Which Mastercard should you get?

14

Whether you’re interested in playing the AA Loyalty Point Pursuit game or you want to pay your mortgage with a credit card, it’s helpful to have at least one highly rewarding Mastercard in your wallet.  For the former, you need a Mastercard in order to earn American Airlines miles through SimplyMiles.  And for the latter, you can use a Mastercard, but not an Amex or Visa, to pay your mortgage through Plastiq.  So, which Mastercard should you get?

Welcome bonus vs ongoing rewards

Cards with the best initial signup bonuses are not always the best for ongoing rewards.  For example, one of the best ongoing earning cards is the fee-free Citi Double Cash, which offers 2% cash back everywhere along with the ability to convert rewards to ThankYou points which can then be transferred to loyalty partners if you also have a Citi Premier or Prestige card.  But the Double Cash card has no welcome bonus.  That’s why I often recommend that people sign up for a personal credit card from Citibank that has a big welcome bonus and then later product change that card to the Double Cash.  That way you can get the best of both worlds.

In the following sections, we’ll look at the best Mastercard signup bonuses, followed by the most rewarding Mastercards for everyday spend.  We end with a discussion about best overall options.

Best Mastercard welcome bonuses

The following display shows the ten best current signup bonuses for Mastercard credit cards.  Cards are sorted by our calculated “first year value”.  This is the estimated value of first year rewards minus the “cost” to meet the minimum spend requirement (assuming that the alternative would be 3% cash back, as with the Discover It Miles first year).

If you’re interested in seeing more than the top 10 offers, simply click “Next” at the bottom of the page, or use the drop down selector at the top to show more than 10 items.

Card Offer
Brex Cash
Up to 110K Points
30K points after $3.5K spend, or 80K points after $9K spend within 30 days. Plus 10K after $3K spend in 3 months and 20K when you connect payroll to Brex.

No Annual Fee

The Aeroplan® Card
2 50K Reward Certificates + Elite Status
2 50K Reward Certificates after $4K spend in 3 months + Aeroplan 25K Elite Status for the remainder of the first calendar year, plus the following calendar year. Note that reward certificates never expire as long as your card remains open

$95 Annual Fee

JetBlue Business Card
Up to 70K Miles
Up to 70K miles: 50K after $1K spend in 90 days plus 20K after $6K spend in the first 12 months

$99 Annual Fee

Chase IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
125K + Free night
125K points + free night certificate valid for one night up to 40K points after $3K spend in 3 months

No Annual Fee First Year, Then $89

CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard
65K miles
65K after $4K spend in first 4 months

No Annual Fee First Year, Then $99

Recent better offer: 75K after $5K in the first 5 months (Expired 1/16/20)

Capital One Spark Miles Business Credit Card
50K "miles"
Earn a one-time bonus: 50K "miles" after $4.5K spend in the first 3 months from account opening

No Annual Fee First Year, Then $95

Note: Capital One Business cards DO count against Chase's 5/24 Rule

Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Recent better offer: Earn up to 200K "miles": 50K after $5K spend in the first 3 months from account opening and an additional 150K after $50K spend in the first 6 months from account opening [Expired 1/27/20 and breifly available in 2021]

Chase Freedom Flex
20K points + 5X gas + 15 months 0% APR
Earn 20,000 points (worth $200 cash back) after spending $500 in the first 3 months + 5x Ultimate Rewards points (worth 5% cash back) on gas purchases for 1st year (on up to $6K in purchases). 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.

No Annual Fee

Be sure to select the card you want after clicking through. This card is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (click here for details). Even though this card is marketed as a cash back card, it actually earns Ultimate Rewards points which are redeemable for 1 cent each, or can be combined with other Ultimate Rewards-earning cards to get even more value. This product is available to you if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.

Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Recent better offer: 20K points + 5x grocery stores for the first year on up to $12K in qualifying purchases

Barclays JetBlue Plus Mastercard
50K Miles
50K miles after $1K spend and payment of the annual fee in 90 days

$99 Annual Fee

Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Alternate offer: You could get a bonus 5K miles for using an employee code. Details here.

