will help with card replacement and credit bureau notification if you are a victim of identity theft.

Mastercard Black’s Fees

The Black Card’s triple-digit annual fee is sure to turn off a lot of budget-conscious cardholders. The Black Card’s other fees are standard for a card of its type, and there’s no foreign transaction fee.

Next Steps
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CURRENT CARD
Mastercard® Black Card™
overall rating
3.5
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.99% variable
Annual Fee $495
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1 point per dollar on all purchases.
Our Methodology
At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Luxury Card. "Mastercard Black Card: Terms and Conditions." Accessed Jan. 17, 2020.

  2. J.D. Power. "2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.