Mastercard Credit Cards: Best and Latest Offers [October 2020]

Mastercard credit cards are issued by many of the most popular credit card companies in the world. See which card would be best for you.
Last updated Oct 1, 2020 | By Ben Walker

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Mastercard partners with the biggest card issuers worldwide to provide you with a wide selection of high-value consumer and business credit cards to choose from. Included among these cards are options for some of the best cashback credit cards and best balance transfer credit cards available.

Here are some of the best Mastercard credit cards and who they’re right for.

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The best Mastercard credit cards

Card name Best for Why it’s special
Citi Double Cash Card Cashback rewards Earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card Dining and entertainment Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases
Citi Premier Card Travel Earn 3X points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel, hotels; $100 annual hotel savings benefit; transfer points to travel partners
Citi Prestige Luxury travel Earn 5X points on airline purchases and restaurants and 3X points on hotels and cruise lines; $250 annual travel credit; VIP airport lounge access; transfer points to travel partners
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card IHG hotel stays Generous 140,000 points sign-up bonus; earn 25X points on IHG hotels and resorts; free anniversary night; automatic Platinum Elite status
Citi Diamond Preferred Balance transfers 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months
Capital One Secured Mastercard Building credit Qualify without a high credit score
JetBlue Plus Card JetBlue travel Generous 40,000 points sign-up bonus; free first checked bag; 5,000 annual anniversary points; 50% in-flight savings
Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard American Airlines travel Generous 50,000 miles sign-up bonus; first checked bag free; preferred boarding; 25% in-flight savings
Frontier Airlines World Mastercard Frontier budget travel Generous 40,000 miles sign-up bonus; $100 annual flight voucher benefit; priority boarding; family pooling
CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard American Airlines business travel Generous 65,000 miles sign-up bonus; first checked bag free; preferred boarding; 25% in-flight Wi-Fi savings; companion certificate benefit

Citi Double Cash Card: Best for cashback rewards

With the Citi Double Cash, cardholders can earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay. Cash back can be redeemed for a statement credit, direct deposit, or a mailed check. You can also convert your cash back to points, which can be used for travel redemptions. The Citi Double Cash has a $0 annual fee.

Why this is best for cashback rewards: The Citi Double Cash Card rises above other cashback credit cards because of how much cash back you can earn. Many cashback cards offer up to 1.5% unlimited cash back, so getting up to 2% is a huge deal. For example, if you spend $5,000 a year on everyday purchases like groceries, you’d get $75 cash back at a 1.5% rate ($5,000 x .015 = $75). With this card, it’s $100 cash back ($5,000 x .02 = $100).

Earn Cash Back Twice

Citi Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash Card

Benefits

  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months
  • 2% cash back on all purchases - 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay
  • No annual fee

Drawbacks

  • Foreign transaction fee
  • No sign-up bonus


Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for dining and entertainment

The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card offers unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases. Even better, you’ll earn 8% cash back on tickets purchased through Vivid Seats (through January 2022). You can also earn a $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Cash back can be redeemed for statement credits, a mailed check, gift cards, and more.

Why this is best for dining and entertainment: If you like to dine out and visit entertainment venues, this is the card for you. Even with the Savor Cash Rewards’ $95 annual fee, no other card offers quite the same amount of value for these specific categories. This cost can be easily offset if you use your card enough, especially if you can take advantage of purchases through Vivid Seats.

Top Cash Back

Benefits

  • $300 cash back welcome offer
  • 4% cash back on dining and entertainment
  • No foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • Minimal travel benefits
  • Has annual fee


Citi Premier Card: Best for travel

For frequent travelers, the Citi Premier Card provides 3X points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel, hotels. You can also earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Why this is best for travel: Cardholders get access to the Citi rewards program. Along with earning Citi ThankYou Points, which can be redeemed for travel, cardholders also receive a $100 annual hotel savings benefit ($100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more). There are also no foreign transaction fees with this card. For more flexibility with your travel, transfer your points from ThankYou.com to Citi transfer partners like Emirates, JetBlue, and Turkish Airlines. If you travel often, these benefits are more than enough to offset the $95 annual fee.

