All information about the Citi Secured Mastercard and the Chase Freedom Flex has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.
Best Mastercard credit cards compared
|Credit Card||Best For:||Annual Fee||Review Score|
|Citi Rewards+® Card||Everyday use||$0||3.9 / 5|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®||American Airlines flyers||$450||4.3 / 5|
|IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card||IHG hotel points||$99||4.7 / 5|
|My GM Rewards Card||GM fans||$0||3.9 / 5|
|Brex 30 Card||Businesses building credit||$0||3.6 / 5|
|Capital One Spark Miles for Business||Frequent international travelers||$95 (waived first year)||4.2 / 5|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||Credit card beginners||$0||4.1 / 5 |
|Citi Premier® Card||General hotel stays||$95||4.7 / 5|
|Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||Frequent entertainers||$0||4.9 / 5 |
|Citi Custom Cash℠ Card||Unpredictable spenders||$0||4.5 / 5 |
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card||Streamlined rewards||$0||3.7 / 5 |
|Citi® Secured Mastercard®||No annual fee for beginners||$0||3.1 / 5|
Editor’s picks: Mastercard credit card details
Citi Rewards+® Card: Best for everyday use
Best Features: This card is packed with rewards. Earn 2X points at supermarkets and gas stations (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1X), plus 1X points on all other purchases. The best part – this card rounds up your rewards to the nearest 10 on every purchase, meaning even a $1.29 pack of mints will earn 10 points.
You can also earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,500 within the first three months of account opening, worth $250 in gift cards when redeemed at Thankyou.com.
Biggest Drawbacks: Your earnings in the 2X categories are limited to $6,000 in purchases annually – any further spending will earn the 1X rate. Also, the points-earning rewards structure can make it hard to gauge your earnings ahead of time.
Alternatives: Shoppers who want savings but don’t have a high grocery store budget would benefit more from another rewards card like the Citi Custom Cash Card.
Bottom Line: With a unique and generous rewards structure and several useful features, anyone committed to using their credit card on even the smallest of purchases can benefit from the Citi Rewards+ card.
Read more about the Citi Rewards+ Card or jump back to this card’s offer details.
Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: Best for American Airlines flyers
Best Features: This card comes with a generous sign-up bonus and cardholders can enjoy elite perks like free lounge access (with American Airlines reciprocal lounges), free Admirals Club membership with lounge access (a value of up to $650), and credits for expedited security screening. Also, your miles are unlimited and won’t expire as long as you keep the card active every 18 months.
Biggest Drawbacks: Though it has the rewards to back it up, there’s a $450 annual fee. Also, there are blackout dates on some rewards and other restrictions when it comes to redeeming travel.
Alternatives: If you don’t often fly with American, this card’s $450 annual fee is enough reason to reroute to other travel credit card options. Those who find themselves more focused on hotels than flights may find the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card to be more rewarding — and more affordable at $99.
Bottom Line: Loyal American Airlines flyers who want a more high-end experience can squeeze a lot of value out of this card.
Read more about the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard or jump back to this card’s offer details.
IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card: Best for IHG hotel points
Best Features: IHG Rewards Club members can earn up to 26 points per dollar on their IHG hotel stays. On top of that, cardholders get 5X points at gas stations, travel and restaurants, plus 3X points on all other purchases.
You’ll also enjoy numerous travel and consumer perks like a free rewards night each card anniversary, credit of up to $100 for Global Entry / TSA PreCheck every four years and cellphone protection.
Biggest Drawbacks: The card comes with a $99 annual fee, which, unfortunately, is not waived in the first year. Also, the card is limited in its rewards redemption – hotel stays are the only worthwhile options.
Alternatives: If you’re a traveler who likes to keep their options open, a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card might be a better fit.
Bottom Line: Frequent IHG guests and travelers in the market for a hotel rewards card could check in to a rewarding experience here.
Read more about the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card or jump back to this card’s offer details.
My GM Rewards Card: Best for GM fans
Best Features: As long as you’re okay with redeeming points to offset GM car payments or eligible parts, service and repairs at a GM dealership, this card’s rewards rate is hard to beat.
Its rewards rate on general purchases is one of the best available in the market and its redemption options are unique and valuable if you’re trying to bring down the cost of your car payment or service and repairs. While the target audience for this card is small, it serves that group’s needs incredibly well.
