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The best Mastercard credit cards: Ditch the Visa in your wallet

Find the right Mastercard for home, work, and school.

Mastercard has been a leading credit card issuer for both domestic and international transactions since 1966, and it's easy to see why. 

Its logo is featured nearly everywhere, with acceptance at most retailers both in the U.S. and abroad. The standard benefits of a Mastercard include zero liability protection, Mastercard Global Service, and Mastercard ID Theft Protection. Upgraded cards with World and World Elite privileges have benefits like Lyft discounts, travel packages and concierge service, and entertainment perks. 

But, with so many to choose from, which Mastercard is the best? We have the latest information on the best Mastercard credit cards in 2022 for your family. 

Card Highlights
Intro BonusEarn 30,000 online bonus points after you make at least $3,000 in net purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening which can be redeemed for a $300 statement credit towards travel or dining-related purchases.
APR12.49% - 22.49% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Recommended Credit Excellent
Reward Rates
  • Earn 3 points per every dollar spent on travel purchases (car, hotel, airline) booked through the Bank of America® Travel Center.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all purchases everywhere, every time-no matter how much you spend. Points don't expire.
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APR0% for 9 billing cycles
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

The Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard credit card is made for the small business owner, offering rewards without any limitations so you can make the most out of your company's finances. There are unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on purchases without restrictions on how much you spend or from which store you buy. It is also designed to help with travel, offering 3x the points when you choose the Bank of America Travel Center to book your car, hotel, or flight. Your points never expire, and there are no annual or foreign transactions fees to slow you down while on travel. Business owners that have a Bank of America checking account can earn up to 75% more points by qualifying for the highest tier of rewards, the Preferred Rewards for Business tier.

Pros 

  • No annual or foreign transaction fees
  • Bonus offer
  • Intro APR

Cons

  • Excellent credit required
  • No luxury travel upgrades
  • Limited bonus rewards
Card Highlights
Intro BonusN/A
APR26.99% (Variable)
Recommended Credit Limited, Bad
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is forgiving of new or damaging credit and offers a route to rebuild your credit. As a secured card, you will be required to make a deposit to guarantee your line of credit. This can be a minimum refundable deposit of $49, $99, or $200. There is no annual fee, but it comes with a very high, set APR of 26.99% variable, that does not offer the leeway of other cards. 

After establishing a history of responsible payments, Capital One could refund your deposit and allow you to move to the unsecured Platinum card. Automatic credit line reviews can occur as soon as six months after you open your account.

Pros  

  • Flat APR
  • No annual or foreign transaction fees
  • Excellent for credit building

Cons

  • Requires a deposit
  • Higher APR
  • No rewards
Card Highlights
Intro Bonus$300 after you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
APR16.24% - 24.24% (Variable)
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining, entertainment and popular streaming services
  • Earn 3% at grocery stores
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases
Annual Fee$95
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

If you like to be out and about, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards credit card is your perfect fit for dining and entertainment, like 8% off Vivid Seats tickets. Even if you love to lounge on the couch with some takeout, Capital One has you covered with 4% cashback on takeout, delivery, and your popular streaming services for that must-see movie or TV show. There is even 3% on groceries if you feel like playing Emeril at home, and you will earn 1% on all other purchases. 

There is an annual fee that is under $100. However, the welcome bonus eases the sting with a one-time $300 cash bonus when you spend $3,000 within three months.

Pros

  • No transfer fee
  • Rewards don't expire
  • Welcome rewards

Cons

  • Requires excellent credit
  • No intro APR
  • Annual fee
Card Highlights
Intro BonusN/A
APR14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

The Citi Double Cash card will not bring you rewards or even an intro APR, but it does give rewards on a regular basis. Rewards are limited to just 1% cashback when you purchase your items, but there is another 1% awarded when you pay for a total of 2% cashback on your purchases. There are no category restrictions or limitations, so it is a simple rewards structure that is straightforward and upfront. Rewards are distributed as ThankYou Points under a new program beginning at the end of March 2022. You will have the choice to redeem your points as a direct deposit, check, statement credit, or gift card, among other rewards.

There is also a low starting APR of 14.74%, making it the second-lowest starting APR on our list.

Pros 

  • 2% cashback rewards
  • Unlimited rewards
  • Intro balance transfer APR

Cons

  • No welcome rewards
  • No intro APR
  • Staggered rewards
Card Highlights
Intro BonusEarn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
APR16.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Annual Fee$95
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

When you sign up for a new Citi Premier card, you will receive 60,000 bonus points after making purchases totaling $4,000 or more within the first 3 months of opening your account. This is a reward that is worth $600 when you redeem via gift cards. When it comes time to redeem your rewards, you can use your ThankYou Points to redeem as gift cards or travel rewards, or you can opt to use them for online purchases at Amazon or Best Buy. There is also a $100 annual hotel savings benefit that will give you one $100 credit to use toward a hotel stay costing $500 or more.