Earn Valuable Travel Points Even Faster

Citi Premier Card

Citi Premier Card

Citi Premier Card

Benefits

  • 60,000 bonus point sign-up offer
  • 3X points in several popular categories
  • No foreign transaction fee

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • Requires excellent credit


Citi Prestige: Best for luxury travel

If you want to travel in style, the Citi Prestige offers great travel rewards and premium benefits. Earn 5X points on airline purchases and restaurants; 3X points on hotels and cruise lines; and 1X points on all other purchases. Also, earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening.

Why this is best for luxury travel: Earning travel rewards is nice, but elevating your entire travel experience is even better. The Citi Prestige has a $495 annual fee, but you can leverage luxury perks to cancel out the cost. Cardholders receive TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee reimbursement, Priority Pass airport lounge access, and up to a $250 annual travel credit each year. For a high-quality airport experience, this is the card for you.

Luxury Travel Benefits

Citi Prestige

Citi Prestige

Citi Prestige

Benefits

  • 50,000 bonus point sign-up offer
  • 5X points on airline purchases and restaurants
  • Up to $250 travel credit every calendar year
  • Complimentary 4th night hotel stay
  • Transfer points to airline partners

Drawbacks

  • Annual fee


IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Best for IHG hotel stays

The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card can help you stay at hotels for free with its valuable rewards. Earn 25X points per $1 spent on stays at IHG hotels and resorts; 2X points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; and 1X points on other purchases. And if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months, you’ll earn 140,000 points.

Why this is best for IHG hotel stays: IHG has over 5,000 locations around the world, which makes it easy for you to earn and use your points. Even better, cardholders receive a free anniversary night each year, which more than makes up for this card’s $89 (waived first year) annual fee. And let’s not forget the automatic Platinum Elite status you receive. Platinum Elite members receive complimentary room upgrades, bonus points earning, guaranteed room availability, and more.

Earn an Annual Free Night

Benefits

  • 140,000 point sign-up bonus
  • Up to 25X points at IHG hotels
  • 2X points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants
  • Free night every year
  • Fourth reward night free

Drawbacks

  • Annual fee after first year
  • Subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule


Citi Diamond Preferred: Best for balance transfers

Although the Citi Diamond Preferred doesn’t earn rewards, it still offers plenty of value. Cardholders get 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months and 0% intro APR on purchases for 18 months. After that period, your APRs will increase to variable APRs based on your creditworthiness.

Why this is best for balance transfers: Balance transfers aren’t for everyone, but if you need help managing your debt, consider this card. For balance transfers, 18 months is a long period of time to get a 0% interest rate. This allows you to move existing debt onto this card and pay it down as much as possible while interest isn’t accruing. Plus, with a $0 annual fee, you don’t have to stress about an annual cost. There is a relatively low balance transfer fee with this card, which is something to keep in mind.

No annual fee and 0% intro APR

Citi Diamond Preferred

Citi Diamond Preferred

Citi Diamond Preferred

Benefits

  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months
  • No annual fee
  • Free access to your FICO® Score

Drawbacks

  • Does not earn rewards


Capital One Secured Mastercard: Best for building credit

The Capital One Secured Mastercard is an excellent option for building your credit. With a $0 annual fee and an initial credit line of $200, you can get your credit back on track.

Why this is best for building credit: If your credit score has taken some hits, it can be difficult to get it back in shape. Most credit cards require good or excellent credit, so those might be out of your reach for now. But with the Capital One Secured Mastercard, the guidelines are different. As long as you qualify for the card and make your refundable security deposit, you’ll be granted credit. Then, it comes down to using your card and making the required payments. Capital One will automatically consider your credit line for increases, and you’ll be on your way to a better credit score.

Pick Your Own Due Date & Rebuild Your Credit

Benefits

  • $200 initial credit line after making minimum security deposit
  • Consideration for higher credit line as soon as 6 months after account opening
  • No annual fee
  • Pick your monthly due date

Drawbacks

  • No rewards program
  • Maximum credit limit is relatively low


JetBlue Plus Card: Best for JetBlue travel

The JetBlue Plus Card offers 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. In addition, you can earn 6X points on JetBlue purchases, 2X points at restaurants and grocery stores, and 1X points per $1 spent on all other purchases. With the opportunity to earn so many points, offsetting the $99 annual fee is simple.