Biggest Drawbacks: Points won’t offer much value unless you redeem them toward a GM car payment or eligible parts and service at GM dealerships. If you’re looking for more flexible points you can use for cash back, travel or more, a general rewards card would be a better fit.
Alternatives: The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card can be a good go-to card for less common purchases. While it can feel like a step down rewards-wise, it’s a good option if you want to earn rewards on a wider range of purchases. Plus, you get perks like 5 percent back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, extended warranties, no transaction fees and 24-hour travel assistance.
Bottom Line: Current or aspiring GM car owners or lessees who don’t mind redeeming points toward car payments or eligible parts and service at GM dealerships.
Read more about the My GM Rewards Card or jump back to this card’s offer details.
Brex 30 Card: Best for businesses building credit
Best Features: Brex offers a whole slew of discounts on services like Slack, Zoom, Google Ads, Amazon Web Services and other perks that small business owners and start-ups would certainly find useful.
The streamlined application process requires no personal credit checks. Credit lines are higher than many business cards. Members can redeem points on travel with an extensive range of airline partners at a ratio of 1:1.
Biggest Drawbacks: Businesses can add up to five employee cards at no charge, though any additional employee card incurs a $5 monthly charge which could add up for larger teams. Another potential downside: Most of the discounts on business services expire after the first year.
Alternatives: A flat-rate business credit card like the Capital One Spark Miles Business might be better suited for some small business owners’ expenses and doesn’t lose its long-term value as steeply as the Brex 30.
Bottom Line: This card is a great match for start-ups and small businesses with a minimum of $100,000 in a corporate account (or $50,000 if professionally managed) but limited credit history.
Read more about the Brex 30 card or jump back to this card’s offer details.
Capital One Spark Miles for Business: Best for frequent international business travelers
Best Features: With an unlimited rewards rate of 2X miles on all purchases, plus a generous 50,000 mile welcome bonus (after spending $4,500 within the first three months of membership) this is an excellent flat-rate rewards card for business travelers on the go.
There are no minimum requirements on mile redemptions, no expiration dates and no blackouts. Miles can be transferred to over 15 airline partners worldwide.
Biggest Drawbacks: While the network of airline partners is impressive, it includes only one domestic carrier.
Alternatives: If your business isn’t often on-the-go or you don’t travel for leisure, there are plenty of business credit cards that can provide more value for small business owners. The Brex 30 offers major discounts on business services like Slack, Zoom and more while having an extensive list of airline partners, handy for the occasional business trip.
Bottom Line: Small business owners who regularly travel abroad will find a lot to love about this flat-rate business card.
Read more about the Capital One Spark Miles for Business or jump back to this card’s offer details.
Citi Double Cash: Best for credit card beginners
Best Features: The Citi Double Cash may not have the longest list of perks, but the unlimited 2 percent cash back (1% cash back on everything and an additional 1% cash back once purchases are paid off) can be very rewarding. There’s also the bonus of a long intro APR for balance transfers as well as flexible redemptions for gift cards, travel and more.
Biggest Drawbacks: For those looking to optimize their cash back to the fullest, the Citi Double Cash may be too simplistic. Along with no welcome bonus, it’s also thin on perks outside of its intro APR offer, making it less ideal for more experienced cardholders.
Alternatives: The Citi Rewards+ Card is a good step up from the Citi Double Cash without adding an annual fee. It keeps the same streamlined rewards rate as the Citi Double Cash but rewards you without an extra step. It also has an accessible welcome bonus.
Bottom Line: Cardholders who want to focus more on developing good credit habits and take advantage of an intro APR offer will find value in the Citi Double Cash card.
Read more about the Citi Double Cash Card or jump back to this card’s offer details.
Citi Premier Card: Best for general hotel stays
Best Features: Those looking for a travel card will find the Citi Premier Card to be a good option. You get a rewards rate of 3X points per $1 spent on popular categories like air travel, hotels, restaurants and supermarkets. Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10X points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel portal through June 30, 2024. Paired with no foreign transaction fee and the yearly $100 hotel credit, this is perfect for people looking for a card for their next vacation.
Biggest Drawbacks: If you’re someone that takes advantage of travel partners when using your card, the Citi Premier may fall short of expectations. While you can transfer points to airline partners, there are currently no partnerships with major domestic airlines or any hotels. It also lacks travel insurance benefits that can be found on other mid-tier travel cards, which makes it difficult to justify the $95 annual fee.
