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Mastercard® Black Card™ Review

Black Card Mastercard

Our rating



  • thumbs-up2% return on airfare redemptions
  • thumbs-upComplimentary access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide
  • thumbs-up$100 annual airline fee credit


  • thumbs-down$495 annual fee + $195 annual authorized user fee
  • thumbs-downNo sign-up bonus
  • thumbs-downLow baseline earn rate and no favored spend categories

The Mastercard® Black Card™ is an exclusive travel rewards credit card. It has a $495 annual fee and a fairly generous rewards program that effectively offers a 2% return on airfare redemptions and a 1.5% return on cash back redemptions. It’s part of the high-end Luxury Card™ brand, which also markets the more affordable Mastercard® Titanium (with a $195 annual fee) and the super-exclusive Mastercard® Gold Card™ (with a $995 annual fee).

Of the three Luxury Cards, the Black Card earns our highest rating: a flat 4 out of 5 stars. It’s not a bad travel card by any means, but the reality is that the value just isn’t there for the majority of would-be users. The only reason it doesn’t score worse is that for users who can take full advantage of its rewards and perks, it has the potential to be quite lucrative.

Is the Mastercard Black Card Worth It?

This is the question we came here to answer. To do that, we’ll need to look first at the Black Card’s rewards program and then at its value-added nonrewards perks and benefits.

First, rewards. Purchases made with the Black Card earn unlimited 1 point per $1 spent. There are no earning restrictions or special bonus categories with higher earning rates. Airline redemptions value points at $0.02 apiece, and cash back redemptions value points at $0.015 apiece. That’s a respective return on spending of 2% and 1.5%.

Want to offset the annual fee through earned rewards alone? Assuming you don’t have an authorized user, you’ll need to earn and redeem about $500 in rewards per year. That requires $25,000 in annual spending if you redeem exclusively for airfare and about $37,500 in annual spending if you redeem exclusively for cash back.

Doable if the Black Card is your primary credit card and you have a healthy (OK, enviable) discretionary budget. Otherwise, probably a stretch.

Next, benefits. Luxury Card touts the Black Card as almost impossibly generous for travelers, and they’re not totally blowing smoke. The biggest tangible perks — that is, those whose value you can measure — are:

  • Complimentary airport lounge access at more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide for the cardholder and ticketed traveling companions (approximate value of $60 per person, per visit)
  • $100 annual airline fee credit
  • $100 Global Entry application fee credit (once every 4 years)
  • Exclusive perks and discounts at thousands of hotels and resorts worldwide, which Luxury Card claims are worth something like $500 per visit (but vary considerably)

If you can hit 10 airport lounges in the course of a year and take full advantage of the airline fee credit, you’ll more than pay for the annual cost of the Black Card, even if you have an authorized user. That’s before you even get to the hotel and resort benefits.

On the other hand, if you’re an occasional traveler without a penchant for luxury, you probably won’t recoup the annual fee (to say nothing of the authorized user fee) with benefits alone.

Key Features of the Mastercard Black Card

Let’s take a closer look at the most important features of the Mastercard Black Card.

Earning Points

The Black Card earns 1 point for every $1 spent on purchases. There are no restrictions to how many points you can earn, and points never expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing.

Redeeming Points

The Black Card has no confusing tiers, rotating categories, or redemption thresholds. You never have to wait to redeem your points, and no bank account is required for cash back redemption.

The best way to redeem points earned with your Black Card is for airfare. Airfare redemptions always value points at $0.02 apiece, regardless of the route, carrier, underlying cost of the ticket, or other factors.

The other high-value redemption option is the cash back statement credit, which values points at $0.015 apiece – for example, 10,000 points translates to $150 in cash.

Priority Pass Select Airport Lounge Access

This card entitles you to complimentary, unlimited access to about 1,300 airport lounges worldwide through Priority Pass Select, a global airport lounge network with lounges in more than 100 countries worldwide (including about 31 restaurant lounges where Black Card members enjoy dining discounts to the tune of about $30 per visit). Lounge access is complimentary for all guests of the cardmember, including friends that are not direct family.

Annual Airline Credit

Every year your account remains open and in good standing, you receive a $100 annual airline credit that can be redeemed toward airfare, class upgrades, baggage fees, and other airline purchases. The credit is automatically applied to your account as a statement credit.

Luxury Card Travel Benefits

Cardmembers enjoy an average value of $500 in benefits and services per stay at over 3,000 properties around the world, according to Luxury Card. Participating brands include Montage, St. Regis, Park Hyatt, The Peninsula, Ritz Carlton, Fairmont, and more.