Why this is best for JetBlue travel: The JetBlue Plus Card provides benefits that can enhance your JetBlue flying experience. The travel rewards can help you fly for free, and you also get your first checked bag for free. In addition, you receive 5,000 bonus points each year on your account anniversary; plus, you can use your card to earn Mosaic status benefits.

Mega Points for JetBlue Flyers

JetBlue Plus Card

JetBlue Plus Card

JetBlue Plus Card

Benefits

  • 40,000 bonus point sign-up offer
  • 6X points on JetBlue purchases
  • 0% intro APR for 12 billing cycles on balance transfers
  • $100 annual statement credit after purchasing a JetBlue Vacations package
  • No foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • No travel insurance perks


Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard: Best for American Airlines travel

American Airlines travelers can use the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard to boost their rewards earned from flying. Earn 2X miles at gas stations and restaurants, and on American Airlines purchases; and unlimited 1X miles on all other purchases. And earn 50,000 miles after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months.

Why this is best for American Airlines travel: This card provides plenty of miles for flying American Airlines and for its sign-up bonus. Cardholders also receive their first checked bag for free, which is enough value by itself to offset the $99 (waived first year) annual fee if you fly often. You also get preferred boarding on American Airlines flights and 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases.

Free checked bags & more

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

Benefits

  • 50,000 bonus mile sign-up offer
  • 2X miles at gas stations, restaurants, and on American Airlines purchases
  • First checked bag free

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee after first year
  • Best for frequent American Airlines travelers


Frontier Airlines World Mastercard: Best for Frontier Airlines budget travel

With the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard, you can earn 40,000 miles after spending $500 in the first 90 days. When you use your card, you’ll also earn 5X miles on purchases on Flyfrontier.com, 3X miles at restaurants, and 1X miles on all other purchases.

Why this is best for Frontier travel: Budget travelers typically want to spend less on airfare, and both Frontier Airlines and the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard can help them accomplish this goal. The rewards from this card can help you fly for free, and you’ll earn miles toward Elite Status as you use your card or fly Frontier. Elite 100K offers free checked baggage allowance, which is a huge money saver. If you can leverage these benefits, this card is worth the $79 annual fee.

Easy-to-earn bonus offer

Frontier Airlines World Mastercard

Frontier Airlines World Mastercard

Frontier Airlines World Mastercard

Benefits

  • 40,000 bonus mile sign-up offer
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers
  • 5X miles on purchases at Flyfrontier.com
  • Potential to earn annual $100 flight voucher
  • No foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • Does not have free checked bag benefit


CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard: Best for American Airlines business travel

The CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard offers a generous 65,000 miles after spending $4,000 in the first 4 months. The earning potential for travel rewards is excellent as well. Earn 2X miles per dollar on all eligible American Airlines purchases and on purchases in select business categories (telecommunications, cable, satellite, car rental, gas), and 1X miles on other purchases.

Why this is best for American Airlines business travel: If American Airlines is your preferred airline for business travel, this is the card for you. The sign-up bonus and rewards easily offset the $99 (waived first year) annual fee, and the benefits provide even more value. You get your first checked bag for free, preferred boarding, and 25% in-flight Wi-Fi savings.

Double miles on American Airlines purchases

CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard

CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard

CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard

Benefits

  • 65,000 bonus mile intro offer
  • 2X miles for American Airlines purchases and across several popular categories
  • Free first checked bag
  • Preferred boarding

Drawbacks

  • Annual fee


How we chose these cards

To choose the best Mastercard credit cards, we compared the available cards to find the most valuable benefits and rewards. If the perks and benefits of a card didn’t provide enough value to warrant an annual fee, that card didn’t make the cut. Benefits and rewards include the earning potential, sign-up bonus, and any extra perks on the card.

Because Mastercard credit cards are so diverse, we chose cards that would fit a variety of financial situations. For example, you may not be interested in travel rewards, but cashback rewards sound good to you. For this reason, we wanted to showcase how you can pick and choose the Mastercard credit card that best suits your lifestyle and financial needs.

What is Mastercard?

Mastercard is a global payments network that connects individuals and businesses in more than 210 countries worldwide. For over 50 years, Mastercard has innovated and adapted its technology to help make safe credit card transactions a reality. Today, billions of Mastercard transactions are made on an annual basis.