Alternatives: Though the annual fee is steep at $450, the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is a good choice for the frequent flyer and fan of American Airlines. With this card, you get access to the airline’s airport lounge, a solid welcome bonus and a chance to earn anniversary bonus points.
Bottom Line: Anyone looking for a mid-tier travel card that focuses on hotel stays over flights can find good value in the Citi Premier Card.
Read more about the Citi Premier Card or jump back to this card’s offer details.
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for frequent entertainers
Best Features: The Capital One SavorOne Cash is a great choice for those who look forward to a night out or entertaining guests. Earn 3 percent cash back on categories like dining and streaming services as well as 8 percent Capital One Experience purchases. There are no cash back or redemption limits or expiration on rewards so you can earn and redeem at your own pace.
Biggest Drawbacks: Most of the rewards categories are centered on occasional experiences or steady categories, making it hard to maximize on your rewards. For those looking to be rewarded in categories like gas or online shopping may need to look elsewhere.
Alternatives: While great for entertaining, the Capital One SavorOne does little to reward frequent travelers. In this case, the Citi Premier Card may be a step up in both travel and everyday expenses. It rewards you for air travel and hotels outside of those booked through an issuer’s rewards portal as well as dining and supermarkets.
Bottom Line: Cardholders looking for their next experience or night out will find excellent value with this card and will enjoy that there are no limitations through spending caps or blackout dates.
Read our Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.
Citi Custom Cash: Best for unpredictable spenders
Best Features: The Citi Custom Cash card takes the guessing game out of where you get rewards by automatically applying 5 percent cash back to the cardholder’s top spending category each billing cycle (up to $500, then 1 percent). It’s especially rewarding if you have other Citi cards, allowing you to pool your Citi ThankYou points together to max out on rewards.
Biggest Drawbacks: While the boosted rewards rate is great, the limit is quite tight for this card. Unless you’re using this card for specific purchases, the spending limit can be easily reached in categories like groceries or gas. You also only get rewarded 5 percent for one category per billing cycle. So, no matter how close you get to $500 in other categories, they’ll all only be rewarded 1 percent cash back.
Alternatives: If you’re looking for higher rewards all around, the Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card may be a better choice for you. It gives 3 percent cash back on popular categories such as travel, dining and entertainment and 5 percent on select travel with no spending limits. If you spend money in any of these categories, you’ll already earn more than you would with the Citi Custom Cash.
Bottom Line: The Citi Custom Cash is great if you find your expenses changing month to month and can’t find a card with categories that quite fit your spending habits. However, if you know when and where your expenses will happen, another card may be better.
Read more about the Citi Custom Cash Card or jump back to this card’s offer details.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for streamlined rewards
Best Features: For those who are looking for a streamlined car, it can’t get any sleeker than with the Capital One Quicksilver. Earn unlimited cash back on all eligible purchases with 1.5 percent flat rate and enjoy additional perks like 24/7 travel assistance and extended warranties on eligible items.
Biggest Drawbacks: While many can appreciate the flat-rate aspect of the card, there are more rewarding ones available, earning 2 percent instead of 1.5 percent.
Alternatives: If you still want flat-rate cash back but just want a little bit more in rewards, the Citi Double Cash Card is a great fit. It has a higher rewards rate and comes with a long intro APR offer on balance transfers, although you will face a balance transfer fee of 3 percent or $5, whichever is higher.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a card that balances a straightforward rewards program with good perks and benefits, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card can be a good, no-annual-fee option.
Read more about the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card or jump back to this card’s offer details.
Citi® Secured Mastercard®: Best no-annual-fee card for beginners
Best Features: A rarity among most secured cards, this option comes with no annual fee. This makes it possible to pay down your balance in full every month and build your credit score, all while avoiding the extra cost.
Your initial credit limit will be equal to your security deposit ($200 to $2,500) as you open your account, so you essentially get to choose your own credit limit.
Biggest Drawbacks: There’s no ongoing rewards here and the ongoing APR is high if you were to ever have to carry a balance.
Alternatives: New cardholders who want to get acclimated with a more traditional card or feel hesitant to make a sizable security deposit should check out student credit cards or credit cards for bad credit.
Bottom Line: Credit builders who want to have the long-term alternative of graduating to an unsecured card while avoiding an annual fee.
Read our Citi Secured Mastercard review.
What is Mastercard?