Recent better offer: Expired 2/4/21: 100K after $6K spend

The Hawaiian Airlines® Business MasterCard® issued by Barclays
Up to 90K miles
Up to 90K miles: 50K after $1K in the first 90 days + 40K after a total of $6K spend in 12 months

$99 Annual Fee

Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Recent better offer: 60K after $1K in the first 90 days + 10K after first purchase on an employee card [Expired 8/19]

Chase IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card
80K Points
80K Points after $2K spend in 3 months

No Annual Fee

Click here to view details about a similar card: IHG Rewards Club Premier

Recent better offer: 100K after $2K spend in 3 months

The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard® issued by Barclays
Up to 80K miles
Up to 80K miles: 60K after $2K in the first 90 days + 20K after a total of $4K spend in 6 months

$99 Annual Fee

Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Alternate offer: You may be able to get 60K miles after 1st purchase via paper application distributed in-flight.

U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard®
$500 Cash Back
$500 cash back after $4500 spend on the account owner's card in first 150 days

No Annual Fee

Citi Rewards+ Card
20K points
20K points after $1.5K spend in 3 months

No Annual Fee

Capital One Quicksilver
$200 Cash Back
One time bonus: $200 after $500 spend in 3 months from account opening

No Annual Fee

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
$200 Cash Back
One time bonus: $200 after $500 spend in 3 months from account opening

No Annual Fee

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card
10K miles + $50
Earn 10K AA miles + $50 statement credit after $500 spend in 3 months

No Annual Fee

Allegiant World Mastercard® Credit Card
15K miles
15K after $1K in first 90 days

$59 Annual Fee

Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Alternate offer: You may be targeted for an offer including a $100 statement credit during a dummy booking.

Citi Double Cash Card

Recent better offer: None

Manchester United Credit Card
Earn Double Points
Earn double points in your first year, up to 100K bonus points

No Annual Fee

Most rewarding Mastercards for everyday spend

The following display shows the ten most rewarding Mastercard credit cards for everyday spend (meaning: spend not within a bonus category).  Cards are limited to those that one can sign up for today and are sorted by the estimated value of each card’s base spend.

If you’re interested in seeing more than the top 10 offers, simply click “Next” at the bottom of the page, or use the drop down selector at the top to show more than 10 items.

Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
Capital One Spark Miles Business Credit Card
Base
Travel
Earning rate: 2X everywhere ⚬ Earn 5X miles on hotel and rental car
bookings through Capital One Travel
Citi Double Cash Card
Base
Earning rate: 2% cash back everywhere (1% cash back for each purchase + 1% when paying your credit card bill for that purchase)
Capital One Spark Miles Select Business Credit Card
Base
Travel
Earning rate: 1.5X everywhere ⚬ Earn 5X miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel
Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard
Base
Brand
Earning rate: 3X on Air France, KLM, and SkyTeam purchases ⚬ 1.5X everywhere else
Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard
Base
Brand
Earning rate: 3X Virgin Atlantic ⚬ 1.5X everywhere else
Chase Freedom Flex
Base
Travel
Dine
Grocery
Other
Earning rate: 5x travel booked through Chase ⚬ 5X Lyft through March 2022 ⚬ 3x dining ⚬ 3x drugstores ⚬ 5X in rotating categories on up to $1,500 spend per quarter. Q1 2022: 5X Grocery Stores & Ebay
BOA Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard
Base
1.5X
(1.5%)
Travel
Earning rate: 1.5X everywhere; 3X for travel booked through BOA's travel center
Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card
Base
1.5X
(1.5%)
Earning rate: 1.5% everywhere; Earn up to 2.625% back everywhere with Bank of America Platinum Honors status. Note that you'll need Preferred Rewards on the business side ("Preferred Rewards for Business") to earn a greater return.
Capital One Quicksilver
Base
1.5%
Earning rate: 1.5% everywhere
Santander® Ultimate
Cash Back® credit card
Base
1.5%
Earning rate: 1.5% everywhere
Citi Business ThankYou Card
Base
Other
Earning rate: 3X rotating quarterly categories
AT&T Access Card
Base
Travel
Shop
Brand
Earning rate: ⚬ 2 points per $1 on products and services that are purchased directly from AT&T ⚬ 2 points per $1 on all purchases at online retail and travel sites ⚬ 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
Citi Custom Cash Card
Base
Travel
Dine
Gas
Grocery
Other
Earning rate: 5x on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1x thereafter. Eligible categories: Restaurants, Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Select Travel, Select Transit, Select Streaming Services, Drugstores, Home Improvement Stores, Fitness Clubs and Live Entertainment. ⚬ 1x on all other purchases
Citi Rewards+ Card
Base
Gas
Grocery
Earning rate: 2X at supermarkets and gas stations on up to $6,000 per year ⚬ Round up to nearest 10 TY points on all purchases
Bilt Mastercard
Base
Travel
Dine
Earning rate: Must use your card for 5 purchases per month, then: 3x Dining ⚬ 2x Travel ⚬ 1x rent (up to 50,000 points per year) ⚬ 1x everywhere else
Brex Cash
Base
Travel
Dine
Biz
Other
Earning rate: 8x Rideshare ⚬ 5x Brex Travel ⚬ 4x Restaurants ⚬ 3x on recurring software like Salesforce, Zendesk, Twilio, and more ⚬ 1x everywhere else
JetBlue Business Card
Base
Dine
Office
Brand
Earning rate: ⚬ 2X restaurants and office supply stores ⚬ 6X JetBlue ⚬ 1X everywhere else
JetBlue Card
Base
Dine
Grocery
Brand
Earning rate: ⚬ 2X restaurants and grocery ⚬ 3X JetBlue ⚬ 1X everywhere else⚬
Barclays JetBlue Plus Mastercard
Base
Dine
Grocery
Brand
Earning rate: 2X restaurants and grocery ⚬ 6X JetBlue ⚬ 1X everywhere else
CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard
Base
Travel
Gas
Phone
Brand
Earning rate: ⚬ 2X AA ⚬ 2X certain telecommunications merchants ⚬ 2X car rental merchants ⚬ 2X gas
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card
Base
Grocery
Brand
Earning rate: 2X grocery ⚬ 2X AA ⚬ 1X everywhere else
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite MasterCard
Base
Dine
Gas
Brand
Earning rate: 2X restaurants ⚬ 2X gas ⚬ 2X AA
AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard
Base
Brand
Earning rate: ⚬ 2X AA ⚬ 1X everywhere else
The Aeroplan® Card
Base
Dine
Grocery
Brand
Earning rate: 3X Air Canada ⚬ 3X grocery stores ⚬ 3X dining ⚬ 500 bonus points with each $2K calendar month spend, up to $6K spend per month
Upromise World MasterCard® issued by Barclays
Base
1.25%
Earning rate: Earn 1.529% back on your purchases when your Upromise Program account is linked to an eligible College Savings Plan or 1.25% if it is not.
Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard
Base
Travel
Brand
Earning rate: 3X Emirates ⚬ 2X airfare, hotel, and car rentals ⚬ 1X everywhere else
Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard
Base
Travel
Brand
