Below are our staff ratings of 2019's top Mastercard® credit cards. Issued by a variety of banks globally, Mastercard® is accepted at more than 35 million locations worldwide. Our reviews follow strict editorial guidelines and are updated regularly.
3% Earnings on purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and office supply stores; 1% Earnings on all other purchases; plus, 5% Earnings on purchases of GM parts, accessories and service at authorized GM dealers - all of which can be exclusively redeemed toward the purchase or lease of an eligible, new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle
No annual fee, no limit to how much you can earn and redeem, and your Earnings don't expire on an open Account; plus, a 0% Intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months and a variable APR of 19.24% after that
Mastercard is one of the world’s largest payment giants. Rather than issuing cards like a bank, Mastercard created a payment network that allows merchants to to accept credit cards from Mastercard’s partner bank issuers. The network processes billions of credit and debit card transactions every year.
Mastercard also considers itself a technology company that has “been a driving force at the heart of commerce, making the global economy safer, more efficient, more inclusive and more transparent for all.”
Mastercard began in 1966
Mastercard started as the Interbank Card Association. Formed by 17 bankers who wanted reciprocal acceptance of credit cards, the ICA created a credit card called MasterCharge. At the time, it was a competitor with Bank of America’s BankAmericard, which later became Visa.
The Interbank Card Association was renamed Mastercard in 1979 to help establish a new global brand. In 1988, the growing payments company purchased Cirrus, the world’s largest ATM machine network, and combined it with Mastercard’s existing ATM network.
In 1991, Mastercard launched Maestro® – “the world‘s first truly global online debit program”- in partnership with Europay International. In 2002, Mastercard merged with Europay International.
The company is known for its award-winning “Priceless” advertising campaign, which launched in 1997 and continued for many years. By 2001, the company decided to take advantage of its expertise and launched Mastercard Advisors, which was “the largest global consultancy focused on the payments industry,” according to Mastercard.
After decades of global success
Mastercard went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2006. In the same year, they launched a new tagline, The Heart of Commerce™. In 2008, Mastercard began offering prepaid debit cards so consumers without bank accounts could still enjoy the convenience of shopping with plastic.
They launched Mastercard Labs in 2010 to help incubate ideas, striving to bring innovative new technology to the market. They offer contact-less cards and are helping drive the United States payment industry toward EMV (chip-and-PIN) credit cards.
Mastercard has continued to grow, and today the network's hundreds of partner cards are accepted in more than 210 countries around the world. But Mastercard is known for more than simply worldwide acceptance; its built-in cardholder benefits helped set the bar for modern credit cards.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
The information on this page was reviewed for accuracy on .
About the Author
Brittney is a Credit Strategist and Finance Expert who has spent years honing her knowledge of the credit industry both personally and professionally. Brittney applies her more than a decade of research experience to crafting in-depth consumer guides designed to help CardRates readers make better, more informed financial decisions.
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