American Express vs. Mastercard: Which is best for me? | finder.com
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American Express vs. Mastercard: Which is best for me?

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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 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.
  • Rewards.
    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.

What are some differences between Amex and Mastercard?

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.

Compare two cards: Amex vs. Mastercard

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership.
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on your purchases.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 15.24% to 26.24%.
  • $0 plan fees for plans set up during your first 15 months of card membership with Plan It®, a feature that lets you split up big purchases into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • You spoke, we listened. Over 1.6 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms apply.
  • Read Rates & Fees
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HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on all purchases.
  • Earn an Introductory 3% cash back on all purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, up to the first $10,000 in purchases
  • 10% anniversary bonus on all cash rewards earned once a year.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable APR.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $0 liability for unauthorized purchases.
  • Terms apply.
  • See rates & fees
  • Read Rates & Fees
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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.

American Express Mastercard
Extended warranty checkmark checkmark
Purchase protection checkmark checkmark
Return protection checkmark checkmark
Price protection x checkmark
Car rental insurance checkmark checkmark
Global Assist Hotline/Mastercard Global Service checkmark checkmark
Roadside assistance checkmark checkmark
Travel accident insurance checkmark checkmark
Zero liability for unauthorized purchases checkmark checkmark

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.
  • Concierge.
    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

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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

Pros

  • 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).

Cons

  • 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

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual Fee
7x points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
17.99% to 26.99% variable
$0
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
5x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases
N/A
$550
Get 5x Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5x points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Rates & fees
2x miles at US restaurants and on direct Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
17.99% to 26.99% variable
$0
Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
$0
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
See Rates & Fees
$250
35,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months. Rates & fees

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual Fee
3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases
0% for the first 12 months (then 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable)
$0
Earn 3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases. See Rates and Fees.
N/A
0% for the first 18 months (then 13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% variable)
$0
An 18 months 0% intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1% for cash back
17.24% variable
$195
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1.5% for cash back
17.24% variable
$495
Receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare or cash back
17.24% variable
$995
Earn 2% point value when redeemed for airfare or cash back through the Luxury rewards program.

Compare up to 4 providers

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.
  • Acceptance.
    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:

Bottom line

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.

Frequently asked questions

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