Globally, there are twice as many transactions on Visa cards compared to Mastercard. However, things appear to be a bit more even in Middle East, especially UAE. In fact, some of my favorite credit cards in UAE are Mastercard including Citi Prestige, ADCB Traveller and Emirates NBD Marriott.
Unknown to many, Mastercard plastics come with a host of benefits. While some are specific to UAE, others are applicable to the entire Middle East.
In this post, I will be discussing the benefits in detail. However, before we do that, it is important to understand the different variants of Mastercard credit cards.
There are four variants of Mastercard – Titanium, Platinum, World and World Elite. This is in increasing order of ‘premium-ness’, World Elite being the most premium card.
It should be easy to know which variant of card you are holding. Usually, the type is mentioned in the name itself e.g. Standard Chartered Platinum Credit Card. However, in some cases, the variant is mentioned on the card e.g. Citi Prestige is a World Elite card.
Let us look at the benefits now.
1. Free Travel Insurance
Both World and World Elite credit cards offer free travel insurance and travel insurance letter. As you may know, travel insurance letter is a mandatory requirement for a few countries (e.g. Schengen visa) while applying for a visa.
Platinum credit card does not offer travel insurance. However, Platinum prepaid card does.
While I have not claimed insurance benefit yet, I have used the travel insurance letter a few times. Both on my ADCB World Credit Card and Citi Prestige World Elite Credit Card. The process is very simple. You need to visit this website and select your card variant.
Upon selecting the variant, you can click on ‘Travel Insurance Letter’ and fill in the details. The letter would be sent to your email and can be used for visa purposes.
World cards also offer Purchase protection and insurance against ATM robbery. World Elite card goes one step further and additionally offers complimentary rental collision and loss damage waiver.
2. Free Airport Lounge Access
Mastercard offers unlimited airport lounge access through LoungeKey for all its World cardholders including supplementary cardholders. For World Elite members, it is even better (one of the reasons why Citi Prestige is my favorite card). Both primary and secondary cardholders can bring one guest each.
The list of lounges is available on LoungeKey website.
Platinum and Titanium cards also provide limited airport lounge access – the list would be different for each bank.
3. Free Nights at Marriott Properties in Middle East
World and World Elite members get complimentary nights at over 200 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels across Middle East and Africa. You can get one of the following depending upon the property
- One complimentary night when booking two nights
- One complimentary night when booking three nights
- Two complimentary nights when booking six nights
To avail this benefit, you need to visit www.marriott.com/mastercardmea.
While this looks like a great benefit, I have noticed the rates offered on this portal are higher than those offered at Marriott website. Therefore, it is best to check before making bookings.
4. Discounted Rides on Careem
You can get 20% discount on up to 3 rides every month by adding your Mastercard credit card to your Careem account and using the promotional code ‘MASTERCARD’. Usually, this is promoted as a benefit of World and World Elite cards. However, I had used it on my Titanium card as well and it worked fine.
5. Discount on Flights Booked Via Cleartrip
If you are a Platinum Mastercard holder, you can get discounts on international round-trip flights and hotel bookings. You need to use the coupon code ‘MASTERCARD’.
For flight bookings, the discount is structured as:
|Number of Travelers||Discount Percentage||Maximum Cap (AED)|
For hotel bookings, the following discount is offered:
|Number of Room Nights||Discount Percentage||Maximum Cap (AED)|
For Mastercard World and World Elite members, the discount and coupon code is different. You need to use the code ‘MCWORLD’ and you receive 10% discount on international flight bookings. This discount is not capped but is applicable only on base fare.
6. Free but Limited Version of The Entertainer (Buy 1 Get 1 Free Offers)
Mastercard has partnered with The Entertainer to come up with a stripped-down version of its popular app. Upon entering your Mastercard credentials, you can get Buy-1-Get-1 offers across a variety of merchants including dining, leisure, home services etc.
Remember, this is not the full version of Entertainer. That does not come free.
7. Complimentary Discovery Black Membership
I had discussed the GHA Discovery hotel loyalty program previously. With over 550 hotels in 75+ countries the complimentary upgrade to Discovery Black membership could be very useful. Usually, this is offered to members who have stayed 30+ nights.
These are the benefits provided for Black members
- Local amenity upon check-in
- One local experience per calendar year
- One local experience when staying at a new DISCOVERY brand for the first time
- Guaranteed room availability at least 24 hours prior to arrival
- Double room upgrade at check-in (subject to availability)
- Late check-out privileges until 6pm (subject to availability)
- Early check-in privileges starting at 9am (subject to availability)
There are some great local experiences, especially in Middle East. It ranges from airport transfers to dinner in a palace.
Further, the double room upgrade for Discovery Black members can be very lucrative. Difference between basic rooms and suits in some of these properties is huge. However, I have never tried it so I am not sure how easy it would be to receive an upgrade.
8. Complimentary Qatar Gold Membership
As a World Elite Mastercard holder, you receive complimentary upgrade to Gold membership in Qatar Privilege Club. This is the third tier of Qatar Privilege membership. The benefits are
- 75% bonus miles on Qatar Airways flights
Priority check-in at Hamad International Airport, Doha
- 15 kg excess baggage allowance
Some of these benefits may not be useful to UAE residents. However, it is important to remember that Qatar Airways is part of Oneworld alliance. Gold membership at Qatar Airways matches you to the Oneworld Sapphire membership. This provides you some great benefits which you can use at any airport
- Access to Business class lounge across airports
- Priority check-in
- Prirority baggage
- Extra baggage allowance
To avail these benefits, you can fly on any Oneworld airline regardless of class of travel. To reiterate, these lounges cannot be ordinarily accessed by PriorityPass or LoungeKey. For example, at Dubai airport (DXB), you can access the British Airways Lounge (Terminal 1) with your Oneworld Sapphire status.
9. Complimentary Hertz Gold Plus Rewards® Five Star Membership
With a complimentary Gold Plus membership, you get benefits such as
- Up to 15% discount worldwide, including Hertz Collections vehicles
- Faster and easier car rental with Gold Plus Rewards
- Free One Car Class Upgrade for Five Star members
- Free additional driver for spouse or partner
Visit www.hertz.com/mcworld to get the benefit.
As I mentioned before, not many people are aware of these benefits. I keep running into people who own the Emirates NBD Marriott Card but are not aware ‘easy to score’ benefits like free travel insurance and discounted Careem rides.
Along with Emirates NBD, Citi Prestige and ADCB Travellers are some of the popular cards in the World and World Elite category. At present, Citi is offering AED 1,500 of statement credit if you sign up for Citi Prestige or Emirates-Citibank Ultima credit card. You can apply through this link if you wish (link).