Wealthy card carriers who can easily sink nearly $1,000 into a credit card annual fee without thinking much of it are the best candidates for the Mastercard Gold Card. If you’re so well-off that it doesn’t matter to you whether the Gold Card’s benefits and perks exceed the value of its annual fee, then the shininess of the card and the exclusivity of carrying it may be worth it. This card’s straightforward, easy-to-understand rewards earning program may also appeal to you.
You’ll need excellent credit to qualify for the Mastercard Gold Card. But if your credit is anything less than perfect, you probably shouldn’t be thinking about such a pricey card anyway.
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 you’re the kind of person who relishes in pulling out a flashy metal card to pay a restaurant tab, the Mastercard Gold Card could be for you. Like other cards in the Luxury Card lineup, it weighs significantly more than fancy metal credit cards offered by the competition.
- 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: There are not many cards that cost nearly $1,000 or more to own. Some of those that do are invitation-only cards that are rumored to offer outsized benefits. The Gold Card, by contrast, 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.
- Subpar rewards program: For such an expensive card, you’d expect cardholders to earn significantly more rewards. But the Gold Card awards just 1 point per $1 spent and doesn’t offer any additional bonuses. Even when you account for the fact that this card’s points are worth 2 cents each when redeemed for cash or travel, the rewards program still isn’t very competitive for such an expensive card.
- 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.
- Mediocre collection of perks: 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 sometimes get as much as 9 cents per point out of their rewards 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 Gold Card as you would with a premium rewards card that costs half as much to own.
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 inflight 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 Luxury Card notes that the estimated value of its benefits adds up to just $500—which is $495 less than the card’s annual fee.
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 unlimited access to more than 1,200 airport lounges.
- 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 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.
The Mastercard’s Gold Card’s Other Features
- Concierge for booking event tickets, travel, and other services
- Airport meet and assist
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Cellphone coverage (secondary)
- Discounts with participating merchants
- Hotel and travel perks
- Exclusive, curated experiences
In addition to a 24/7 concierge, Luxury Card offers 7-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 12 a.m. EST. 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 fifth out of 11 big credit card issuers in J.D Power’s 2019 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.