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American Express vs. Mastercard: Which is best for me?
Compare annual fees, welcome offers and other perks of these network cards.
Deciding between American Express and Mastercard is tough because they offer a wide range of cards. From low- to high-tier cards, welcome offers and annual fees, these cards work to meet the needs of all card users.
What's in this guide?
What features and services do American Express and Mastercard offer?
Amex and Mastercard products have similar key features. For example:
- Annual fees.
Choose from cards with no annual fees to cards that cost hundreds of dollars a year.
Earn cashback and travel rewards with The Platinum Card® from American Express and Citi® Double Cash Card.
- Welcome offers.
Unlike Discover, both providers typically have standard welcome offers if you spend a certain amount within a designated time period.
- Intro APR.
While Amex has cards with fairly strong intro APRs, Mastercard has the best intro APR on the market.
While Amex and Mastercard offer many of the same standard benefits, they each come with their own smaller, additional perks. There are notable differences, such as:
- Unlike Amex, Mastercard offers price protection for its cards.
- Unlike Mastercard, Amex offers purchase and return protection for most of its cards.
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Compare the standard benefits of American Express and Mastercard credit cards
Check out the table below to see standard benefits. Though you might see a green check mark in a few spaces, you might not find the respective perk in your chosen card. Benefits vary based on card issuer.
Hover over the symbols to see details about each perk.
|Car rental insurance|
|Global Assist Hotline/Mastercard Global Service|
|Travel accident insurance|
|Zero liability for unauthorized purchases|
Additional benefits you may find with higher-tier cards
With more expensive Amex cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express and American Express® Gold Card and Mastercard’s World Elite products you’ll get the following benefits:
- Baggage insurance.
When you pay for an eligible trip with your card, you may be reimbursed if your baggage is damaged, lost or stolen.
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance.
When you pay for an eligible trip with your card, you may be reimbursed for nonrefundable trip costs if your itinerary changes for covered reasons.
Call Concierge for help securing dining reservations, finding tickets to popular shows, booking travel and more.
Pros and cons of American Express and Mastercard credit cards
Consider these advantages and drawbacks to each network before making your decision.
American Express credit cards: Pros and cons
- The Platinum Card® from American Express offers complimentary access to Centurion airport lounges.
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers one of the highest cashback rates on the market.
- Membership Rewards points can be especially valuable if you transfer them to travel partners.
- Some products are charge cards, meaning you have to pay off your balances in full each month. This could be a downside if you like paying off your balances over time.
- Not as widely accepted as Mastercard or Visa.
- May require a higher credit score and annual income.
Mastercard credit cards: Pros and cons
- More card options with different reward structures.
- More widely accepted — domestically and worldwide — than Amex cards.
- More card options that are easier to qualify for — for example, secured credit cards.
- Certain cards offer market-leading intro APRs (18 to 21 months).
- Benefits vary significantly among cards and card issuers. You may need to dig into each card’s terms or contact the provider to learn which benefits you’ll receive.
- Relatively few cobranded hotel and airline cards. This may not be ideal if you’re a frequent traveler.
Compare American Express and Mastercard credit cards
Consider these factors to choose the right network
Amex or Mastercard?
There are fewer differences between Amex and Mastercard than there are between Amex and Discover. Because these networks are so similar, it’s difficult to make a general verdict as one may fit your specific needs better than the other.
To make your own verdict, take a look at the specific contrasts that might stand out depending on your tastes.
A few notables include:
- Intro APRs.
Consider Mastercard for top-notch intro APRs.
- Airfare and hotel rewards.
Amex offers stronger rewards with cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express.
- Travel products.
Amex is particularly strong in travel, offering a few attractive hotel cards. It’s the best choice if you want a cobranded Delta card.
- American Airlines cobranded cards.
Consider Mastercard if you want a cobranded American Airlines card.
Mastercard has a significant lead in merchant acceptance, especially abroad.
Best of both worlds
With many great products from each provider, it can be easy to mix and match credit cards. Here are a few ideas:
- Pick up the American Express® Gold Card for excellent rewards at restaurants, US supermarkets and on eligible flights. For the rest of your spending, use the superb Citi® Double Cash Card.
- Use the Citi Simplicity® Card for one of the best balance transfer intro APRs on the market. Use the American Express Cash Magnet® Card for solid cash back on every purchase.
- Earn great rewards on select travel with the Citi Prestige® Credit Card. For groceries and gas, use the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.
While it may be difficult to choose between Amex and Mastercard because they have so many similarities, looking at the differences between specific cards may help you determine which issuer is right for you. Both Amex and Mastercard offer some products that are replicated nowhere else.
If you’re not sure either provider is right for you, look into credit cards from other companies.
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