Mastercard — a third party payment processor — is a common credit card option from a large number of issuers. It differs very little from its main competitor, Visa, given that both are accepted in most countries.
The kind of Mastercard that is right for you depends on your particular requirements. Here’s a basic rundown of what Mastercard credit cards have to offer.
The Citi® Double Cash Card is one of few cards that offers a high cashback rate on all purchases. In addition, it comes with one of the longest intro APR periods on balance transfers that you can find in a cashback card.
Cash back. Earn 2 cash back on all purchases — 1 back when you make the purchases and an additional 1 back when you pay off your balance.
Intro APR period on balance transfers. Transfer your balance within four months when you open your account and use 0% intro APR period for 18 months. After the intro period is over, a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99% applies.
No annual fee. You get to earn cash back and save money on interest on balance transfers without paying an annual fee.
13.99% to 23.99% variable
Balance transfer APR
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Up to 2% cash back on purchases (1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay)
If you're stuck paying high interest rates on another credit card, consider applying for the Citi Simplicity® Card and move your balance to this card. This will help you pay off your balance without interest for close to two years.
Intro APR period on balance transfers. Move your balance within four months when you open your account and use 0% intro APR period on balance transfers for 18 months. After that, your rate reverts to 14.74% to 24.74% variable.
Intro APR period on purchases. You also get an intro APR period on purchases for 18 months from the day you open your account.
No annual fee. Save money on interest and without paying some of the card's fees including the annual fee.
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
Balance transfer APR
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
With the Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Union Strong Mastercard® Credit Card, you get to earn 5x points on up to 1,500 on categories that rotate each quarter, and 1x after that. You'll also get a longer intro APR period on balance transfers and overall low interest rates on transfers and purchases compared to similar cards.
Reward points. Earn 5x points on purchases on rotating categories each quarter. However, you're capped at 1,500 on these purchases per quarter. After that, your rate drops to 1x points, which is also the rate you earn points on all other purchases.
Signup bonus. Earn $150 cash bonus after you spend $1,200 within your first 90 days you open your account.
Intro APR period. Get 18 months of 0% intro APR period on balance transfers and 12 months of 0% intro APR period on purchases from the moment you open your account. After the intro period passes, your rate reverts to 9.25% variable.
0% intro for the first 12 months (then from 9.25% variable)
Balance transfer APR
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 9.25% variable)
$150 after spending $1,200 in the first 90 days
5x points in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each quarter, then 1x after that and on all other purchases
The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is one of the best cards you'll ever find for building credit. Unlike many of its kind, this card has no annual annual fee and, depending on your credit score, you can make a deposit as low as $49 and use a $200 credit line.
No annual fee. Build your credit without paying an annual fee. This may not seem like a useful perk, but most secured cards come with an annual fee of up to $49.
Potentially low deposit. This card may let you deposit $49 or $99 and still get a $200 credit line. However, this largely depends on your credit history and the information you provide in your application.
Access higher credit line. Make your first five monthly payments on time to get access to a higher credit line.
Balance transfer APR
How we picked our best cards
We compared all Mastercard credit cards and their features, including rewards, annual fee, signup bonus, intro APR period and the overall value to the cardholder. We chose the cards that offered the best combination of these perks.
What is a Mastercard?
A Mastercard refers to any credit card that uses the Mastercard network to process transactions between the issuing bank and the consumer. In essence, Mastercard doesn’t actually produce or issue credit cards. Instead, cards are produced by banks or other lenders such as American Express who partner with Mastercard to handle the processing behind the card.
Types of Mastercard credit cards
There are three types of Mastercard credit cards, each with different features. These include Standard, World and World Elite.
You’ll find these benefits in all Mastercard products:
Zero Liability protection. If your card is fraudulently used, you won’t be responsible for the unauthorized purchases. This protection applies to purchases made in-store or online, or via telephone, mobile device or ATM transaction.
ID Theft Protection. Get credit monitoring and notifications about suspicious activity. If your identity is compromised, Mastercard offers ID Theft Resolution with help from a specialist.
Mastercard Global Service. Call this service any time for help with a lost or stolen card, and you can get an emergency card replacement. If you need cash, Mastercard can help you locate a nearby ATM or get an emergency cash advance.
Depending on the issuer, you may also find these benefits:
Fuel Rewards. You can link your eligible Mastercard to Fuel Rewards, a program that offers savings on gas. Use your linked Mastercard at partner locations, including grocery stores, restaurants and entertainment venues. You can earn rewards without having to use your Fuel Rewards card.
Price protection. If you buy an eligible item and it has a price drop within 60 days, you’ll be reimbursed the difference between the new price and what you originally paid.
Extended warranty. For eligible items with warranties up to 12 months, your warranty will be doubled.
World Mastercards come with benefits from lower-level cards as well as these additional benefits:
Mastercard Luxury Hotels & Resorts. Book a stay at an eligible property in the Mastercard Luxury Hotels & Resorts portfolio, and you could enjoy benefits such as early check-in and late checkout, daily breakfast for two and special amenities.
Mastercard Hotel Stay Guarantee. If you book a hotel of at least three stars through Mastercard Travel & Lifestyle Services and it’s not to your satisfaction, a Lifestyle Manager will try to resolve the issue. If they can’t, they’ll look for comparable accommodations for you.
