Created by: Dave Harland | 7 January 2019

What’s the difference between Visa and Mastercard?

Mastercard and Visa are two separate credit card companies. While they don’t issue credit cards directly, banks and even some retailers issue branded cards by both companies.

When it comes to spending, Visa and Mastercard are very similar. But the main differences are card benefits, security schemes and the places they are accepted.

If you’re searching for a new card, it’s important to look for a credit card that suits your spending habits, offers the best rewards and saves you the most money.

A brief overview

Mastercard and Visa are two companies that process transactions that you make when you spend on a debit, credit or prepaid card.

While their logos will appear on your card, the companies don’t lend you money, run your account or take monthly payments from you. Instead, they provide their services to card issuers – or the bank or company that provided you with the card.

Visa and Mastercard don’t set your card terms or deal with you as a customer - your card issuer will do this.

What happens when I use my card?

  • Visa/Mastercard will check with your card issuer if the transaction should be declined or accepted.
  • They will confirm to the company accepting your payment whether or not it can be made.
  • They will process your payment between the retailer and your card provider.

Which card should I choose?

There are lots of Visa and Mastercard cards available and all offer a range of benefits and features. Before making a final decision, it’s important to do your research and shop around for the card that suits your lifestyle.

Once you’ve chosen the card that suits you, you can apply through the bank or card issuer – not through Mastercard or Visa.

Where can I use Mastercard or Visa?

Visa and Mastercard are accepted in over 20 million merchants in more than 150 countries.

Both companies also offer protection for online shopping. Mastercard uses a SecureCode scheme to protect users from card fraud and Visa uses Verified by Visa scheme.

Do they offer any card benefits?

Card benefits such as air miles or cashback come from your card issuer instead of Mastercard or Visa. But both companies do offer promotions.

Mastercard offers discounts and tickets to those who own a World Elite Mastercard. Visa offers dining, travel and shopping discounts for those who have one of their premium cards.

Other things to remember…

  • Fees, charges and interest rates are set by the card issuer, not Visa or Mastercard.
  • Visa and Mastercard both offer contactless payments but some card issuers don’t provide contactless cards.
  • Both companies work with mobile payments but not all card providers and banks offer this service.

Visa and Mastercard have very few differences but before choosing a credit card, it’s important to shop around to find the best one for you.

Mastercard Visa Card