World Mastercard or World Elite Mastercard – Which Is Better?

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Last updated on May 4, 2022

Today there seems to be a never-ending array of premium credit cards with enticing perks and rewards, and it can be tough to navigate your way around the fine print to figure out just what the heck you’re getting for your annual fee.

Among the most popular—if least clearly understood—Canadian credit card designations are the World Mastercard and World Elite Mastercard programs. It’s easy to dismiss the addition of “World” and “Elite” as just an attention-getting, look-how-special-you-are gimmick. But there are differences between the two.

World Mastercard and World Elite Mastercard Comparison Chart

When I first got my BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite Mastercard®* a couple of years ago, I assumed that the World Elite Mastercard moniker was just something the company threw on to add a sense of status to the card. Turns out that these Mastercard designations do correspond to higher-tier features, though they’re not necessarily consistent from one card issuer to the next. Here’s a comparison of some of the distinguishing features that might come with World and/or World Elite Mastercards:

FeatureWorld MastercardWorld Elite Mastercard
Minimum Annual Income Requirement$60,000 individual or $100,000 household$80,000 individual or $150,000 household
Extended Warranty
Purchase Protection
Priceless CitiesProvided by some World Mastercards, though not all
Price ProtectionRarely offeredRarely offered
Travel Insurance Benefits Provided by some World Mastercards; coverage may be limitedProvided by all World Elite Mastercards; coverage can be quite comprehensive
Airport Lounge AccessLounge membership provided by some World Mastercards; does not include free lounge visitsLounge membership provided by all World Elite Mastercards; some cards include free annual lounge visits

Though the basic Mastercard does have some potentially attractive perks (see below), the World Mastercard and World Elite Mastercard offer a lot more bells and whistles. To understand the added incentives, we need to first step back and check out what comes standard with most Mastercards.

Mastercard Standard Program

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Mastercard has three levels of credit cards: Standard, World and World Elite. A Standard Mastercard comes with a very low or no annual fee and offers a basic level of perks.

Unfortunately, unlike what appears to be the case with the American Mastercard program levels, the Canadian Mastercard tiers are not as strictly delineated. The Mastercard website is careful to list potential features of its Standard cards with the carefully crafted caveat “the selection of benefits on your card varies by card type and by card issuer. Contact your issuing financial institution for complete coverage terms and conditions.” But in general, these are the most popular basic Mastercard offerings:

  • Zero Liability: You’re not liable if someone makes unauthorized purchases with your card.
  • Mastercard Global Service: You’ll have access to 24/7 emergency assistance in almost any language to help you with things like cancelling a stolen card, getting an emergency replacement card, locating an ATM and more.
  • Purchase Protection: Mastercard will reimburse you if an eligible item you charged to the card is damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase.
  • Extended Warranty: Mastercard will double the original manufacturer’s warranty of 12 months or less if you purchased the item with your Mastercard.

It’s good to know that even if you don’t want to shell out for a hefty annual fee, Mastercard offers cardholders some quality basic benefits. That being said, sometimes a high annual fee on a premium card can be worth the extra perks. Keep in mind, however, that you should consult your credit card provider to confirm what perks your card features.

World Mastercard Program

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World Mastercard is the second tier of Mastercard programs, and can be thought of as the middle child of Mastercard credit card offerings. World Mastercards require a higher minimum annual income than Standard Mastercards: At least $60,000 for an individual applicant or at least $100,000 in combined income for a household. Some World Mastercards may come with an annual fee, usually (but not always) less than $100. They also feature all the benefits of a standard Mastercard—zero liability, purchase protection and extended warranty—but may add quite a few more perks to either justify an annual fee or draw the interest of those with a higher annual income. World Mastercard features may include:

Priceless Cities

This experiential benefit gives World Mastercard cardholders the chance to enjoy (for an additional fee) exclusive, one-of-a-kind experiences in select cities around the world, like a multi-course meal with a Michelin-starred chef or a VIP concert experience.