Mastercard Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee. If you book a prepaid hotel and find the same stay for less elsewhere, Mastercard will refund the difference.
Travel services. Travel advisers can help you plan your trip based on your preferences.
Mastercard Airport Concierge. An agent can meet you at the airport and escort you through departure, arrival and connecting processes. This service is available at 700+ destinations worldwide.
Travel packages. Book air, car, cruise and vacation packages to help you streamline your trip planning.
Priceless Cities. Access exclusive experiences in cities near you, such as culinary events, guided tours, sports events, classes and more.
Priceless Golf. Access exclusive golf experiences and offers with the PGA Tour. You’re also eligible for golf benefits through Golf Concierge Services.
Cell phone protection. Pay for your cell phone bill with your World Mastercard to get credit card cell phone insurance. You’ll receive $1,000 in coverage annually, for up to two claims per year and a maximum of $600 per claim. For each claim, you’ll pay a $50 deductible.
Depending on the issuer, you may find these additional benefits:
Concierge. Get help with buying gifts, obtaining tickets to special events, securing dinner reservations and other personal needs.
Upgraded price protection. Get price protection on eligible items for 120 days — an upgrade from the 60 days you’ll get with Standard Mastercards.
World Elite Mastercards include benefits from the lower-level cards and these additional benefits:
Lyft. Each month you pay for five eligible Lyft rides, you’ll earn a $10 Lyft credit.
Boxed. Earn 5% in Cash Rewards for each purchase you make at Boxed. You can earn a maximum of $500 in Cash Rewards per calendar year.
Fandango. For every two movie tickets you buy, you’ll get $5 off future movie tickets or at-home purchases.
World Elite Concierge. Access 24/7 concierge services, which can help you obtain hard-to-find gifts, secure tickets to shows and events, book dinner reservations and more.
Upgraded cell phone protection. Pay for your cell phone bill with your card, and you’ll receive up to $1,000 in cell phone coverage annually with a two-claim-per-year maximum. With a World Elite Mastercard, you can make claims up to $800 each, as opposed to the $600 max with a World Mastercard. There’s a $50 deductible per claim.
Other common Mastercard benefits
Most Mastercard products offer these additional benefits:
Global acceptance Mastercard is accepted in hundreds of countries and millions of locations around the world. You can use your Mastercard wherever the Mastercard symbol is displayed, including at ATMs, credit card readers in local shops, restaurants and online.
Mastercard PayPass Almost all newly issued Mastercard credit cards make use of this technology that enables cardholders to make contactless payments for purchases under $100.
Emergency Services You can contact Mastercard’s customer service team at 800-627-8372 to help you with the reporting of lost or stolen cards and it can provide emergency replacement cards and cash advances. It can also help you find the nearest Mastercard ATM and it provides information related to your account.
Currency conversion When you use your Mastercard overseas, you don’t have to worry about making confusing currency conversion calculations because it pays the merchant in the local currency and bills you in USD.
One key reason to pick a Mastercard is that it’s accepted virtually anywhere that takes credit cards. Depending on which version you have, you’ll also find standard benefits to complement those from your card issuer.
Fees. The fees you end up paying depend on the credit card issuer you choose to go with as well as the card you get. A basic no-frills Mastercard might require you to pay little or no annual fees compared to a gold or platinum Mastercard that may have a higher annual fee.
Interest rate offers. Compare Mastercard products based on any promotional interest rates that can help you cut costs with either 0% purchase or balance transfer offers.
Credit card issuer. As they determine many of the features and fees that come with the card, it’s important to consider which company will issue the card when comparing your options.
Rewards. You can find several Mastercard credit cards linked to various rewards and frequent flyer programs. This is something you should consider if you’re looking to earn points as you spend.
Complimentary insurance. Some Mastercard products offer complimentary insurance including extended warranties, price protection, Mastercard ID Theft Protection, global services, travel protection and more.
Mastercard began operations in the late 1940s, at a time when a number of American banks gave customers specially issued paper they could use in the form of cash at local establishments. Mastercard issued its first batch of credit cards in California, to serve as direct competition to the Bank of America card that later went on to become Visa.
With time, a number of franchises evolved in several cities and in 1966, one such group formed the Interbank Card Association (ICA). No single bank dominated the running of this organization and member committees came into effect for this very purpose. ICA went on to become Mastercard in 1979.
Visa vs. Mastercard
There isn’t a huge difference between the features offered by Visa and Mastercard, as most of your card features will largely depend on the issuer. However, it always helps to compare your Visa and Mastercard options since there are a few small differences.
You can apply for Mastercard credit cards through the issuing institutions online or in-branch. But make sure you’ve compared your options and confirmed that you meet the eligibility requirements before applying.
If you begin the application process with all the required information nearby, the application should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes to complete. After the card issuer approves your application, it can take up to 10 business days for you to receive your card.
You must be at least 18 years old, a permanent resident of the US and you will likely need to have a good credit history.
This depends on the credit card issuer. Your options can include cash, checks or online payments.
Steven Dashiell is a credit cards staff writer at Finder. He's worked on over 150 Finder articles to help readers embrace and maximize credit cards. Steven has nearly a decade of research and reporting experience, and has also been a reporter and editor for several healthcare newsletters.
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