Wealthy card carriers with excellent credit scores and who value a card that’s as much a status symbol as it is a rewards card are the best candidates for the Mastercard Gold Card. The gold-plated construction and 22-gram weight are attention-grabbers and unique in the world of consumer credit cards. At the same time, while the card’s rewards value isn’t as good as other luxury cards, its straightforward, easy-to-understand rewards program may appeal to you.
However, if you want a luxury credit card with formidable rewards as opposed to flashy looks and weight, you may want to look elsewhere.
It’s heavier and more stylish than the average card
Extravagant customer service
Above-average points value
Good 0% interest balance transfer offer
Steep annual fee
Subpar rewards program
No bonus for new cardholders
Mediocre collection of perks
No points transfer to partner loyalty programs
- It’s heavier and more stylish than the average credit card: If status is part of why you own a credit card, the Mastercard Gold Card's weight and incorporation of gold into the card build provides an extra level of luxury other cards don't offer.
- Extravagant customer service: If you need help zipping through an airport, Luxury Card will have a special travel escort meet you there. The Gold Card also offers a 24/7 concierge service that Luxury Card calls “a lifestyle management tool tailored to each card member’s specific needs.”
- Above-average points value: Although the Gold Card’s rewards program is modest compared to other luxury cards, its rewards points are worth twice the value of the average credit card rewards point—if you redeem your points for travel or cash, the Gold Card effectively returns 2% on every purchase.
- Good 0% interest balance transfer offer: If you can afford a card with a nearly four-figure annual fee, credit card debt may be the least of your concerns. But if you happen to have acquired more debt than you’re ready to repay right away, you can transfer it to the Gold Card and take 15 billing cycles to pay it off, without paying a dime in interest. That’s a rare perk for a high-end rewards card.
- Steep annual fee: While sporting a nearly $1,000 annual fee, the Gold Card offers benefits nearly identical to its lower-priced Luxury Card siblings and those benefits don’t compare favorably to the benefits on other premium credit cards.
- No bonus for new cardholders: Unlike many premium credit cards, the Gold Card doesn’t offer any kind of bonus rewards. As a result, you are leaving a ton of money on the table by choosing the Gold Card over other premium rewards cards with hefty bonuses. For example, the Citi Prestige and the Chase Sapphire Reserve cost about half what the Gold Card does, and each card offers a bonus worth a few hundred dollars.
- Perks equal to cards with lower annual fees: The Gold Card offers perks that are common on premium travel cards, such as airport lounge access and an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. It also offers some travel perks, such as resort credits. However, you can find similar—and often more generous—perks on much less expensive cards.
- No points transfer to partner loyalty programs: Gold Card holders also miss out on the ability to earn more value from their rewards points by transferring them to airline or hotel loyalty programs. That may be a deal breaker for some frequent travelers since people with some travel credit cards can get more than 2 cents per point out of their rewards on a consistent basis when they transfer their points, according to our calculations.
Earning Points & Rewards
Since cardholders earn 1 point for every $1 they spend, the Mastercard Gold Card is fairly low maintenance. You won’t need to track your spending in order to optimize rewards, nor will you need to opt into any special bonus categories to reap more rewards. That can be a big plus for those who don’t want to mess with a complicated rewards scheme.
Points don’t expire either and there’s no limit on the number of points you can earn.
That said, with such a low rewards rate and no bonus for new cardholders, it could take quite some time to earn a lot of points. Even if you regularly charged $5,000 a month to your card, for example, you’d collect just 60,000 rewards points by the end of the year, which would be worth $1,200 in travel or cash. That’s not much more than the card’s annual fee.
Depending on your spending choices, you could earn just as much with the a premium rewards card that costs half as much to own as you can with the Gold Card.
You can redeem your rewards for travel, gift cards, cash, statement credits, or merchandise through Luxury Card’s online portal or over the telephone. The value of your points will vary depending on how you redeem them. Your best bet is to redeem your points for cash back or travel since they’ll be worth 2 cents each.
You’ll get less value from your points if you redeem them for gift cards, merchandise, car rentals, or hotel stays. In that case, your points may only be worth 1 cent each—or potentially even less.
Although you’ll need to go through Luxury Card to book your rewards-funded travel, you won’t need to wait until you’ve earned enough points to cover a full trip. Luxury Card allows you to use the points you have and then pay the difference with your card.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
If you can afford an additional annual fee, consider pairing this card with a luxury airline credit card so that you can benefit from airline perks that the Gold Card doesn’t offer, such as free checked baggage and priority boarding. Then save the Gold Card’s travel credit for other air travel purchases that aren’t covered by your airline card, such as in-flight food and beverages or seat upgrades.
From a cost-benefit perspective, it’s hard to see how cardholders who invest in the Gold Card will reap enough value to make its high annual fee worth it. Even when you take into account the rewards and the benefits it's hard to see someone getting enough value out of this card especially in comparison to other options.
Otherwise, to wring maximum value out of this card, plan to make heavy use of the concierge, the airport meet-and-greet service, and the free airport lounge visits.
The Mastercard Gold Card’s Excellent Perks
The Gold Card offers several perks the editors of The Balance consider “excellent”:
- Airline fee reimbursement: You’ll get up to $200 back for airfare, upgrades, baggage fees, lounge access, inflight food and beverages, and more.
- Airport lounge access: Enjoy complimentary access to more than 1,300 airport lounges.
- Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement: Apply for faster security screening and get reimbursed for the fee, up to $100 every five years.
- Insurance coverage for delayed luggage: Get reimbursed up to $100 a day for up to 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 of nonrefundable travel expenses.
- Travel accident insurance: You’ll be insured for up to $250,000 of coverage for eligible common carrier accidental death and dismemberment losses.
- Cellphone coverage: Provides coverage for your cellphone in the event it is damaged or stolen. The specifics of your coverage are found in your Gold Card benefits guide. Expect the coverage to reflect what’s common among other cards: a yearly claim payout maximum, a per-claim payout maximum and a per-claim deductible.
The Mastercard Gold Card’s Other Features
- Concierge for booking event tickets, travel, and other services
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Hotel and travel perks
- Discounts on Boxed purchases
In addition to a 24/7 concierge, the Luxury Card customer service line is open daily from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. Eastern Time. In addition, Luxury Card offers an app you can use to chat with concierges, book travel, manage your account, browse experiences, or access other services.
The Gold Card is issued by Barclays Bank and it administers the account. Barclays ranked ninth out of 11 national credit card issuers and had a below average score in J.D Power’s 2020 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study.
The Mastercard Gold Card provides fraud and account protection that’s standard for the industry, including zero liability for fraudulent purchases. You’ll also be covered by Mastercard’s ID theft protection service, which will help with card replacement and credit bureau notification if you should become a victim of identity theft.
Mastercard Gold’s Fees Fees
The Gold Card charges an enormous annual fee, making it inaccessible to most consumers. Its authorized user fee is also exceptionally high. However, the Gold Card’s other fees are unremarkable for a premium rewards card and consistent with industry norms. As you’d expect with a premium travel card, there’s no fee for foreign transactions.