Best MasterCard Credit Cards

Looking for the best MasterCard credit cards? Accepted in over 210 countries and territories worldwide, MasterCard is always a good decision. It may not quite have the reach of VISA, but it’s darn close and still offers some great financial products. There are loads of MasterCards out there, and choosing the right one can be difficult. To help start you on pinpointing the card of your dreams, we’ve assembled a list of the best MasterCard credit cards available today.

Keep in mind, many of these cards are also offered as a VISA. When you apply for your card, make sure the form has an option to choose your preferred payment system. If not, you may want to contact customer service directly to ensure you get the right one.

Best for Balance Transfers and Debt Relief: Citi Simplicity

Citibank Simplicity Credit Card
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on Citibank's
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The Citi Simplicity is not geared toward rewards. Instead, it grants reprieve from interest rates. The Simplicity has 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 21 months, and then the ongoing APR of 12.99% - 22.99% (Variable).  One of the longest intro periods we’ve ever seen. There are two main situations in which the Simplicity would be a godsend. If you need to charge a large sum in the near future, the Simplicity will give you a solid year and a half to pay it off without incurring a penny in interest. Or, if you already have a chunk of debt you’re trying to pay off, you can transfer your balance to the Simplicity and put a freeze on interest rates. Remember, you will have to pay a balance transfer fee when dumping debts onto the Simplicity, but this is often far less expensive than continuing to accrue interest. The fee is 3%, which is a considerable improvement over the standard 5%. If you need to take a vacation from interest, check out the Citi Simplicity. Again, you’ll have to ask Citi to issue you a MasterCard instead of a Visa.

Best Rewards Credit Card: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is one of the best rewards cards in the business. You basically earn 2.2% rewards on every dollar you spend: 2 miles on every $1, and if you redeem your miles as a statement credit against a travel expense (airfare, travel agencies, car rentals, hotels, etc), 10% of the redeemed miles are credited back to your account. Moreover, it comes with a great bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 or more on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. Its $89 annual fee is waived the first year, and it has no foreign transaction fee. With a rewards rate of 2.2%, this is pretty much the best card out there for international travel and everyday value alike.

Best card for Students: Upromise World MasterCard®

Barclays Upromise Credit Card
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on Barclays's
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The Upromise card isn’t just for current or aspiring students – it’s ideal for anyone who wants a great cash back program without the hassle of annual fees. It earns 5% cash back through the extensive Upromise mall (this is on top of the 5% bonus you get normally, so you can get 10% back on Gap, Sephora, and hundreds more). On top of that, you get:

  • 4% cash back at participating restaurants
  • 3% at Exxon or Mobile gas stations
  • 2% on movies
  • 1% elsewhere
  • A Start with a $100 Cash Back bonus after you use the account to make a purchase within the first 90 days of account opening. signup bonus

You’ll also get 12 months of 0% interest on purchases and transfers, with no annual fee. Perhaps the best part is how you redeem your cash back: you can get a straight-up check, or you can contribute your rewards to a 529 college savings plan or Sallie Mae high-yield savings account, or pay down a Sallie Mae-serviced student loan. It’s not just for college kids: Anyone can benefit from easy cash and up to 10% back.

Best for Bad Credit: Capital One Secured 

Capital One Secured MasterCard Credit Card
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on Capital One's
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If your credit score leaves something to be desired, the Capital One Secured MasterCard provides a helping hand. It is the best card for low credit we’ve yet to discover. For starters, the annual fee is nice and low at $29. The security deposit–which all secured credit cards require–will either be $49, $99 or $200 depending on your credit score. Regardless of the minimum, you’ll start with a $200 credit limit not matter what. You can deposit more money to raise your limit (up to $3,000), and the money is refunded when you eventually qualify for a better card and close your account. The APR might seem a little steep at 22.90%, but that’s actually pretty darn reasonable for a credit card for bad credit. The CapOne secured is extraordinarily consumer-friendly, allowing cardholders to pay the security deposit in installments (up to 80 days). We recommend this card to anyone who can’t qualify for an unsecured option. Take some time to demonstrate responsible spending with the CapOne Secured, and you’ll be eligible for a better credit card in no time.

  • kchoadley

    I realized the Citi platinum select MasterCard for college students has a Visa logo on it, just wanted to bring that to your attention since it is relevant to the article. Overall I enjoyed the article and learned a little from it, though I feel the tone on the Capital One Cash Rewards was a little over zealous, considering it has mediocre rewards and an annual fee. On a side note, I applied for the Capital One Cash Rewards (first), followed by the Chase Freedom and Citi Forward all on the same day 2 years ago with a 720 credit score and the Capital One Cash Rewards was the only card I wasn’t approved for, so I don’t know if it is any more accessible than other better reward cards. That being said, the other cards are Visa.

  • Moscato SugarRush

    Why not Sallie Mae World Mastercard with 5% in bookstores (including amazon), 5% in gas, and 5% in groceries?

    • Jessica

      Because it has 5% back on the first $250 of gas and groceries you purchase within a month, which might work if you’re only a college student but as part of a family, I go through at least $1000 a month in gas and groceries. That means if I spent my money with this card, I would get back $12.50 on the first $250 then only get 1% back (which is available from a multitude of other cards) for the next $750 I spend each month.

      The UPromise card might have different categories where it gives you the higher percentage back but they’re all unlimited.

      • Moscato-Moe

        You seem to misunderstand how the card works.

        The 250$ pools are separate for gas and groceries each.

        That means, you get 5% cashback on 250$ in gas, and 5% on 250$ in groceries.

        If you *still* have left overs, those would be 1%, unless you had a second card, like the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, which covers 6000 per year with 6% cashback.

  • MikeP

    for the barlclay arrival card, is there a yearly benefit as well? *like X amount of miles or X amount of bonus points per year for keeping up spend? or is it only a first time reward?

  • MichaelRC

    Might also wanna check out the rewards calculator at CredítCardTuneUp. com to see how much in rewards you’d earn for your expenses with various MasterCard cards and other cards.

    Calculates the best card combos for you too.