You're probably familiar with the Mastercard brand. Whether it's from commercials on TV or owning a Mastercard, the brand has a long history in the credit card industry.

Mastercard is a payment processor, not a card issuer, so you can't sign up for a new card through the company. Regardless, there are plenty of quality Mastercard credit cards on the market, including many that offer valuable rewards and perks that rival any other card. 

What to Look for in a Mastercard Credit Card

Finding the right Mastercard is no different than trying to find any other credit card. Here are some of the factors to consider as you research the best Mastercard credit cards. 

Fees: Always pay attention to a card's fee structure including whether it charges an annual fee. Other fees include foreign transaction fees, late fees, and balance transfer fees. 

Rewards: For most consumers, it's a card's rewards that draw them in. That's because cash back rewards and welcome bonuses offer value in ways other benefits can't. Pay attention to the card's rewards structure to ensure you find a card that fits your needs. 

APR: The annual percentage rate (APR) determines the interest charge (including fees) you end up paying if you don't pay your balance in full. The card may come with an APR range based on an applicant's creditworthiness. 

Card benefits: Credit cards often come with other benefits and perks beyond earning rewards. Popular benefits include travel perks, free credit score access, purchase protections, and more. 

Mastercard Credit Cards At a Glance

 Best For Annual FeeCredit         Welcome Bonus
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Mastercard®Frugal Travelers$0Good to Excellent          10,000 Bonus Miles and $50 Statement Credit
Citi® Double Cash CardFlat-Rate Cash Back$0Good to ExcellentN/A
Indigo® Mastercard®Bad/No Credit$0, $59, or $75 your first year, $99 after thatBad, Poor CreditN/A
Citi Simplicity® CardBalance Transfer$0Good to ExcellentN/A
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit CardNo Annual Fee$0Fair $200 Cash Bonus

5 Best Mastercard Credit Cards for 2022

1. American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Mastercard®: Best for Frequent Travelers

Other Mastercard cards earn travel rewards, but the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Mastercard® does not charge an annual fee. In addition to a sizable welcome bonus offer, the card also earns rewards on American Airlines purchases and at the grocery store. 

The card doesn't come with many extra travel perks, so it's not the best card for frequent travelers. It's great for American Airlines or travel fans who want to earn travel rewards without paying out of pocket. MileUp cardholders enjoy 25% off inflight food and beverage purchases.

Intro Offer: 
10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and $50 statement credit 

Annual Fee: $0

Regular APR: 15.99% to 24.99%

Intro APR: N/A

Highlights:

  • Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $500 on your card in the first three months. 

  • 2X miles on American Airlines purchases.

  • 2X miles at grocery stores.

  • 1X miles on all other purchases.

  • No cap on the number of miles you can earn.

  • Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights.


Want more travel cards? We've found the best travel rewards credit cards for 2022.

2. Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for Cash Back Rewards

Citi® Double Cash Card is a popular cash back card and our pick for the best cash back Mastercard. We attribute that to its unique cash back model. Cardholders can earn up to 2% cash back — 1% cash back when you make purchases, plus an additional 1% cash back once you pay for those purchases. 

This Citi card doesn't come with a welcome offer or earn rewards, but it does come with one of the better intro 0% APR offers on balance transfers we've seen. There's also no annual fee to pay with the Citi® Double Cash Card. 

Intro Offer: N/A

Annual Fee: $0

Regular APR: 13.99% to 23.99%

Intro APR: Introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months.

Highlights:

  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% once you pay for those purchases.

  • To earn cash back, pay (at least) the minimum due on time.

  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. (Note: Balance transfers do not earn cash back).

  • No annual fee.


3. Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®: Best for Bad/No Credit

The Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® doesn't earn rewards and offers few perks. What it does offer is a chance to build or rebuild your credit. First, you can get approved for the card even with a bankruptcy on your credit report. Also, you can prequalify for the card without negatively impacting your credit score. 

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® monthly payments are reported to all three major credit bureaus. As you use the card and pay it off responsibly, you should see your credit score start to rise. 

Intro Offer: N/A

Annual Fee: $0, $59, or $75 ($75 your first year, $99 after that)

Regular APR: 24.9%

Intro APR: N/A

Highlights:

  • Up to a $300 initial credit limit. 

  • 1% foreign transaction fees. 

  • Pre-qualification is available with no impact on your credit score.

  • Previous bankruptcy allowed.

  • Annual fee of $0, $59, or $75 ($75 your first year, $99 after that).


