Visa vs Mastercard: what’s the difference?
Visa and Mastercard are the two largest payment networks, both with billions of cards with their labels around the world. If you’re trying to choose between Visa and Mastercard, whether you’re looking for a debit card or a credit card, know that both are great options.
However, there are a few key differences to keep in mind when shopping. Here is the comparison between Mastercard and Visa from top to bottom.
Acceptance – Where can you use your card?
The most important thing about any credit card is that you can use it wherever you intend to spend the money, and it depends on the card network. It is not uncommon to come across a merchant who does not accept American Express and Discover cards, especially when traveling abroad.
However, when comparing Visa and Mastercard in terms of acceptance, the difference is minimal – most companies that accept a credit or debit card accept both. Mastercard and Visa cards are accepted at millions of businesses in more than 200 countries around the world. According to recent regulatory reports, nearly 3.3 billion Visa cards are in circulation worldwide. About 2.4 billion cards carry the Mastercard brand name.
There are, however, a few notable exceptions. For example, Costco only accepts Visa cards due to a special offer with the payment network and the bank’s issuer (Citi). That said, you are unlikely to notice much difference in acceptance rates when using a Mastercard versus Visa.
If you are loyal to a particular financial institution, the debate between Visa and Mastercard might hinge on the loyalty of your preferred bank or your credit card issuer. Some of the larger card issuers only issue cards over a network or prioritize one over the other. We took a look at some of the largest card issuers to see which networks they favor between Visa and Mastercard.
- Bank of America: This mega-bank doesn’t seem to pick the favorites, offering various refund and travel cards on the Visa and Mastercard network. It’s quite interesting, since the previous bank of Bank of America spawned the company that became Visa as we know it today.
- Citi: This large bank has a clear preference for Mastercard. Among the cards in its range, only one, the card co-branded with Costco, is a Visa card. Its main travel cards are all issued as World Elite Mastercard®.
- chase away: One of the largest card issuers in the neighborhood, Chase issues almost exclusively Visa cards, with the exception of two co-branded hotel cards and the new card in its own Freedom line. Visa and Chase have a long-established relationship, a relationship that looks unlikely to change anytime soon.
- Capital One: Visa and Mastercard share the duty of helping Capital One cardholders make plastic payments. Notable exceptions are its corporate credit cards, all of which are issued on the Visa network.
- American Bank: Visa cards are number one at US Bank, but this card issuer also has a few American Express cards up its sleeve.
- Wells fargo: As for due diligence, you will only find Visa or American Express inside.
Naturally, some card users prefer to keep all their accounts in one place and thus favor one bank over another. Others want to use a single transmitter to pool their rewards and benefits. If this is the case for you, the response to Mastercard versus Visa will depend on your preferred card issuer.
Types of Visa cards
Part of comparing Visa and Mastercard is understanding the different types of credit cards offered by each payment network. Visa cards are generally of three different types, easily identified by the mark that appears on the card.
- Traditional visa: This is the “basic” Visa level that you will most often find on credit cards that offer lower credit limits and limited rewards programs.
- Visa Signature®: Typically, the Visa Signature® mark is typically found on cash back rewards and higher level travel cards. Whether or not you receive a Visa Signature® often depends on the credit limit of the card. Some issuers, such as Chase, specifically state in their terms and conditions that Visa Signature® cards are only issued when an applicant is approved for a line of credit of $ 5,000 or more.
- Visa Infinite®: This branding is reserved for the highest tier credit cards, often those that offer high rewards, but generally have a high annual fee ($ 400 or more). Cards that bear the Visa Infinite® logos typically offer credit limits that start at $ 10,000 and above.
The main difference between the brand is in the benefits you receive when using the card. Some selected benefits are detailed in the table below.