Mastercard Black Card 2023 Review: Best for Flexible Airfare Redemptions
When you're ready to redeem rewards earned with your credit card, it pays to make sure you're getting the most value possible.
The Mastercard Black Card is a luxury credit card that packs a punch for redemptions.
While this card earns a flat one point per dollar on purchases, redemption rates are competitive. Constructed with a unique metal design, the Mastercard Black Card is especially valuable when redeeming for airfare.
Since this is a luxury credit card, there's a higher annual fee involved. But additional travel benefits, such as an annual airline credit, help to offset some of the cost.
If you're interested in getting a premium rewards card specifically for travel, read our in-depth review to learn more about what the Mastercard Black Card offers.
Mastercard Black Card Pros & Cons
Get More Value When Redeeming Points
The Mastercard Black Card offers a flat rewards rate on every purchase.
When you charge purchases to the card, whether it's airfare, shopping or everyday spending, you earn one point per dollar.
Rewards are unlimited so the more you spend, the more points you earn.
Where this card aims to deliver value is in redemptions.
When you redeem points for airfare, you get 2% value for rewards.
So for example, 50,000 points earned is the equivalent of a $1,000 ticket on any airline, with no blackout dates or restrictions.
That tops the value you can get with other travel cards when redeeming for airfare.
If you're looking for a rewards card that allows you to get the most mileage possible from points when booking airfare, the Mastercard Black Card fits the bill. And since there are no blackout dates or restrictions when redeeming, using points to book flights is simple.
This card also offers above-average redemption value for cash rewards. When you redeem points for cash, you get 1.5% in value. That's a notch above other cards which may offer 1% or less in value for cash rewards.
Since rewards are unlimited, this card could be ideal for moderate to heavier spenders.
Say you charge $5,000 in purchases each month, for example, earning 60,000 points annually. At a 1.5% valuation, those points would be worth $900 in cash rewards. But if you apply them toward airfare, that increases to $1,200.
If you spend $10,000 a month instead, you could increase redemptions to $1,800 per year in cash value or $2,400 in airfare value. That's a decent amount of value, considering that you're only earning one point per dollar on purchases.
Additional Luxury Travel Perks
The Mastercard Black Card also includes some additional features that make booking travel more enticing.
For example, cardmembers enjoy:
- 24/7 Luxury Card concierge service
- Up to $100 in annual airline credit toward tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more
- Up to a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
- Complimentary airport lounge access to more than 1,200 lounges through Priority Pass Select membership
Each of these benefits add value to the card, helping to offset the $495 annual fee.
Priority Pass Select membership, for example, can range from $99 to $429 per year alone depending on which membership tier you choose.
Add in the $100 airline fee credit and the value earned with rewards and it may be easy for frequent spenders to earn back the cost of the fee and then some.
Other Card Features and Benefits
Along with those premium travel benefits, there are even more extras you can take advantage of with this card.
The list of additional card benefits includes:
- Cellphone protection
- Baggage delay insurance
- Mastercard ID theft protection
- $0 fraud liability protection
- Travel accident insurance
- Auto rental collision waiver
- 24/7 customer service assistance
- Monthly Lyft credits
- Free 2-day shipping with ShopRunner
- Discounts on Onefinestay bookings
- Trip cancellation and interruption coverage
- Travel assistance services
All of these benefits increase the card's appeal, especially when it comes to travel. Having trip protections included and travel assistance services onhand can make taking trips that much easier.
Mastercard Black Card Fees
The Mastercard Black Card's largest fee is the annual fee of $495.
But again, whether it makes sense to pay the fee depends on how often you use the card for purchases.
At a minimum, you'd need to charge $2,750 per month to earn the equivalent of the annual fee back in cash rewards. You could get away with charging $2,070 per month to cover the annual fee if you plan to redeem points for airfare instead.
Adding an authorized user to your account could help you earn points faster. But keep in mind that there's a $195 annual fee charged separately for each authorized user. You'd have to factor that into your spending and points calculations.
This card doesn't offer an introductory APR for purchases but you do get one for balance transfers.
That's something you might be interested in if you have a balance on another high interest card you'd like to transfer.
Compared to Other Travel Rewards Credit Cards
The Mastercard Black Card might appeal to you if you want a simplified way to earn cash rewards. But consider other rewards options to see how they stack up.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
The is a top-shelf option for travel rewards.
This card has a generous introductory welcome bonus and competitive rewards. Travel and dining purchases earn three points per dollar, while all other purchases earn one point per dollar.
You can get 50% more in points redemption when redeeming points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. There's also a $300 annual travel credit that's applied to your account each anniversary year.
This card's annual fee is slightly higher than the Mastercard Black Card, at $550. Adding authorized users triggers an additional $75 annual fee per user.
Read the Chase Sapphire Reserve editor's review.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The is designed for travelers who want to maximize points earnings.
With this card, you earn five Membership Rewards points per dollar on hotels booked through amextravel.com and on flights booked with the airline or American Express Travel. All other purchases earn one point per dollar.
Points are unlimited so a frequent traveler could easily accrue a substantial amount of rewards. This card comes with premium benefits such as a sizable introductory welcome offer, a $200 annual airline fee credit and Global Lounge Collection access.
This card has a $550 annual fee (see Rates & Fees; terms apply) but there's no additional fee for authorized users.
Read the American Express Platinum Card editor's review.
Citi Prestige Card
The Citi Prestige Card offers a tiered rewards structure geared toward travelers. With this card, you can earn:
- 5 points per dollar on air travel
- 5 points per dollar on restaurants
- 3 points per dollar on hotels
- 3 points per dollar on cruise line purchases
- 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
This card includes some outstanding travel benefits, such as a 4th night stay free when you book four or more consecutive nights through ThankYou.com, VIP lounge access with Priority Pass Select and up to a $250 travel credit annually.
Points can be redeemed for travel through ThankYou.com or transferred to participating travel partners. In terms of cost, this card also has a $495 annual fee. There is no additional fee for authorized users.
Read the Citi Prestige Card editor's review.
What’s the Verdict?
The Mastercard Black Card's biggest selling point is its redemption value.
Compared to other travel rewards cards, this card outstrips the competition in terms of making points go as far as possible when redeeming for airfare.
That makes it a potentially good fit for someone who wants to get the most bang for their travel buck and doesn't mind paying a higher annual fee.
On the other hand:
You could get more flexibility with another travel rewards card.
All three of the cards used for comparison, for instance, allow for points transfers to participating travel partners.
And, all three offer an introductory bonus, something the Mastercard Black Card lacks.
If you're considering this card, do the math to estimate how much points value you could reap for airfare or cash back, based on how you typically spend. And of course, keep the regular variable APR in mind if you tend to carry a balance instead of paying in full.
See the rates & fees for the mentioned American Express cards: The Platinum Card from American Express (Rates & Fees; terms apply).