Edited by: Juan Ruiz
& Kellie Jez
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If your credit card boasts a Visa or Mastercard logo, you can have confidence knowing your card will be widely accepted throughout the world.
And while Visa and Mastercard are both brands that are recognized globally, these companies do not actually issue credit cards, but rather serve as payment processors that facilitate the purchases you make with your affiliated card.
Visa and Mastercard credit cards are actually issued by financial institutions, and that’s where the majority of benefits found on your card are derived.
For this reason, Visas and Mastercards end up being issued with varying levels of features and benefits. We’ve written previously on some of the best credit cards that utilize the Visa network so today we’re turning our focus to seeking out some of the best cards that can be found in the Mastercard network.
There are so many types of Mastercards that it’s impossible to list all of the available options, however, in this article we’ve selected some of the best to share with you today.
But first, let’s briefly look at how the Mastercard network works.
Without diving too deep into the topic of credit card association networks, allow us to take just a minute to explain how the Mastercard credit card network relates to your credit card.
First, Mastercard does not issue credit cards, it simply serves as the payment processor between the merchant from which you’re purchasing and the financial institution that issued your card.
Mastercard also offers a menu of benefits from which the financial institution can select to pass on to the cardholder.
There are 3 levels of Mastercard benefits — Mastercard Standard core benefits, elevated Mastercard World benefits, and the highest level Mastercard World Elite benefits.
Most of the cards mentioned here will offer Mastercard World or Mastercard World Elite benefits.
The financial institution decides which benefits it wants to pass on but could also add its own level of benefits. For example, a card issuer may choose to offer additional benefits such as bonus earnings, airport lounge membership, or statement credits for food delivery services.
That’s where the diversity comes in, and the reason different Mastercards have different levels of benefits.
Let’s now look at some of the Mastercard versions that stand out.
Travel rewards credit cards are commonly referred to as such because the earnings, redemption options, and benefits tend to be travel-related. While the Mastercard network issues a lot of co-branded travel-related cards (we’ll cover those shortly), the network does not host a large collection of general travel rewards credit cards compared to Visa or American Express.
You will, however, find worthy Mastercard travel rewards cards from which to select.
Frequent flyers will enjoy 3x ThankYou Points at restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets, air travel, and hotels.
The Citi Premier® Card is an excellent option for anyone looking for an all-around travel rewards credit card. The card helps you earn points fast with great 3x bonus categories such as restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, airfare, and hotels. Plus, it offers access to airline and hotel transfer partners, doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, and has a reasonable annual fee!
Travelers who are looking for a travel rewards credit card with a lower annual fee, bonus rewards on everyday and travel purchases, plus flexible redemption options, might want to look closer at the Citi Premier card.
Here’s why we like this Mastercard for travel rewards:
Complimentary lounge access, fourth-night free hotel stay, an annual travel credit, and strong point-earning make the Citi Prestige card a great option.
The information for the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The Citi Prestige® Card is an excellent all-around premium travel rewards card. With 4 different bonus categories to help you earn points, a $250 travel credit each year, complimentary lounge access, and more, there is tons to love about the Citi Prestige card.
Update: At this time, the Citi Prestige card is no longer available for new applicants.
Hot Tip: At this time, the Citi Prestige card is no longer available for new applicants.
The Citi Prestige card lost some of its luster when Citi removed a good portion of its travel benefits. However, the card still has a few sweet spots that can deliver value for the right traveler.
In addition to a generous welcome bonus and higher earnings on airfare, restaurants, hotels, and cruise lines, you’ll find the following benefits on this Citi-issued Mastercard:
Both of these cards come with shopping benefits such as purchase protection, extended warranty, and Shoprunner membership. The cards also have access to World Elite Mastercard Travel and Lifestyle Services that you can register for here.
There’s no shortage of cash-back-earning Mastercards. Here are a few of the most popular cards — some that do not even charge an annual fee.
The Freedom Flex card is an excellent no-annual-fee card that still earns big with 5% cash-back on travel and other bonus categories.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ sure does pack quite a punch — especially for a no-annual-fee card.
The Freedom Flex card is an incredible option for those looking for a well-rounded cash-back card, or a powerful point-earner when paired with a premium card in the Ultimate Rewards family.
Packed with more earnings at grocery stores and quarterly bonus categories, flexible redemption options, and benefits you can use, the no annual fee Freedom Flex card offers easily-recognized value.
We also like its collection of additional benefits:
Great card for the average spender with no specific focus category; worry-free cash-back earning on everything!
The Citi® Double Cash Card has long been one of the top cash-back credit cards on the market, and the card now has the ability to earn Citi ThankYou Points!
This means that cardholders of the Double Cash card will now earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. Cash back is earned in the form of ThankYou Points. This means each billing cycle, you will earn 1 ThankYou point per $1 spent on purchases and an additional ThankYou point for every $1 paid on your purchase balance as long as there is a corresponding balance in your Purchase Tracker.
Citi has turned the Double Cash card into a top choice for those who are looking for an everyday, no-fuss credit card.
For those who reach out for simplicity, the Double Cash card will match that requirement perfectly.