Mastercard is one of the largest electronic payment networks in the world. It processes the transactions that consumers make using credit, debit, or prepaid cards. There are four main payment networks: Visa is the largest based on credit card market share, followed by Mastercard, Discover, and American Express.
Rather than issue cards, Mastercard partners with financial institutions like Capital One and Bank of America, as well as local banks or credit unions. These are the issuers that provide the cards that carry the Mastercard logo. Mastercard also partners with millions of merchants around the world. When you use your card, the merchant is charged a fee to have the payment network quickly relay information between the merchant’s bank and the bank that issued the card.
Where is Mastercard accepted?
As one of the biggest payment networks, Mastercard is accepted by over 70 million merchants worldwide. That’s over 210 countries and territories. With that level of near-universal acceptance, Mastercard makes it easy to shop anywhere credit cards are accepted.
What credit score is needed for Mastercard credit cards?
It doesn’t matter what credit score you have. From bad credit to a perfect credit score, Mastercard has a credit card for every consumer.
For this to happen, Mastercard maintains a vast and constantly growing network of issuers – enough to ensure a variety of credit cards for every level of credit. But it’s the credit card issuers that partner with Mastercard that determine what credit score is needed.
Before you try applying, make sure you know your credit score and the other factors that will determine whether you get approved for a Mastercard credit card.
For more information check out how to apply for a credit card and get approved.
How to choose a Mastercard credit card
With so many different credit cards, it’s hard to go wrong choosing a Mastercard. If there is a list of the best credit cards, Mastercard is on it. Here’s how to tell if a Mastercard is right for you.
Who should get a Mastercard
- Credit builders: Credit newcomers and people trying to establish their score have several Mastercards to sort through. The Citi Secured Mastercard and Citi Double Cash card lets cardholders open a card account without an annual fee as an affordable way to get your credit score headed in the right direction. These do come with a bit of an annual fee but are still a worthwhile option as you learn how to build credit.
- Everyday spenders: Someone looking for a general rewards card has a clear-cut choice here: the Citi Rewards+ Card. You don’t have to worry about whether your purchases will get substantial rewards; every buy you make with this card will be rounded up to the nearest 10 rewards points, rewarding you a little extra on even the smallest purchases.
- Travelers: Mastercard provides solid choices for frequent flyers, hotel guests and anyone routinely booking trips for work. Those loyal to American Airlines have a serious opportunity thanks to the rewards and sign-up bonus that come along with the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard. If you’re someone who often checks into IHG hotels, the IHG Rewards Premier card is a no-brainer to upgrade your stays and earn extra rewards. Business travelers looking for a more general rewards card have a great route to take as well, with the 2X miles on all purchases and flexible redemption options featured by the Capital One Spark Miles for Business.
Who should skip a Mastercard
- Debt carriers: If you tend to carry large balances over each month and struggle to stay ahead of credit card debt, you may want to hold off on applying for just any credit card. When you use your credit card and don’t pay your balances off each month, you accrue interest. Depending on how large of a balance and your interest rate, this can lead to considerable debt. Fortunately, Mastercard makes debit cards and secured credit cards, which are great options for people who need time to learn better credit habits
- Impulsive shoppers: If you can’t resist making purchases that fall outside your budget, a credit card might only increase the temptation to splurge. Overspending is a common problem and one of the biggest reasons Americans fall deeper into debt. Before you add a Mastercard to your wallet, it’s a good idea to learn how to create a budget that you can live with.
- Casual bill payers: If you tend to make late payments on your debts, credit card late payment fees could be up to $41 – and that’s on top of your interest charges. Some credit cards even charge a penalty APR – a higher interest rate that you’ll have to pay on any balance you carry over month to month. This penalty typically hits when you’re more than 60 days late, but it could also happen if you make a habit of being late even just a few days. A penalty APR could last until you’ve made six consecutive on-time payments or indefinitely. So, skip using a credit card until you can break this bad credit habit. And when you’re ready, consider starting your credit card journey with a card that rewards responsible usage.
Unique Mastercard programs
With a suite of special offers and exclusive programs, Mastercard takes travel experiences to a whole new level and adds convenience and security to your card. Here’s a sample of the secondary benefits that your Mastercard may offer.
