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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 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 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 ExpressMastercard
Extended warrantyxcheckmark
Purchase protectionxcheckmark
Return protectioncheckmarkcheckmark
Price protectionxcheckmark
Car rental insurancecheckmarkcheckmark
Global Assist Hotline/Mastercard Global Servicecheckmarkcheckmark
Roadside assistancexcheckmark
Travel accident insurancexcheckmark
Zero liability for unauthorized purchasescheckmarkcheckmark

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.

American Express and Mastercard credit cards pros and cons

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. (Terms apply, see rates & fees).
  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers one of the highest cashback rates on the market. (Terms apply, see rates & fees).
  • Membership Rewards points can be especially valuable if you transfer them to travel partners.

Cons

  • Some products require you 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 more credit cards

If you want to know more about how Amex cards stack up to the competition, check out how they compare to Visa cards. And if you’re curious about their performance compared to Discover cards, compare the pros and cons with our guide.

Compare American Express and Mastercard credit cards

1 - 5 of 23
Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
3% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%; 3% on U.S. online retail purchases, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%; 3% at U.S. gas stations on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 16.99% to 27.99% variable)
$0
Earn a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months. This is a higher-than-average welcome offer for a card with no annual fee. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
6% on select U.S. streaming services, 3% on transit and U.S. gas stations, 6% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on other eligible purchases (redeem as statement credit)
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 16.99% to 27.99% variable)
$95
Earn a $350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months. Having 6 months to earn a welcome offer is a rare benefit as most cards give you only 3. Terms apply, see rates & fees
American Express® Gold Card
4x Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.; 4x points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x), 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com
18.99% to 25.99% variable APR for Pay Over Time Feature
$250

Rose Gold is here to stay. Card Members can choose between a Gold or Rose Gold Card.

Earn up to 4x points on select purchases and enjoy a bevy of travel perks with this upper-mid tier travel card. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Hilton Honors American Express Card
7x Hilton Honors Bonus Points on eligible direct Hilton purchases, 5x points for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, 3x on all other eligible purchases
18.74% to 27.74% variable
$0
Earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, you can earn up to $100 in Statement Credits on eligible purchases at any of the Hilton family hotels in the first 12 months. Terms apply, see rates & fees
The Platinum Card® from American Express
5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 5x points on directly-booked flights on up to $500,000 annually, then 1x points after that and on other eligible purchases
See Pay Over Time APR
$695
100,000 points after spending $6,000 in your first 6 months. Terms apply, see rates & fees
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Compare up to 4 providers

1 - 5 of 16
Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards for Good Credit
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards for Good Credit
1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply)
28.49% variable
$0
Earn the same 1.5% cash back on every purchase and $0 annual fee as the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, apply with good credit.
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards for Good Credit
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards for Good Credit
3% cashback on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores; 5% back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 8% back on Capital One Entertainment and tickets at Vivid Seats; 1% on all other purchases
28.49% variable
$0
Made for people with good credit to enjoy the same $0 annual fee and rewards as the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores, 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases and tickets at Vivid Seats, and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply)
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 17.99% to 27.99% variable)
$0
Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases and tickets at Vivid Seats.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply)
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 17.99% - 27.99% variable)
$0
More than an unlimited 1.5% cash back card: you'll also earn 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply).
Capital One Platinum Credit Card
N/A
28.49% variable
$0
Pay no annual fee, be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
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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

What is the longest intro APR available?
As of this writing, Mastercard has the longest balance transfer and purchase intro APR periods between the two issuers with 18 months.

What other card networks are good for international travel?
Visa is an excellent option. Like Mastercard, it is accepted internationally more than Amex and Discover.

Which Amex products require you pay your balance in full each month?
Some of the provider’s products allow you to pay your balance over time.

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