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Best Mastercard Credit Cards in July 2024

Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more about it.

updated: June 26, 2024

When it comes to something as important as how you use credit, you only want the best credit cards in your wallet. It’s just not worth it to have cards that don’t offer very much value, particularly in regard to annual fees, APRs, and other benefits.

Mastercards are accepted in more than 200 countries around the world. They come with standard fraud and liability protection, but the benefits and perks will vary from card to card. We’ve narrowed down Mastercard credit cards worth considering for a variety of spending needs.

Our recommendations for the best Mastercard credit cards

If you’re looking for a Mastercard, there are plenty of competitive options. While this list isn’t exhaustive, it’s a good place to find one to match your spending habits.

Best for travel rewards: Citi Strata Premier℠ Card

Citi Strata Premier℠ Card

Citi Strata Premier℠ Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees

Welcome offer: Earn 70,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening, redeemable for $700 in gift cards or travel rewards at thankyou.com.

Rewards rate: Earnings on the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card include three points for every $1 spent at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, other hotel purchases, and airfare. In short, it earns a lot in quite a few categories.

Our take: There are some sweet spots on the redemption side of Citi Strata Premier℠ Card that make this travel rewards card worth considering, including possible business class redemptions on partner airlines. In addition to the welcome offer, you can also earn 10 Thank You points for every $1 spent on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked through the ThankYou travel portal. The card’s annual fee is $95, but it is possible to completely offset that by using the $100 hotel credit made available in the credit card’s online travel booking portal.

Best for cash back: Citi Double Cash® Card

Citi Double Cash® Card

Citi Double Cash® Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
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(Rates & Fees)

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full

Rewards rate: The Citi Double Cash® Card is a credit card that offers 2% flat cash back on all purchases. It comes in the form of 1% cash back when the purchase is made and 1% cash back when a payment is made.

Our take: Its simple rewards structure coupled with no annual fee make this a competitive cash back earner. There’s no bonus offer of rewards, but it is possible you may be able to take advantage of an balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_duration with a intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration.

Learn more from our full review.

Best for no annual fee: card_name

card_name

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full

Rewards rate: The card_name earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases and 5% cash back on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One.

RELATED: Capital One Miles Guide

In addition to its bonus, there is a balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_duration. The card does not have an annual fee or charge foreign transaction fees.

Best for balance transfers: card_name

card_name

Citi Simplicity Card

Citi Simplicity Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full

Rewards rate: None.

Our take: The Citi Simplicity offers a lengthy 21 months with a 0% APR for balance transfers. There is also 12 months with a 0% APR for new purchases. It’s a unique card in that there are no late fees, penalty fees, or an annual fee. Beyond the balance transfer, the card doesn’t have other frills.

Best for students: card_name

card_name

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full

Rewards rate: The card earns 3x on dining, grocery stores, popular streaming services, and entertainment.

Our take: The Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card earns the most bonus points in categories where many students spend the most money.

Best for bad credit or no credit history: card_name

card_name

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full

Rewards rate: None.

Our take: The Capital One Platinum Credit Card is one of the few credit cards that will consider borrowers who have fair, poor, or limited credit. There is no annual fee, but the APR is high. There is also a secured option for the Capital One Platinum Credit Card if you need an even more flexible option.

Best for sign-up bonus: card_name

card_name

The IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card

The IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full
With this IHG card, you get a free night certificate, are granted Platinum status, and earn 10 points per dollar from the card when you use it to pay for stays at IHG hotels. When you spend $20,000 on the card in a calendar year, you’ll get a $100 statement credit and 10,000 bonus miles, which more than offset the annual fee.

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full

Rewards rate: It earns up to 17x points on IHG stays, 3x on monthly bills, 3x on gas and restaurants, and 2x on everything else.

Our take: In addition to its generous welcome offer and rewards rate structure, this card also allows you to get an extra night free when you book three nights.

Best for fair/average credit: Citi Custom Cash® Card

Citi Custom Cash® Card

Citi Custom Cash® Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees

(Rates & Fees)

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full

Special Travel Offer: Earn an additional 4% cash back on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on Citi Travel℠ portal through 6/30/2025.

Rewards rate: The Citi Custom Cash® Card automatically selects your top earning category for 5% back in rewards each billing cycle (then 1% thereafter). Also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Our take: This card is ideal for consumers who don't want to invest a lot in order to earn significant cash back rewards on everyday spending.

Learn more from our full review.

Best for small businesses: card_name

card_name

IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

IHG Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full
This card will potentially earn you a large amount of points at IHG properties. The one thing to keep in mind with this card is the point value is considered much less than other cards. This means that the amount of points you earn may not go as far as with other cards. You may earn points faster with the elevated earnings structure, but the redemptions are also much higher.

Introductory Offer:

Earn 140,000 Bonus Points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Card Rewards:

  • Earn up to 26 total points per $1 spent when you stay at IHG Hotels and Resorts.
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on travel, gas stations, select advertising, and restaurants.
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Additional Benefits:

  • Enjoy an Anniversary Free Night at IHG Hotels & Resorts, plus a fourth reward night free when you redeem points for a consecutive four-night IHG® hotel stay.
  • Automatic Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier Business cardmember. Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS Statement Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card.
  • IHG One Rewards Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®.

