The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Sunday, December 8, 2019
Header Background

2019's Best Mastercard® Credit Cards

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 40 million locations worldwide.

Average APR
Average Annual Fee
Rate Trend
since last month

Disclosure: When you apply through links on our site, we often earn referral fees from partners. For more, see our ad disclosure and review policy.

How Mastercard® Came to Be

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Finance Contributor
How Mastercard® Came to Be Guide: Mastercard®

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 Mayer Brittney Mayer Finance Contributor

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.

Brittney Mayer

Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. See the credit card issuer's website for specific terms and conditions of each card.