Mastercard partners with credit card companies to provide consumers and businesses with valuable credit card products. Mastercard isn’t a credit card issuer itself but instead helps facilitate payments on cards. Credit card issuers like Chase, Barclays, Citibank, and others rely on the Mastercard network to ensure their customers can make safe and reliable transactions.

In addition to processing payments, Mastercard also provides benefits on every Mastercard-branded credit card. And with nearly 19,000 employees and a net revenue of $16.9 billion in 2019, it’s clear that Mastercard is a large, successful company.

What are the different Mastercard credit card tiers?

Mastercard doesn’t issue any of its own cards, but Mastercard credit cards still come with extra benefits. As you move up the tiers of Mastercard cards, you’ll find more and more benefits. Keep in mind, the actual card issuer has the final say on which benefits are included on their cards, so credit cards may offer different benefits even if they’re the same Mastercard tier.

These are the current Mastercard tiers, how they work, and the types of benefits you receive:

Standard and Gold Mastercard

Standard and Gold Mastercards are designed for use on everyday purchases, like shopping at retail stores online or in-person. With a Standard or Gold Mastercard, you may get access to these benefits:

  • Zero liability protection: You’re not responsible for unauthorized purchases on your card.
  • Global service: Use the emergency assistance hotline to report a lost or stolen card, get a card replacement or cash advance, or find an ATM.
  • Identity theft protection: Your credit card account is monitored for fraudulent activity, credit inquiries, address changes, and more. You can choose to track any suspicious activity with alert notifications.

Titanium and Platinum Mastercard

Titanium and Platinum Mastercards are designed to offer premium benefits above those offered on standard cards.

With a Titanium or Platinum Mastercard, you may get access to these benefits:

  • Standard and Gold benefits: Receive all the benefits found on Standard and Gold Mastercards.
  • Rewards and experiences: Your eligible card provides access to hundreds of Mastercard Priceless Specials. These offers are exclusive to Mastercard cardholders and may include experiences within these categories: travel, culinary, arts and culture, sports, shopping, and entertainment.

World Mastercard

World Mastercard cardholders experience a large step up in benefits compared to lower Mastercard tiers.

With a World Mastercard, you may get access to these benefits:

  • Titanium and Platinum benefits: Receive all the benefits found on Titanium and Platinum Mastercards.
  • Cell phone protection: Receive $1,000 in yearly coverage (up to two claims per year, $600 max per claim) for stolen or damaged cell phones when their cell phone bill is paid with your World Mastercard.
  • Concierge services: Contact your concierge for personal services, including setting up dinner reservations, booking tickets, or buying and delivering gifts.
  • Airport concierge: Have an in-person agent escort you through the airport on your next departure, arrival, or connecting flight.
  • Professional travel services: Contact travel services for professional help to plan and curate your next trip.
  • Postmates: Get $5 off every Postmates purchase of $25 or more.
  • ShopRunner: Receive a complimentary ShopRunner membership for free two-day shipping and return shipping.
  • Onefinestay: Save 10% on available rental homes and villas around the world.
  • Golf: Access exclusive golf offers and experiences.
  • Luxury hotel & resorts: Enjoy complimentary benefits like room upgrades, daily breakfast for two, and early check-in and late checkout at more than 2,000 global properties.
  • Car, air, cruise, and vacation packages: Receive special savings and upgrade offers for all your travel needs.

World Elite Mastercard

World Elite Mastercards offer the highest level of cardholder benefits.

With a World Elite Mastercard, you may get access to these benefits:

  • World benefits: Receive all the benefits found on World Mastercards.
  • Cell phone protection: The same as World-tier cell phone protection, except the maximum amount per claim is increased to $800.
  • Lyft: Get a $10 Lyft credit each month after taking five rides during the month.
  • Boxed: Get 5% rewards on Boxed orders to use on future purchases.
  • Fandango: Get $5 off future movie tickets for every two movie tickets you buy.

How does Mastercard compare to other credit card companies?

Mastercard doesn’t issue credit cards, but it still competes with certain credit card issuers like American Express and Discover. However, its biggest competitor is likely Visa, another payments network that’s very similar to Mastercard. How does Mastercard compare to these other credit card companies?