If you enjoy dining out, ordering carryout, or indulging in regular restaurant delivery, receiving unlimited cash-back on those purchases could make the Capital One Savor card a wallet necessity. Add in more bonus earnings at grocery stores and on entertainment and cash-back rewards will accumulate quickly.
Plus, there are additional reasons this Mastercard offers value:
For those business owners who have a qualifying existing relationship with Bank of America, the earnings offered on this World Mastercard could be a game-changer.
The card is best for small businesses, however, as there is a $50,000 limit on purchases for 3% and 2% bonus categories combined.
Here is an overview of the benefits offered by the card:
Hot Tip: Bank of America issues several personal and business credit cards, check out our complete overview here.
A low annual fee, a free checked bag, and tons of perks and discounts make this card valuable for business owners who travel.
With the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®, you get a card that gives you perks like boarding privileges, free checked bags, and discounts on inflight purchases, while also earning more miles for your next award redemption.
If you’re a business owner and American Airlines is your preferred airline, you’ll find value in an American Airlines-branded credit card that focuses earnings toward business expenses.
You’ll also find benefits that save you money and make your journey more comfortable when flying on the airline:
The perfect card for IHG fans, offering a free night every year, automatic Platinum Elite status, and your fourth night free on award stays.
If you regularly visit IHG hotels throughout the year, then the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card is probably a perfect card to have in your wallet.
The IHG Premier card offers a great bundle of perks and benefits, including automatic Platinum elite status, an annual free night certificate, and travel protections.
IHG loyalists will find tremendous value with the IHG Rewards Premier card. If you frequent IHG properties and enjoy instant elite status, free hotel nights, and a nice collection of travel benefits, the card can easily earn a place in your wallet.
American Airlines travelers will welcome the benefits offered on this AAdvantage-branded card that aligns well with the American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flyer program.
Both cards come with Mastercard and World Elite shopping benefits such as purchase protection, extended warranty, and Shoprunner membership. In addition, cardholders may register for World Elite Mastercard Travel and Lifestyle Services here.
If you’re a frequent Hawaiian Airlines traveler or just want to earn HawaiianMiles for that annual vacation to Hawaii, the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite card may offer some appealing attributes.
Best Western has nearly 4,700 properties in over 100 countries worldwide, so you’re sure to find convenient and affordable lodging when you travel. Cardholders of the Best Western Rewards Premium card earn big at hotel properties and receive complimentary elite status just for having the card.
The card does charge an annual fee of $89 but comes with these additional benefits:
You’ll generally need a good to excellent credit score to secure the cards mentioned previously in this article. But having no credit or even bad credit won’t eliminate the possibility of securing a card that utilizes the Mastercard network.
Here are several Mastercard options for those with no credit or bad credit:
Fortunately, there are so many options to choose from when you decide to start building credit or rebuilding poor credit. We’ve discussed the topic in-depth in several articles on secured cards, and cards for no credit or bad credit.
Knowing the differences between card processing networks can help you diversify your credit card holdings to be sure you always have a card the merchant will accept.
Having cards that use various networks is also imperative if you’re a frequent traveler as not all networks are widely accepted globally.
While Visa and Mastercard are the largest card networks, American Express and Discover are growing quickly and in third and fourth place respectively.
It’s worth noting that we’ve only mentioned a sampling of available Mastercards here, and even the cards we’ve featured may have additional benefits not listed. We have also abbreviated the benefit descriptions, so you’ll want to access any Guide to Benefits for complete information, including the applicable terms and conditions.
When comparing card options, pay close attention to the benefits offered as many Mastercards, especially those issued by Citi, do not offer a full collection of travel benefits.
Finally, finding the right Mastercard for you will involve determining your highest expenditures and making sure the card you’re considering will earn well on those purchases. The right card should also have an appropriate annual fee that matches your situation, redemption options that deliver value, and benefits that can be easily utilized.
The information regarding the the Bank of America® Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards credit card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Capital One Platinum Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information for the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Chase Freedom Flex℠ was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Best Western Rewards® Premium Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
Fortunately, both Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted globally, so selecting a card that utilizes either network will serve you well.
American Express and Discover are next in line when it comes to card network acceptance. Having a diverse selection of cards that utilize most of these networks, especially if you travel, can be a good strategy to ensure that you have a card that the merchant will accept.
Mastercard is a card network that serves as a link between the merchant from which you make a purchase to the financial institution that issued your credit card.
Mastercard only facilitates card transactions and does not issue credit cards.
However, Mastercard does offer benefits that the financial institution can choose to pass on to the cardholder.
Mastercard offers 3 levels of benefits — Standard core benefits, World benefits which are broader, and the highest level, World Elite benefits.
The bank that issues your credit card can select benefits from these options and pass those benefits on to the cardholder, or choose not to. The bank can also add its own benefits beyond what it is offered by Mastercard.
The best Mastercard for you may be different than the best Mastercard for another consumer.
Compare Mastercards based on to what extent the card you’re considering rewards your highest expenses, if the redemption options result in added value to your business or household, and if the offered benefits are ones you will actually use.
Additionally, you’ll want to select a Mastercard with an annual fee you’re comfortable paying.
There are so many Mastercards with varying benefits that no 1 card is the best for every consumer.
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