- Standard Mastercard Benefits: Even Mastercard’s standard level credit cards come with benefits. This includes zero liability protection, which protects you from being held responsible if your card is used to make unauthorized purchases. Other standard benefits that might come with your card include Mastercard Global Service™ and Mastercard ID Theft Protection™
- World Mastercard benefits: Mastercard’s middle tier level of benefits have the same benefits as the standard credit cards but also come packed with numerous travel and lifestyle benefits. Travel benefits include travel accident insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, insurance for baggage delay or loss, and airport concierge service. Cardmembers also enjoy price protection, purchase assurance, and cellphone protection. Depending on the card, there will also be exclusive offers from various companies like DoorDash, Lyft, and ShopRunner.
- World Elite Mastercard benefits: Mastercard’s top tier combines the benefits of the previous tiers with premier experiences. When you carry a Mastercard with World Elite status, you get complimentary 24/7 concierge service, free nights at partner hotels, status upgrades on car rentals and enhanced hotel perks like complimentary breakfast for two. For more information, check out the differences between World Mastercard and World Elite Mastercard.
- Priceless: With Priceless Cities and Priceless Golf, cardholders can get access to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. The Cities package can give rewards tailored to your interests, with in-person and digital experiences for all types of people. Players and fans of golf can get access to exclusive golf offers, discounts and experiences with the PGA Tour.
- SecureCode: Mastercard SecureCode is a private code for your Mastercard account that only you and your financial institution see, meaning merchants can’t see it. The added layer of security can protect you from identity theft and fraudulent charges. You can use SecureCode in 122 countries at more than a million online merchants.
- Masterpass: A digital wallet, Masterpass works online, in apps and in stores and on any device. You can store your cards and shipping information electronically, allowing you to shop from one account. You just register on masterpass.com or through your bank and load your Mastercard credit or debit card.
Is a Mastercard credit card worth it?
A Mastercard credit card is worth it when used responsibly. Mastercard provides a safe and convenient way to make purchases just about anywhere in the world. Depending on the issuer that partners with Mastercard, you’ll also get plenty of perks that make a credit card better than other payment methods. These could include sign-up bonuses, rewards, and enhanced safety features.
But to truly reap the benefits, it’s important to use your card wisely. Having good or excellent credit means better options and lower interest rates on various loans like car loans and mortgages. These reduced rates can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars. If you’re someone who wants to take advantage of all that a credit card offers, then a Mastercard credit card may be right for you.
How we picked the best Mastercard credit cards
Research Methodology: We analyzed a multitude of Mastercard credit cards to identify their best offers currently on the market. The major factors we considered were:
- Base rewards program: Are there worthwhile rewards available with the card? Many of Mastercard’s options provide great cash back rewards and points-earning structures, so we honed in on their top offers.
- Introductory APR offers: Several of Mastercard’s top choices welcome you with extended periods of time with intro 0% interest on purchases, balance transfers, or both. We searched for the best offers to help with credit card debt and interest charges.
- Extra features: With cards for all kinds of consumers, Mastercard’s options provide a wide range of perks. We tried to find the card with the best benefits, whether they’re geared towards credit builders or luxury travelers.
- Other rates and fees: We looked at whether the card comes with an annual fee, how reasonable the APR is and if there’s any extraneous costs. If a credit card listed here comes at a price, it surely has the rewards and features to back it up.
About the Author
Joey Robinson is a credit cards writer for CreditCards.com and has worked at a “Big Four” (Ernst & Young) accounting firm before exploring the world of credit cards. After learning proper professional and financial practices through federal audits, he moved on to his second job, where he was introduced to CreditCards.com/Bankrate as a data analyst. As time passed, his interests drifted away from data analysis and into the communication of credit card essentials. Over the past two years, he’s shared his expertise and has brought understanding to complex topics as a writer and editor for sites like CreditCards.com, Bankrate.com and NextAdvisor. His advice on avoiding common credit card fees, top balance transfer tactics and more financial tips have been featured on MSN Money and other various news publications.
About the Editor
Tracy Stewart is a personal finance writer specializing in credit card loyalty programs, travel benefits, and consumer protections. He previously covered travel rewards credit cards, budget travel, and aviation news at SmarterTravel Media. His money-saving tips have appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Consumer Reports, MarketWatch, Vice, People, the Zoe Report and elsewhere.
About the Reviewer
Stephanie Zito is a professional traveler, humanitarian and credit card points collector sharing savvy travel tips she has learned firsthand from more than 20 years of circling the globe as a backpacker, expat and premium traveler in more than 125 countries and all seven continents.