Typical benefits include spa credits, room upgrades, complimentary food and beverages, early check-in, late check-out, and welcome gifts. Here’s a look at how a recent slate of offers at high-end properties in New York City, Alabama, and Arizona compare:

24/7 Concierge Service

Black Card comes with 24/7, white-glove concierge service from a dedicated cohort of professional concierges that serve only Luxury Card members. Available by phone, email, and live chat within the app (a big help for travelers in countries where international phone calls are expensive), these concierge services include:

  • Help obtaining hard-to-get tickets or reservations, especially in foreign markets where apps like OpenTable (or even Google searches) are unreliable and language barriers impede DIY reservations
  • Help with complex travel bookings
  • Securing event tickets
  • Arranging car rental and limousine service
  • Arranging flower, grocery, and dry goods deliveries
  • Inventory and pricing research for hard-to-find items
  • Directions to gas stations, supermarkets, parking garages, and other essential services

Priceless Events

Black Card users get special (and sometimes exclusive) access to Mastercard’s lineup of “Priceless” events and experiences. These events are frequently invite-only or restricted to VIPs such as high-end Mastercard members. Examples of “Priceless” events include VIP and behind-the-scenes tickets to pro golf tournaments, and curated city experiences in exotic locales. Additional fees and expenses, such as airfare, may apply.

Magazine Subscription

Luxury Card members get complimentary subscriptions to LUXURY MAGAZINE, a bi-annual glossy mag that delivers a variety of content catering to an affluent readership, including articles on travel, architecture, real estate, autos, and technology.

Mastercard-Backed Travel Perks

This card comes with a nice lineup of more prosaic travel perks backed by Mastercard. Many are itemized components of standard-issue travel insurance policies. Notable inclusions:

  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Trip cancellation and interruption coverage
  • Travel accident insurance with a death benefit of $500,000 per insured
  • Complimentary rental car insurance on rentals paid in full with your card

Additional Mastercard Benefits

The Black Card has some non-travel benefits backed by Mastercard as well. Highlights include:

  • Enjoy complimentary cell phone protection up to $800 per claim and $1,000 per covered card in a 12-month period (maximum two claims). Each claim is subject to a $25 deductible.
  • Take at least 3 eligible Lyft rides per month using your Black Card and earn a $5 Lyft credit.
  • Sign up for a complimentary ShopRunner membership using your Black Card and receive 2-day free shipping and free return shipping on eligible purchases (a $79 value).

Another signature benefit, Mastercard ID Theft Protection, features monitoring on the covered cardmember’s:

  • Email addresses
  • Debit/credit cards/prepaid cards
  • Bank accounts
  • Web logins (username and password)
  • Medical insurance cards
  • Driver’s license
  • Loyalty cards
  • Affinity cards
  • Passport number
  • Vehicle insurance cards
  • Social Security number

Important Fees

This card has a $495 annual fee that is not waived in the first year. Each additional authorized user costs $195 per year. There is no foreign transaction fee.

Credit Required

This card requires excellent credit. Any blemishes in your credit history will threaten and possibly disqualify your application.


This card offers an Ongoing Purchase APR that may be 21.24%, 25.43% or 28.24%, depending on the cardholder’s creditworthiness. Additionally, the card has a Cash Advance APR of 30.49%, which will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.

Balance Transfers

This card features a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers that post within 45 days of account opening, lasting for the first fifteen billing cycles. This provides a valuable opportunity to pay off transferred debt without interest. However, the APR will be 21.24%, 25.43% or 28.24% after this period or for transfers outside the 45-day window, based on creditworthiness. Additionally, a fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, will be applied.

Advantages of the Mastercard Black Card

These are the most important benefits of the Mastercard Black Card. Read carefully, then decide whether they offset the downsides.

  • Airfare Redemptions Offer Great Value. The Black Card’s best redemption option is clearly airfare. Points redeemed for airfare are always valued at $0.02 apiece, regardless of the destination, demand, dollar cost, or other factors that can affect airfare redemption values. While $0.02 per point might not be a world-beating rate on international travel, it’s definitely a cut above the competition’s average on domestic flights. Also, it’s nice to know that the value of your redeemed points will always be fixed.
  • Complimentary Airport Lounge Access at 1,300+ Priority Pass Locations. This card offers complimentary access to more than 1,300 Priority Pass airport lounges in more than 100 countries around the world. Perks include unlimited guests of the cardmember, restaurant access at select U.S. locations, and no lounge visit limitations. You won’t find a Priority Pass lounge everywhere you go, but if you stick to top destinations, you’re unlikely to stray too far. When utilized more than a few times per year, this benefit can go a long way toward offsetting the Black Card’s annual fee.
  • High-Touch Concierge Service. Cardmembers enjoy 24/7 service from dedicated concierges available by phone, email, and live chat within the app. Their capabilities are vast, covering everything from dinner and transportation reservations in unfamiliar international markets to securing hard-to-find supplies closer to home. For international travelers, concierge access through the app can significantly reduce the cost of cross-border phone calls.
  • Super Generous Travel Benefits. Aside from complimentary airport lounge access, the Black Card’s VIP travel benefits are pretty awesome. For starters, there’s the $100 Global Entry application fee credit and the annual $100 airline credit (though the airline credit actually isn’t as generous as that of some other cards). The exclusive discounts and perks at more than 3,000 participating hotels and resorts worldwide have even greater potential value; depending on the location and benefits offered, a single stay could nearly offset the Black Card’s annual fee.
  • Cash Back Redemptions Offer Above-Average Value. When you redeem your points for cash back, you get a 1.5% return on your spending – turning a 10,000-point redemption into a $150 statement credit, for example. That’s a better deal than most straight cash back cards, which typically value cash back points at $0.01 apiece.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee. Black Card users never have to worry about foreign transaction fees. If you regularly travel abroad, this card is definitely worthy of your consideration.