4. Citi Simplicity® Card: Best for Balance Transfers

The Citi Simplicity® Card is a basic balance transfer credit card. It doesn't earn rewards. Instead, it offers one of the best introductory APR offers on balance transfers among Mastercard credit cards. Cardholders receive 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months from account opening. There's also a 0% APR on new purchases for the first 12 months. 

The Simplicity Card is also the only Citi card without late fees or penalty APR rates. 

Intro Offer: N/A

Annual Fee: $0

Regular APR: 14.74% to 24.74%

Intro APR: Introductory 0% APR for 21 months from card opening for balance transfers and 12 months for new purchases. 

Highlights:

  • Balance transfer fees of $5 or 5% of the transfer amount, whichever is higher. 

  • No penalty APR.

  • No late fees.

  • $0 annual fee.


Want a balance transfer? Check out the top 4 transfer cards for 2022.

5. Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for No Annual Fee

It's nice to earn cash back rewards, especially when there's no annual fee attached. That's what you get with the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. Plus, you can earn a $200 cash bonus by meeting a rather low spending requirement. 

The card also earns unlimited cash back in popular spending categories like grocery stores, dining, entertainment, and select streaming services. The best part is that rewards never expire (as long as the account is open), so you can redeem them anytime. 

Intro Offer: $200 Cash Bonus

Annual Fee: $0

Regular APR: 14.99% to 24.99%

Intro APR: 0% introductory APR for 15 months on new purchases and balance transfers.

Highlights:

  • Earn a $200 cash bonus after spending $500 on your card in the first three months.

  • Unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services, and grocery stores.

  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

  • No foreign transaction fees. 

  • Extended warranty coverage. 

  • Travel accident insurance. 

  • Complimentary concierge service. 

  • Free access to TransUnion® and Experian credit scores.

  • $0 annual fee.


Is Mastercard a Card Issuer?

Mastercard doesn't issue any credit cards. Instead, it is a credit card payment network. Mastercard is a technology company that provides payment services for banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. 

When a consumer swipes a credit card, several companies work together to make the transaction happen. The card reader sends account info to the merchant's financial institution. They work through Mastercard to get authorization for payment from the credit card issuer. If authorized, Mastercard sends the money to the merchant's financial institution. It sounds complex, but this process takes seconds to complete, thanks to technology. 

Mastercard vs Visa

Mastercard and Visa are the largest networks in the payment processing space. While Visa is larger based on revenue and payment volume ($21.8 billion in total net revenue and $8.8 trillion payment volume in 2020), Mastercard more than holds its own in the market ($15.3 billion in total net revenue and $6.3 trillion in payment volume in 2020). 

Both payment processors are widely accepted by merchants worldwide. Mastercard and Visa work with various banks, credit unions, and financial institutions to provide various payment products and services, including credit cards, debit cards, and prepaid cards. 

Does Mastercard or Visa Matter?

Consumers shouldn't notice much difference, if any, with the payment processing when making purchases. The choice of payment processor is seldom a factor when choosing a credit card. Both companies have long-standing reputations for providing quality payment services. 

With most credit cards, the bulk of the card's perks are offered through the credit card issuer, not Mastercard or Visa. Some Mastercard and Visa credit cards offer additional perks, though. 

Want rewards? Check out the best rewards credit cards for 2022.

Common Mastercard Benefits

As mentioned above, many of a credit card's benefits come from the card issuer, not the payment processor. However, some card benefits come directly from being a Mastercard. There are three benefit levels available through Mastercard: 

    •    Standard

    •    World

    •    World Elite


Each level builds on the benefits offered, with World Elite being the highest benefit level. 

Standard benefits that come with all Mastercard credit cards include identity theft protection, zero fraud liability, and Mastercard Global Service. 

World status adds other perks like cell phone protection, luxury hotel benefits, airport concierge, and partner benefits with companies like DoorDash, Lyft, and Hello Fresh. 

World Elite status offers cell phone protection with higher claim limits, concierge service, and Fandango discounts.

Summary 

You can find many valuable Mastercard credit cards on the market, including the ones listed above. That said, you shouldn't base your decision on whether a credit card has the Mastercard logo on it.

Don't Miss: The Best Credit Cards for 2022

References:

https://www.citi.com/credit-cards/aadvantage-mile-up-credit-card
https://www.capitalone.com/credit-cards/savorone-dining-rewards/
https://annualreport.visa.com/financials/default.aspx
 

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Editorial Disclosure

All of the opinions expressed herein are the author's alone, and not those of any bank, brokerage, credit card issuer, lender, insurance company, outside financial institution, or any other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post or any other third parties.