Mastercard vs. American Express

Mastercard and American Express are both payments networks, which means they partner with credit card companies to process their transactions. However, American Express is also a credit card issuer, so it can issue credit cards and then use its own payments network for transactions. Mastercard does not issue any credit cards.

Mastercard credit cards are more widely accepted around the world than American Express credit cards, but they’re both accepted almost everywhere in the U.S. Overall, American Express is a much larger company with 64,500 employees, compared to Mastercard’s nearly 19,000 employees.

Mastercard vs. Visa

Mastercard and Visa are the two most well-known and widely accepted cards on the planet. They’re both payments networks, but neither company issues any credit cards. Instead, they partner with credit card issuers like Chase and Citibank to process their transactions. Many credit card companies partner with both Mastercard and Visa with the cards they issue.

For company sizes, Mastercard and Visa are nearly identical. Mastercard has almost 19,000 employees, and Visa sits above 18,000 employees.

Mastercard vs. Discover

Both Mastercard and Discover offer payments services, but Discover also provides online banking accounts, personal loans, and issues its own credit cards. Although Mastercard may not provide as many services, its payments network is larger than Discover’s. Discover is accepted at 99% of U.S. merchants, but it doesn’t have the global reach that Mastercard does.

Discover has more than 17,000 employees, which almost matches the nearly 19,000 employees of Mastercard.

Which Mastercard credit card should you choose?

To choose the right Mastercard credit card, consider the benefits of each card and see which ones most align with your financial goals. Also, remember that each credit card may have different requirements for qualification, so keep your creditworthiness in mind.

Cashback credit cards are straightforward and easy to use. You can use them to earn cashback on every purchase, and they typically don’t have annual fees. This makes earning rewards simple and stress-free.

For travel, there’s nothing better than a travel credit card. You can go with a general travel rewards card that earns flexible points or miles, or a specific airline credit card if you have a preferred airline. Either way, these cards can help you travel more while spending less.

If you aren’t yet able to qualify for a rewards card due to poor credit or limited credit history, consider building your credit with a secured credit card. These cards are meant to provide an opportunity for you to get a credit card without having great credit. In time, they can help you meet the requirements for cards with big sign-up bonuses and high-value benefits.

The best Mastercard credit card for you depends on your lifestyle and spending habits. Carefully browse the list we’ve provided to see which one would best suit your needs.

FAQs about Mastercard credit cards

What's the Mastercard credit card limit?

Mastercard isn’t a card issuer, so it doesn’t set the credit limits on its cards. Instead, credit card companies that partner with Mastercard, like Chase, Citi, and Capital One set the credit limits on their cards. For example, the Capital One Secured Mastercard may start with a credit limit as low as $200, while a Chase IHG Rewards Card could have a limit of $20,000 or more.

What is a Standard Mastercard?

A Standard Mastercard is the lowest tier of Mastercard credit cards. Although Mastercard doesn’t issue credit cards, its partner cards still come with Mastercard benefits. Standard Mastercards typically include these benefits:

  • Zero liability protection: Protection from unauthorized purchases on your credit card.
  • Global service: Emergency assistance hotline for reporting of lost or stolen cards, getting a card replacement or cash advance, or finding an ATM.
  • Identity theft protection: Free monitoring of fraudulent activity, credit inquiries, and other related events concerning your credit card.

Is Mastercard better than Visa?

Mastercard isn’t better than Visa, but Visa isn’t better than Mastercard. Both types of credit cards are accepted all over the world and offer excellent benefits, so it’s more of a tie than a clear winner. Both companies also partner with huge credit card issuers, including Chase and Citibank, which means a lot of the most popular credit cards are either Mastercard or Visa.

Bottom line on the best Mastercard credit card for your wallet

Mastercard credit cards offer some of the best benefits among all available credit cards. They can easily suit the needs of most financial situations, whether you want cash back, travel rewards, low interest rates, or a chance to build your credit.

As you browse the list of the best Mastercard credit cards, consider the types of purchases you generally make and the kind of benefits you’re looking for. Doing so will make it simple to find the perfect card for your wallet.

Earn Cash Back Twice

Citi Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash Card

Benefits

  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months
  • 2% cash back on all purchases - 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay
  • No annual fee