The Luxury Card Mastercard® Black Card™ is a powerful and prestigious—yet often overlooked—credit card that competes with Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Citi Prestige®, The Platinum Card® from American Express, and U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card. While there’s a lingering urban legend about the card being invitation-only, the Mastercard Black Card is, in fact, open to all applicants (but don’t expect approval unless you have a great credit score).
In general, this card is not showered with a lot of love or attention in the credit card blogosphere. Likely, it’s because the approach toward cardholders is different than its competitors. There are no sign-up bonuses or bonus categories for earning points; the Mastercard Black Card is looking to serve its base long-term through services and benefits. The structure for earning and burning points is simple and straightforward, and the true worth of the card lies in its highly personalized concierge services; snazzy, patented, status-symbol card design; and unlimited guest policy within the Priority Pass™ Select lounge network.
Here, we look at the card’s competitive advantages and disadvantages to see how it stacks up in the ultra-luxury credit card sphere.
Earnings and burning points
The card promises strong rewards on everyday spending. Cardholders simply earn one point on every dollar spent, regardless of spending category. The value of these points lies in the power of redemption. Points are redeemed at a rate of 2% toward unrestricted award travel or 1.5% cash back.
Unlike premium Chase and Amex cards, points cannot be transferred to programs of airline and hotel partners. However, travel can be booked directly through the card’s online Rewards Center at a redemption value of 2%. (By comparison, Ultimate Rewards earned on the Chase Sapphire Reserve are redeemed at a rate of 1.5% for unrestricted award travel and at 1% with The Platinum Card from American Express.)
Moreover, points can be redeemed at a value of 1.5% if cashed out in the form of a statement credit or direct deposit to a checking account. This is definitely higher than the 1% cash back rate of Chase Sapphire Reserve or the sub 1% rate of The Platinum Card from American Express and Citi Prestige. That said, those who are solely interested in getting cash back from their credit card and not looking for premium card benefits and services need not spend $495 a year for the Mastercard Black Card. There are plenty of low-fee or no-fee credit cards that give an excess of 1% cash back return.
Customer service and concierge service
Strong customer and concierge services are what really set this card apart. Holders of the Mastercard Black Card can download the Luxury Card App, which is different than other credit card apps on the market. It offers concierge and personal assistant services via live chat, 24/7, directly from the app. This is a game changer for those of us who love using our premium credit cards’ travel and concierge services but don’t feel like calling in to book the likes of dinner reservations, airline flights, hotels, and concert tickets.
While other premium cards have credit card apps, their functions are more limited. Chase’s app does not offer any type of live chat feature. Apps by American Express and Citi do offer live chat features, but chat topics are limited to account services. Meaning, the Luxury Card App is the only one on the market we’re aware of offering live concierge services. Of course, those who want to call or email the Luxury Card Concierge™ instead of chatting still can.
Similar to all its competitors in the ultra-luxury credit card market, the Mastercard Black Card provides complimentary Priority Pass Select membership (valued at $399) in the world’s largest airport lounge network. However, unlike its competitors, this card comes with an unlimited guest policy. There is no other credit card (except the Mastercard Gold Card) that offers such a generous guest policy. This is especially useful for those traveling with large families or fellow conventioneers.
However, it’s important to note here that The Platinum Card from American Express still claims title to the greatest airport lounge access program. Platinum cardholders have access to the full portfolio of The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠, which encompasses lounges of the Priority Pass network (minus “lounge alternatives”) plus The Centurion Lounge network (American Express’ signature, state-of-the-art lounges), other Amex-branded lounges, Delta Sky Club® airline lounges, and Plaza Premium lounges.
Next, in terms of special travel benefits, Mastercard Black Card members can take advantage of the Luxury Card VIP Hotel & Travel Program. Amenities may include room upgrades, spa credits, and complimentary food and beverage. In addition, the card provides a fast track to elite level in Avis Preferred Plus® and Sixt Rent a Car’s rewards programs.
In line with its competitors, the Mastercard Black Card provides a $100 Global Entry Application Fee statement credit every four years, for each application renewal. The card also provides a $100 travel credit per calendar year valid toward any purchase categorized as “air travel” by Barclays Card and its merchants, including airfare, baggage fees, flight upgrades, and select in-flight purchases (alcohol and food: yes; duty-free: no).
Implicit travel insurances
The implicit travel insurances with the Mastercard Black Card are similar to those offered from other cards within the World Elite Mastercard portfolio. These insurances are okay but not as strong as those that come with, say, the Chase Sapphire cards or other Visa Infinite cards. On the other hand, they are far better than minimal implicit travel insurance provided through American Express.
When charging a trip’s entire common carrier fare to Mastercard Black Card, cardholders are automatically covered by worldwide travel accident insurance with maximum coverage provided up to $250,000 (to compare, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders are covered up to $1,000,000). For the auto rental collision damage waiver benefit (Auto Rental CDW), coverage is secondary within the United States and primary outside the United States, if your automobile insurance does not cover you abroad. The amount covered is up to $50,000 versus $75,000 from all its competitors. Chase Sapphire cards also provide primary coverage, not secondary.
When charging a trip to Mastercard Black Card, the implicit trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance policies compensate loss from reasons such as inclement weather. Coverage is provided up to $5,000 per trip.
Arguably the best shopping benefit of the Mastercard Black Card is flashing it: Mastercard Back Card is the apex of metal card design and construction with 46 patents and a stainless steel front and carbon back.
The other shopping benefits and protections of the Mastercard Black Card are again in line with that of most cards that are World Elite Mastercard. Thankfully, World Elite Mastercard is one of the few brands that still offers price protection and return protection. (Note: Chase did away with both last year.) Price protection is an insurance that covers price drops, insomuch that cardholders can be reimbursed the difference in price on most products if recorded at a lower price in a printed advertisement at any retail store or nonauction Internet advertisement. Return protection provides reimbursement of a personal item if you are dissatisfied with it and the retailer won’t accept the return within 90 days of purchase. Essentially, return protection extends the return policy of your purchase threefold in many cases.
If the same item purchased with your Mastercard Black Card is found at a lower price 120 days after purchase, you are eligible to receive reimbursement of the price difference, up to $250 per item, and up to $1,000 annually (versus $500 per item and $2,500 annually with Chase Sapphire Reserve).
In addition, when charging a purchase entirely to the Mastercard Black Card or using the card’s reward points, cardholders are automatically entitled to the extended warranty protection, which doubles the manufacturer’s warranty up to two years on eligible manufacturer’s warranties of two years or less. However, this policy does not work with customer-purchased extended warranties such as AppleCare (while the policy from Citi Prestige and The Platinum Card from American Express does).
Who should get the Mastercard Black Card?
The Mastercard Black Card is great for those who covet the prestige of a snazzy, status-symbol credit card and are looking to take full advantage of the 24/7 concierge services. It’s also great for those who want the services of a premium credit card but simply want to cash out points for unrestricted award travel or cash (and don’t want to bother with complex tiered earning structures and point transfers). It’s also ideal for those who tend to travel with plenty of kids or friends in tow—the unlimited guest policy at Priority Pass lounges is priceless for many.
For those who aren’t going to take full advantage of the card, $495 per year (with additional cardholders $195 each) is rather steep. However, for those who truly value top-of-the-line concierge services (and know that membership to agencies and clubs that offer such services typically costs in the thousands), this card presents excellent value.