Member FDIC

  • Balance transfer fee: balance_transfer_fees
  • Cash advance fee: cash_advance_fee
  • Foreign transaction fee: foreign_transaction_fee

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full

Rewards rate: The card_name earns a lot of rewards with 5x points earnings on travel, gas stations, dining, advertising on social media or search engines, and 3x points on all other purchases.

Our take: Spending at IHG properties could potentially net up to 26x points. When you redeem three nights, you get the fourth night free. There is also a free night awarded each year (capped at 40,000 points). The annual fee is $99. There are many other small business cards you may also want to consider.

The one thing to keep in mind with this card is the point value is considered much less than other cards. This means that the amount of points you earn may not go as far as with other cards. You may earn points faster with the elevated earnings structure, but the redemptions are also much higher. There may be better small business cards available from other issuers.

Best for dining rewards: card_name

card_name

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full

Rewards rate: This card offers 3x earnings on dining, supermarket, entertainment, and certain streaming services.

Our take: If you’re looking for a card with bonus earnings for dining and groceries, you may want to consider one with the word “savor” in the title. As a new cardmember, you will also earn a lucrative bonus.


Best Mastercard Credit Cards Comparison Chart

Card nameAnnual feesCredit score neededBonus rewards
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(Rates & Fees)

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credit_score_needed
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credit_score_needed
bonus_miles
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credit_score_needed
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(Rates & Fees)

credit_score_needed
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Our methodology

More than 40 Mastercards were evaluated for their potential to meet cardmember needs, such as cards best for travel rewards, cash back, students, and so on. The merits of each were considered, including APRs, annual fees, rewards, or credit-building features.

How to choose the best Mastercard credit card

Choosing a Mastercard should come down to what works for you. To choose a Mastercard that benefits you the most, consider the following:

Examine your lifestyle and spending habits

The best credit card for you may not be the one all your friends have. It’s cool to have a travel card, but if you spend most of your money on groceries and gas, you may want to choose a card that earns bonus points in those categories vs. one that earns bonus points on flights and hotels.

Look for a card you can qualify for

If you’re at a point where you still need to build your credit, you may want to hold off on applying for a premium rewards card. Building your credit with a secured credit card might be a route to consider.

Look for benefits you’ll actually use

When you’re looking at what cash back features and rewards are offered by a credit card, find one that offers bonus points or cash back in categories where you spend the most.

Avoid cards with limited redemptions

When you’re looking at cards side-by-side, keep in mind that you’re probably not seeing the full picture. A point earned on an IHG-branded credit card is very different from a point earned from a Capital One or a Citi credit card. This is largely because of what you can redeem these points for.

Points may be limited to redemptions with hotels that fall under the IHG hotel chain. There are other cards with Citi and Capital One that are attached to more flexible rewards programs, making a point with them much more valuable.

Alternatives to Mastercard credit cards

If you’re looking for a card that’s not associated with the Mastercard payment processing network, you’ll want to considerVisa and American Express.

Mastercard vs. Visa

Mastercard and Visa credit cards are both accepted worldwide and have a similar fee structure for merchants.

Visa and Mastercard have different levels of card membership. Visa has Traditional, Signature, and Infinite cards, which have progressively better levels of benefits and perks. MasterCard has Standard, World, and World Elite, which also have progressively more robust benefit levels

Specific credit cards are issued by Mastercard or Visa (or other issuers); you can’t choose which issuer you prefer. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a Visa card.

Since Mastercard and Visa are similar enough, it makes sense to pick the credit card you want based on its benefits rather than on whether it’s a Visa or Mastercard.

Mastercard vs. Amex

You’ll see the biggest difference between Amex and Mastercard if you travel internationally. You’ll notice that it can be hard to find a merchant that will accept your American Express card. Amex also issues its own cards, so the benefits that come with an American Express card are different from those on a Mastercard.

TIME Stamp: Choose a Mastercard that benefits your finances

If you’re looking for a Mastercard, you’ll want to evaluate how it can benefit your finances. You may want to look for one that earns rewards that you’ll actually use. You may also want to look for one that caters to your financial situation, such as if you need a student card or a secured card.

In any case, the list we’ve compiled is a step in the right direction towards finding a Mastercard that will benefit you the most.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is the best credit card from Mastercard?

The best Mastercard credit card is the one that suits your individual situation. If you’re looking for a robust travel rewards program, you may want to take a look at the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card. If you’re looking for a balance transfer card, take a look at the Citi Simplicity. For cash back, the Citi Double Cash, Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards, or Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card are worth considering.

What are some good Mastercards?

If you’re looking for a good Mastercard, consider one from our list above.

Is Amex or Mastercard better?

Whether or not Amex or Mastercard credit cards are better is highly subjective as both payment cards and networks have their merits. Mastercard is more widely accepted worldwide. Mastercard is not a credit card issuer, but American Express is.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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