Earning rate: 3X Emirates ⚬ 2X airfare, hotel, and car rentals ⚬ 1X everywhere else
Best Western Rewards Premium MasterCard issued by First Bankcard
Base
Brand
Earning rate: 10X at Best Western properties ⚬ 2X elsewhere
HSBC Premier World Mastercard® credit card
Base
Travel
Earning rate: 2x travel (includes airlines, hotels, and car rentals)
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard® credit card
Base
Travel
Dine
Earning rate: 3x travel (includes airlines, hotels, and car rentals) ⚬ 2x dining
Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard®
Base
Travel
Brand
Earning rate: 3x Norwegian cruise line purchases ⚬ 2x air and hotel
Allegiant World Mastercard® Credit Card
Base
Dine
Brand
Earning rate: 3x Allegiant ⚬ 2x dining
Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard
Base
1%
Travel
3%
Dine
2%
Gas
3%
Phone
3%
Office
3%
Biz
3%
Earning rate: 2% on dining plus 3% on 1 choice from: gas stations (default), office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom & wireless, computer services or business consulting services (for the first $50,000 in combined choice/dining purchases each calendar year, 1% thereafter) and 1% everywhere else.
AARP® Travel Rewards Mastercard®
Base
1%
Travel
3%
Dine
2%
Earning rate: 3% airfare, hotel stays, and car rentals ⚬ 2% restaurants ⚬ 1% everywhere else
Capital One Savor
Base
1%
Dine
4%
Grocery
3%
Other
4%
Earning rate: 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and popular streaming services ⚬ 3% at grocery stores ⚬ 1% everywhere else ⚬ 8% back at Vivid Seats (through January 2023)
AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard®
Base
1%
Gas
3%
Other
3%
Earning rate: 3% drugstores and gas stations ⚬ 2% medical expenses ⚬ 1% everywhere else
Cleveland Cavaliers Credit Card
Base
1%
Dine
3%
Grocery
3%
Brand
5%
Earning rate: 5x Cavs season tickets and streaming services ⚬ 3x other Cavs tickets, dining, grocery, and delivery ⚬ 1x everywhere else
Manchester United Credit Card
Base
1%
Dine
5%
Other
5%
Earning rate: 5x rideshare and streaming services ⚬ 5x bars and restaurants on match days ⚬ 1x everywhere else
Miami Marlins Credit Card
Base
1%
Dine
3%
Brand
5%
Other
3%
Earning rate: 5x on Marlins tickets ⚬ 5% back on retail & concessions at IoanDepot Park ⚬ 3x on dining, food delivery, gas and drugstores ⚬ 1x on everything else
Huntington Voice
Base
1%
Travel
3%
Dine
3%
Gas
3%
Grocery
3%
Shop
3%
Office
3%
Biz
3%
Other
3%
Earning rate: 3% cash back on up to $2K in spend in the category you choose each quarter: gas stations, travel & entertainment, restaurants, discount & warehouse stores, grocery stores, utilities & office supply stores, electronics and computer and camera stores, department and apparel and sporting good stores, auto parts & service, and home improvement stores
U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard®
Base
1%
Dine
3%
Gas
3%
Phone
3%
Office
3%
Earning rate: 3% cash back on eligible purchases at gas stations, office supply stores, cell phone service providers and restaurants ⚬ 1% back everywhere else ⚬ Note: purchases of gaoline greater than $200 will not be deemed to be a purchase of automotive gasoline and will therefore earn only 1%.
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Base
1%
Dine
3%
Grocery
3%
Other
3%
Earning rate: 3% on dining, entertainment, select streaming services, and purchases at grocery stores ⚬ 1% everywhere else ⚬ 8% back at Vivid Seats (through January 2023)
Frontier Airlines World MasterCard®
Base
Dine
Brand
Earning rate: 5X at FlyFrontier.com ⚬ 3X restaurants
Sonesta World Mastercard
Base
Travel
Brand
Earning rate: 2X airfare, car rental and dining ⚬ 3X Sonesta
The Hawaiian Airlines® Business MasterCard® issued by Barclays
Base
Dine
Gas
Office
Brand
Earning rate: 3X Hawaiian Airlines ⚬ 2x gas, dining, and office supply stores ⚬ 1x everywhere else
The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard® issued by Barclays
Base
Dine
Gas
Grocery
Brand
Earning rate: 3X Hawaiian Airlines ⚬ 2x gas, dining, and grocery stores ⚬ 1x everywhere else
Citi® Expedia®+ Voyager Card
Base
Dine
Brand
Other
Earning rate: 4X Expedia purchases ⚬ 2x restaurants & entertainment
Citi® Expedia Rewards Credit Card
Base
Brand
Earning rate: 3X Expedia purchases
Chase IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Base
Dine
Gas
Grocery
Brand
10X
(6%)
Earning rate: 10X IHG ⚬ 2X gas, grocery, and restaurants.
Chase IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card
Base
Dine
Gas
Grocery
Brand
Earning rate: ⚬ 5X IHG ⚬ 2X gas, grocery, and restaurants