Concierge Services

Get your own personal assistant who can help you with things like making dinner reservations, shopping and restaurant suggestions, securing concert tickets and even arranging to buy and deliver gifts. Click here to learn more about concierge services.

Special Offers

World Mastercard cardholders receive exclusive offers for things like discounts at select stores and rental car agencies, hotel upgrades, and more.

Mobile Device Insurance

World Mastercards offering this feature will cover up to $1,000 toward the cost of a mobile device that is lost, stolen, damaged, or that experiences mechanical failure, provided the device was purchased with the World Mastercard in question.

Recommended Read: Best Credit Cards with Mobile Device Insurance.

World Mastercards

Below are examples of World Mastercards that offer substantial value, despite having low or no annual fees.

Tangerine World Mastercard®

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Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Fair-Good
– Minimum Income: $60,000 individual/$100,000 household
– Age: 18+/Age of majority
– Residency: Canadian Citizen/Permanent Resident
– Other: No bankruptcy for the past 7 years

The Tangerine World Mastercard® is unusual among cash back cards, in that it allows you to truly tailor the cash back you earn according to your specific spending habits. Cardholders can choose from 10 different spending categories (including groceries, gas, restaurants, etc.), selecting two categories where they’ll earn 2% cash back. A third 2% category is available to those that elect to deposit their earned cash back into a Tangerine Savings account.

The card also offers the most impressive overall benefit package among all World Mastercards in Canada, packing in enough value-added features to outshine even some World Elite Mastercards. Highlights include free access to over one million Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots around the world; up to 31 days of car rental insurance; up to $1,000 worth of mobile device insurance; and complimentary membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences Provided by LoungeKey, permitting access to over 1,000 LoungeKey airport lounges worldwide ($32 USD per lounge visit).

Those who do not meet the Tangerine World Mastercard’s income requirements may instead qualify for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card, which offers similarly flexible cash back, though without the raft of additional benefits provided by the World Mastercard.

Special 10% cash back rate on the first $1,000 spent with the card ($100 cash back) in the first two months*, apply by July 31, 2022.

Key Features

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Cash Back Rates: 2% in up to three purchase categories of your choice; 0.5% on all other eligible purchases
  • Balance Transfer Promo: 1.95% interest for 6 months (19.95% after) + 1% balance transfer fee
  • Additional Benefits: Free Boingo Wi-Fi access; mobile device insurance; car rental insurance; complimentary LoungeKey membership; and more.

*Terms and Conditions apply

PC Financial® World Mastercard®

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Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Fair-Good
– Minimum Income: $60,000 individual/$100,000 household
– Age: Age of majority in your province or territory
– Residency: Resident of Canada

 

The PC Financial® World Mastercard® is a good card for those who shop frequently within the President’s Choice store network, earning between 20–35 PC Optimum points per $1 spent with PC merchants (including Loblaw-affiliated grocery stores, Esso and Mobil gas stations, and Shoppers Drug Mart), and 10 points per $1 spent everywhere else. 10K points can be redeemed for $10 against purchases made within the President’s Choice store network, which works out to return rates between 1%–3.5% per purchase.

Unfortunately the PC Financial® World Mastercard® doesn’t come with many of the extra goodies we might typically associate with a World Mastercard. Its one standout World Mastercard feature is concierge service, in which cardholders have access to 24/7 assistance in booking dining and event reservations. Otherwise the card does not come with goodies like extra insurance protections or airport lounge access.

