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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.

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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.

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
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
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% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0
Get 3% cash back on groceries on up to $6,000 annually (then 1%) with no annual fee. This is a simple and effective rewards card. Rates & fees
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$95
Perfect for families: Get up to 6% on everyday purchases and a welcome offer worth $250. This heavy-hitter rewards card has uncontested value. Rates & fees
American Express® Gold Card
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
$250
Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $350 with this upper-mid tier travel card. Rates & fees
American Express Cash Magnet® Card
1.5% cash back on all purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0
With 1.5% back on everything and a 15 months intro APR on purchases, this no-annual-fee rewards card makes it simple to earn more rewards. Rates & fees
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants and at US supermarkets and 1x miles on all other purchases
15.74% to 24.74% variable
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
With a welcome offer worth up to $600, up to 2x miles on select purchases, and assorted Delta perks, this is a strong choice for Delta fans. Rates & fees
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Chase Freedom Flex℠
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter (then 1%), 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
$0
Get up to 5% cashback in rotating and newly added everyday categories. The refreshed Freedom Flex card has lots of earning potential.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
N/A
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
$0
An impressive 18 months intro APR on balance transfers and purchases, as well as no annual fee make this one of the top 0% APR cards available.
Citi® Double Cash Card
Up to 2% cash back on purchases (1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay)
13.99% to 23.99% variable
$0
Earn up to 2% on every purchase with no annual fee. This is the highest flat-rate cashback card on the market.
Luxury Card Mastercard® Titanium Card™
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1% for cash back
14.99% variable
$195
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
Luxury Card Mastercard® Black Card™
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1.5% for cash back
14.99% variable
$495
Receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
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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.

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