Disadvantages of the Mastercard Black Card

To determine whether the Mastercard Black Card truly is the right travel credit card for you, you’ll need to decide whether these downsides are bearable in light of the (potential) upsides.

  • Very High Annual and Authorized User Fees. At $495, the Black Card’s annual fee is very high – and so is the authorized user fee of $195 per additional user. These fees are prohibitive for people who spend modestly and travel only occasionally. In fact, they really dampen the card’s appeal for anyone who can’t fully utilize its generous travel benefits, such as complimentary airport lounge access. That said, the more affordable Titanium Card is a strong alternative for applicants seeking a metal card, 24/7 concierge service, leading airline redemption rates, and hotel benefits – all at less than half the cost.
  • Low, Flat Point Earning Rate on All Purchases. All Black Card purchases earn unlimited 1 point per $1 spent. That’s the standard base rate for most travel and cash back rewards credit cards, so it’s not terrible. However, the Black Card has no bonus spending categories that boost point earnings beyond the modest standard rate. This seriously limits cardholders’ earning potential and undercuts the case for the decent returns on airfare (2%) and cash (1.5%) redemptions. By contrast, Citi ThankYou Premier earns 3 points per $1 spent on travel and 2 points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment, and most branded airline cards earn at least 2 points per $1 spent on airfare.
  • No Sign-up Bonus. The Black Card is one of the few high-end travel cards without a sign-up bonus. If you’re looking for a card juices your rewards account with bonus points, look to the Platinum Card from American Express.
  • No Recurring Loyalty Bonus. Black also lacks any sort of annual loyalty bonus. Many higher-end branded airline credit cards offer free or discounted flights – or enough bonus miles to cover or greatly reduce the cost of a flight – on cardmembers’ sign-up anniversaries. Meanwhile, exclusive general travel cards such as Citi Prestige automatically extend a free 4th night to cardholders who book stays of 4 days or longer. This is another drawback for those seeking reliable offsets for the Black Card’s pricey annual fee.
  • Credits Aren’t As Generous As Some Competing Cards. The Black Card’s $100 annual airline credit and $100 Global Entry application fee credit are nice gestures. However, the airline credit in particular isn’t as generous as those offered by some comparable cards. Citi Prestige offers a $250 annual air travel credit, for instance.

How the Mastercard Black Card Stacks Up

Before you go ahead and apply for the Mastercard Black Card, weigh it against the other two Luxury Cards: Gold and Titanium. Here’s a quick look at how they compare:

Black CardGold CardTitanium Card
Annual Fee$495$995$195
Authorized User Fee$195$295$95
Cash Value1.5%2%1%
Airfare Value2%2%2%
Airline Fee Credit$100/year$200/yearNone
Priority PassYesYesNo
Intro Balance Transfer APR0%0%0%
Ongoing APR21.24%, 25.43% or 28.24%21.24%, 25.43% or 28.24%21.24%, 25.43%, or 28.24%

Final Word

The Mastercard® Black Card™ is unusual in several ways. Its 2% value on airfare redemptions is second to none. Few other cards value cash back points at $0.015 at redemption: usually cash back is redeemed at $0.01 per point, regardless of the rate at which points were earned. And the 24/7 concierge benefit is second to none.

All that aside, the Black Card’s lineup of VIP travel benefits is very conventional for a high-end travel card. If you seek to reduce the stress and inconvenience of time on the road while capitalizing on valuable travel benefits and a $0 foreign transaction fee, this card is definitely worth a closer look. On the other hand, if you have no need for lots of exclusive travel benefits, you can safely pass over the Black Card in favor of a more practical, and probably less expensive, piece of plastic (or steel).

Black Card Mastercard

Our rating



  • thumbs-up2% return on airfare redemptions
  • thumbs-upComplimentary access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide
  • thumbs-up$100 annual airline fee credit


  • thumbs-down$495 annual fee + $195 annual authorized user fee
  • thumbs-downNo sign-up bonus
  • thumbs-downLow baseline earn rate and no favored spend categories
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.