Key Features

  • Rewards Rates: 10–35 PC Optimum points per $1 spent
  • Interest Rates: 20.97% on purchases; 22.97% on cash advances (21.97% in Quebec)
  • Additional Benefits: Concierge service; Purchase Assurance; Extended Warranty

Click here to apply for the PC Financial® World Mastercard®

MBNA Smart Cash® World Mastercard®

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Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Fair-Good
– Minimum Income: $60,000 individual/$100,000 household
– Age: Age of majority in your province or territory
– Residency: Resident of Canada
– This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

The MBNA Smart Cash® World Mastercard® is a good choice for Canadians who spend a lot on groceries and gas but don’t want to spend too much on an annual credit card fee. The card is easy to rack up cash back with, offering a straightforward cash back rate of 1% for all purchases, aside from gas and groceries, which enjoy a boosted rate of 2% cash back. The 2% rate applies through the first $500 spent on gas and groceries combined each month; after passing that spending mark the rate drops to 1% until the next month starts.

The MBNA Smart Cash® World Mastercard® also features a generous bonus offer for new cardholders, with the usual 2% cash back rate on groceries and gas boosted to 5% for the first 6 months. However, the bonus offer is also subject to the same monthly spending cap–once you pass $500 in monthly gas and grocery spending the earn rate drops to 1% until a new month begins.

Key Features

  • Annual Fee: $39
  • Cash Back Rates: 5% introductory cash back rate on gas and groceries for the first 6 months; 2% cash back on gas and groceries when the 6-month promo period ends (spending limits apply); 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Additional Benefits: Rental car insurance, price protection, purchase assurance, and extended warranty. Discount at eligible rental car companies
  • Interest Rates: 19.99% on purchases; 24.99% on cash advances; 22.99% on balance transfers

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete MBNA Smart Cash® World Mastercard® review.

Sponsored advertising. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and TD is not responsible for the contents of this site including any editorials or reviews that may appear on this site. For complete information on this MBNA credit card, please click on the “Apply Now” button.

World Elite Mastercard Program

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In my opinion it’s debatable whether the World Elite category is inherently superior to its World counterpart, and the value of the designation really depends on the card it’s applied to. Two major differences are as follows: World Elite Mastercards have higher minimum annual income requirements, at $80,000 for individual applicants and $150,000 for households. Furthermore, World Elite Mastercards typically come with a $120–$150 annual fee (with some exceptions), and this annual fee should correspond to a benefit package superior to that offered by a World Mastercard.

Below are a few of the benefits that may be more robust among World Elite cards.

Travel Insurance

Though some World Mastercards may offer limited levels of travel insurance in one or two categories, World Elite Mastercards are more likely to offer comprehensive coverage, including:

  • Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver Insurance: If you pay for your rental with your Mastercard, it will cover you for damage and theft.
  • Travel Medical Insurance/Travel Accident and Emergency Medical Insurance: You, your spouse and your dependents are covered for any medical emergencies/death or dismemberment that occurs when you travel anywhere in the world.
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance: If your trip is interrupted or cancelled, you’ll be reimbursed.
  • Baggage Delay Insurance: You’ll be reimbursed for replacing personal or business items if your baggage is delayed.
  • Lost or Damaged Luggage Insurance: Reimburses you for either repairing or replacing your checked or carry-on baggage if it’s lost or damaged during your flight.
  • Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance: You’ll be reimbursed for any personal property that’s stolen from a hotel or motel room.

Lounge Access

Another big benefit of the “Elite” Mastercard category is airport lounge access, making the “Elite” program especially appealing for globetrotters. Some World Mastercards may offer complimentary membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences Provided by LoungeKey, allowing cardholders to access LoungeKey airport lounges for $32 USD per visit. But this feature is more standard among World Elite Mastercards, and a select few World Elite cards offer a number of free lounge visits each year.

Price Protection

Not many people are aware of this fantastic perk. With price protection if you find a lower price for an item you bought within 60 days from the purchase date, Mastercard will reimburse the price difference. NOTE: This perk is relatively rare even in the World and World Elite Mastercard categories, but according to the Mastercard website, it’s indeed available for some standard cards, depending on your card issuer. Read here for more info.

World Elite Mastercards

Below are examples of World Elite Mastercards that impress me by either offering enough overall value to more than make up for their annual fee; or by charging no annual fee at all.

BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*

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Eligibility Criteria:
– Credit score required: 
Excellent
– Min personal income required: $80,000
– Annual fees: $150 first year waiver*

The major distinguishing feature of this card is its airport access, which is the best I’ve seen in the World Elite category. You’ll get complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass,* with four annual complimentary passes. It also has generous travel insurance offering a full 21 days of emergency medical coverage if you’re under 65*.

Presently it has a welcome offer that allows you to get up to 60,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.* This card nets you 5x the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases,* 3x the points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and entertainment purchases and recurring bill payments,* 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else.*

Apply here or learn more by reading our complete BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*.

*Terms and conditions apply

Rogers World Elite Mastercard

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Eligibility Criteria:
– Credit score required: 
Good-Excellent
– Min personal income required: $80,000
– Annual fees: $0

The “wow” factor with this card is that it’s one of the few credit cards I’m aware of with a “World Elite” designation that has no annual fee. Also impressive is that you’ll get 3% unlimited cash back rewards on purchases made in U.S. dollars—this kind of perk is rare among Canadian credit cards, no matter their category.

You also get 1.5% cash back rewards on all other domestic spending. You’ll earn $25 in cash back rewards when you make your first card purchase within 3 months.

The card comes with a LoungeKey membership, but you’ll have to pay an additional $27US every time you want access to a lounge.

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete Rogers World Elite Mastercard review.

Alaska Airlines® World Elite® Mastercard® credit card

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Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Fair-Good
– Minimum Income: $80,000 individual/$150,000 household
– Age: Age of majority in your province or territory
– Residency: Resident of Canada
– This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

If you’re a frequent flier in search of a credit card that will help you and a travel companion soar the skies together, the Alaska Airlines® World Elite® Mastercard® credit card might be a good match. New cardholders receive 30,000 bonus Miles when they spend $1,000 or more on eligible purchases in their first 90 days after opening their account. Every $1 spent on tickets, vacation packages, and cargo services from Alaska Airlines will net 3 Miles; all other purchases earn 1 Mile per $1 spent.

But the standout benefit of the Alaska Airlines® World Elite® Mastercard® credit card is probably its companion fare feature, which is offered by relatively few Canadian credit cards. Every year on your account anniversary you can buy a round-trip companion fare for only $99 ($121 USD incl. fees and taxes), redeemable for a coach class seat on an Alaska Airlines flight within the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Hawaii, or Mexico.

* It’s important to note that Alaska Airlines does have a significant drawback: Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary are the only cities they fly out of in Canada, which will probably make this card relevant only for those residing in or near those Western Canadian hubs.

Key Features

  • Annual Fee: $99
  • Reward Rates: 3 Miles on every $1 you spend on tickets, vacation packages, and cargo services from Alaska Airlines; 1 Mile per $1 for all other purchases
  • Additional Benefits: Yearly Companion Fare; free checked bag for you and your travel companions; price protection, etc.
  • Interest Rates: 19.99% on purchases; 22.99% on cash advances, and 22.99% on balance transfers

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete Alaska Airlines® World Elite® Mastercard® credit card review.

Is the Elite Lite on Benefits?

While World Elite Mastercards are usually a step up from cards in the Standard and World Mastercard categories, it’s up to each individual cardholder to decide if the benefits of being “Elite” are worth the extra fee that often comes with the World Elite program. For me, because I travel often and frequently endure long layovers, paying a little more for an Elite card with some form of airport lounge access is worth it.

 

Recommended Read: Visa Infinite vs. World Elite Mastercard.

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Author Bio

Sandra MacGregor
Sandra MacGregor has been writing about finance and travel for nearly a decade. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications like the New York Times, the UK Telegraph, the Washington Post, Forbes.com and the Toronto Star. She spends her free time travelling, and has lived around the globe, including in Paris, South Korea and Cape Town. You can follow her on Twitter at @MacgregorWrites.

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