Cards shown above are sorted by the value of the “Base” rebate in descending order based on our Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs), or by their fixed redemption value with cash back cards.  It’s worth noting that transferable points are assigned higher Reasonable Redemption Values since they make it possible to cherry pick the best value awards.  In some cases this will be unintuitive: For example, the Double Cash card is advertised as a cash back card offering 2% cash back.  However, if you have a Premier or Prestige card, you can convert Double Cash rewards to ThankYou points and then transfer those points to airline or hotel programs in order to get even better value.

Note that two excellent earners are not shown above because they require Bank of America’s “elite status:” Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards for Business.  To get this status, you need to have $100,000 invested in business accounts with Bank of America and/or Merrill.  With that status, these cards offer great return on everyday spend:

Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
BOA Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard (with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards for Business)
Base
2.625X
(2.63%)
Travel
5.25X
(5.25%)
Earning rate: With Platinum Honors status with Bank of America's Business Advantage Relationship Rewards program, this card earns: 2.625X points for all spend (and 5.25X for travel purchased through BOA's travel center)
Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card (with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards)
Base
2.625X
(2.63%)
Earning rate: 1.5% everywhere; Earn up to 2.625% back everywhere with Bank of America Platinum Honors status

Recommendations

If you simply want to earn as many rewards as possible while paying your mortgage, then I’d recommend simply starting at the top of the list of best welcome bonuses and pick the first one you can qualify for (and which you’d be able to meet minimum spend).  Once the card comes, you can use Plastiq to pay your mortgage with the Mastercard for a 2.85% fee in order to meet the offer’s spend requirements.  Once you’ve met the minimum spend requirements for a new card, sign up for another card and use that to pay your mortgage.  It doesn’t usually make sense to keep paying your mortgage on a card after you earn the initial bonus because the rewards won’t outweigh Plastiq’s fee (2.85% as I write this).  Once a card’s annual fee comes due for the second year, then either downgrade it to a fee-free card or cancel it.

If you want a Mastercard for playing the AA Loyalty Point Pursuit game (since SimplyMiles only works with Mastercards), then the Citi Double Cash is your best bet.  It’s a great card to have for everyday spend, it has no annual fee, and it can qualify for Citi Merchant Offers which are similar to Amex Offers and Chase Offers.  As I wrote earlier in the post, though, you may be better off starting with a Citi Mastercard that offers a nice welcome bonus.  The best current Citi offer is for the Premier card, but you wouldn’t want to product change that one to the Double Cash because you would then lose any ThankYou points you’ve earned.  A better bet is the AAdvantage Platinum Select card.  Since rewards from that card are stored with American Airlines rather than Citibank, you can product change that card to the Double Cash without risking losing rewards.  As an aside, I still think that the Premier card is a great option, in general, but don’t get it with the intent to change it to the Double Cash.

Another consideration for those playing the AA Loyalty Point Pursuit game is that various deals may stack with both SimplyMiles and card-linked offers from Chase, Citi, Bank of America, etc. and so it would be great to have at least one Mastercard from each.  Chase currently has great welcome offers for a number of Mastercards: the Aeroplan card, IHG Premier card, and Freedom Flex.  Bank of America has decent offers (but not spectacular) for Mastercards such as: Air France KLM, Free Spirit Travel More, Sonesta, as well as a few business cards.

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14 Comments
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Ryan

What card do you recommend opening and then downgrading to the double cash back Citi card?

Nathan

Does the Aadvantage Platinum Select Card itself come with access to Citi Merchant Offers?

Nathan

Given comments here I gather the AA card cannot access Merchant Offers https://www.reddit.com/r/CreditCards/comments/l80heu/citi_merchant_offers/. In light of the issues others are reporting here with product changes to Double Cash, I will likely try to product change an existing card I have and, if the change is not possible, will apply directly for a new card.

Eliza

Thanks for this – I was lamenting my complete lack of MasterCards. Ended up going with the CitiBusiness AAdvantage. Easy approval and keeps me under 5/24 for now. Let the games begin. (In 7-10 business days.)

EMILY

Please, no more of the silly photos of Greg mugging and musing. It just cheapens the fine work you all do.

Anita

I like the photos, lol.

Jacinto

Is there a way to pay your ongoing mortgage thru Plastiq at a bonused credit card earnings rate > than the Plastiq fee? Alternatively, does Plastiq have any lower promotional rates that might be competitive with a non-bonused Citi 2% card?

Tomas

Great article! One thing I would challenge (for some people) is the recommendation of the Citi Double Cash for people focused on playing the AA Loyalty Points game. I assume some/most of the stuff on SimplyMiles would code as online shopping in which case, those that have BofA’s Platinum Honors can get 5.25% back with their Customized Cash Rewards card if you select online shopping as your category. (It’s listed in your Best Offers section as a Visa Signature, but they also have a Mastercard version)

D.W.

Not to my knowledge. I got it in 2017, and it was Visa.

Jacob B

JFYI I tried to PC from Premier to Double Cash last week and was told Citi has restricted that card from product changes until Q2 2022 as they “rethink certain benefits.”

Jacob B

I PC’d to the Rewards+ in the meantime but have a reminder on 4/1/2022 to try and PC from that to the Double Cash. Maybe we’ll have more info by then, but if not I’ll let you know how that goes!

Tomas

I tried to PC an old Expedia card to the Double Cash earlier this week as well and they didn’t let me do that either… instead forcing me to get the Custom Cash for a year, then saying I could change that to the Double Cash after a year is up on the Custom (she made it sound like that was there were no direct PC’s from Expedia to Double Cash, but you had to have an intermediary year with the Custom Cash)