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 is now accepted in more than 210 countries and territories, second only to Visa in global acceptance. The network partners with a wide range of issuers, including both major banks and community credit unions.
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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 is a contributing editor for CardRates.com, where she uses her extensive research background to write comprehensive consumer guides and in-depth company profiles. Leveraging her vast knowledge of the financial industry, Brittney’s work can be found on websites such as MarketWatch, US News & World Report, NBC News, Kiplinger, National Foundation for Credit Counseling, TheSimpleDollar.com, BadCredit.org, CreditSoup.com, and CreditCards.com, among others. Brittney specializes in translating complex financial jargon and ideas into readable, actionable advice on lending best practices.
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