Payment giant MasterCard (NYSE:MA) has entered the shipping arena. The company just announced a new program it's calling "Free Shipping by MasterCard" -- but there are a lot of conditions.

MasterCard customers can get complimentary two-day shipping under the free-subscription model if:

  • They pay with a MasterCard (OK, this point is obvious).
  • They purchase items from partnered companies, a short list that presently includes Macy's, Kohl's, Wal-Mart, QVC, and Best Buy.
  • They make their purchases through MasterCard's portal site.
  • They pay for the two-day shipping up front (they're reimbursed up to $20 per order by MasterCard later).

For a $69 year-long subscription, the retailer pool expands to 30 more participants.

Motley Fool analyst Jason Moser observes that MasterCard is trying to play the trend of free shipping, which has become a feature many consumers expect thanks in part to Amazon.com's Prime membership. But Jason's skeptical of MasterCard's free-shipping program, given how convoluted the process is, especially in comparison to the seamless experience Amazon provides.