While there is a $95 annual fee, there are no foreign transaction fees to help when you are a regular traveler. The APR starts higher than others with a purchase APR that starts at 16.74%, but it is not the highest APR on our list at 24.74% for poor credit. 

Pros 

  • Annual fee
  • Welcome rewards
  • Annual hotel credit

Cons

  • Annual fee
  • No intro APR
  • Must have good credit
Card Highlights
Intro BonusN/A
APR19.49% Variable
Recommended Credit Limited/No Credit
Reward Rates
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Rewards & Redemption Details

Deserve offers two cards, but its EDU card is a fantastic option for students with new or little credit. You don't have to worry about money taking up all your fees, either. Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students does not charge any fees for balance transfers, foreign transactions, cash advances, or even annual account fees. However, there are also not any introductory offers that give points, miles, or cash value. You will receive a free one-year membership to Prime Student for all those dorm rooms and school supplies you will need while away at school.

The card does come with 1% cashback on all purchases, plus cell phone protection.

Pros 

  • Accepts international students
  • One-year Prime Student membership
  • No annual or foreign transaction fees 

Cons

  • No balance transfers
  • No cash advances
  • No intro offers
Card Highlights
Intro BonusN/A
APR15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APR0% for 12 months on Purchases
Additional Details

The Citi Simplicity card specializes in balance transfers, offering an 0% introductory APR lasting 21 months - nine months longer than the 12-month period for the 0% purchase APR (with a variable APR 15.49% - 25.49% thereafter) . It means you have almost two years to make all the transfers you need before the fees kick in. This card also skips the usual fees with no late fee or annual fee, saving you potentially hundreds of dollars each month. 

However, with no rewards program, this is not the card you want when you are looking for rewards. There are no bonus points or cashback rewards to offer redemption options like travel miles or cash value, so it really is best when your goal is to make multiple balance transfers.

Pros 

  • Intro purchase APR
  • Intro transfer APR
  • No annual fee

Cons

  • No rewards
  • No cash back
  • Foreign transaction fee

How did we choose these credit cards?

There are many different types of Mastercard credit cards, but they all differ in their purpose and rewards. However, trying to find the right one for you may not always be a simple task, especially if you are not sure what you need.

To find the best Mastercard credit cards, we analyzed today's top offerings using specific factors, including these:

  • Introductory offer: credit cards may welcome your business with a special APR for the first few months that you have the card. Often, a company will offer a 0% APR for a certain period, such as a year or more, until the normal APR kicks in.
  • APR: Your APR determines how much interest you will pay on your purchases. We recommend that you shop and compare multiple Mastercard credit cards to find the best rate for your qualifications.
  • Rewards: cards can differ in the types of rewards they offer, such as unlimited or restricted cashback, while some cards do not offer anything at all.
  • Perks: Some credit card issuers offer extra benefits, such as shopping discounts or travel insurance. These can help you save extra money, funds you may need if you choose a card with extra fees.
  •  Annual fee: credit cards typically include an annual membership fee. While some credit cards cost nothing, others could cost up to $100 or more.

These are all factors you can use to aid you in your search for the best Mastercard credit cards.

Which is the right credit card for you?

To help you find the right Mastercard for you, these are some expert recommendations from our ZDNet editorial team.

Choose this credit card...

When you...

Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard

Have small business credit needs

Capital One Platinum Secured

Want to improve new or poor credit 

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards

Want cashback on dining and entertainment

Citi Double Cash

Prefer flat-rate cashback rewards

Citi Premier

Want to rack up frequent flier miles

Citi Simplicity

Make a lot of transfers

Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students

Want a student-friendly credit card

What is Mastercard?

Mastercard is a payment network that issues branded credit cards. These credit cards allow you to make purchases, receive cash advances, and transfer funds using a specific line of credit that you repay in full or in installments.

Which Mastercard is the best for me?

The best Mastercard all depends on you and your financial goals. Consider your personal spending and how that impacts your overall income. Some credit cards may offer extra rewards to earn you money, while others may focus on providing a line of credit to those with bad credit or even no credit

Is Mastercard or Visa better?

Both Mastercard and Visa are similar in that they are accepted almost everywhere, and both carry significant benefits and rewards for their customers. However, Mastercard offers more benefits than Visa, making it slightly ahead when comparing Visa vs. Mastercard. 

Are there alternative cards worth considering?

In our search for the best Mastercard credit cards, we came across many other options. These are some of the credit cards that almost made our list of the best Mastercard credit cards and may be worthy of your consideration. 

  • Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards: A great pick for bad credit
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: Premium benefits 
  • Chase Freedom Flex: Choose for bonus categories
  • Discover It Cash Back: Best for everyday purchases

To help you find the right credit card for you, consider some of our other expert picks, like the best cashback credit card, the best credit card for good credit, and the best travel business credit card.