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Visa vs. Mastercard — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Fiza Rafique — Updated on May 14, 2024
Visa and Mastercard are both global payment networks processing transactions but differ in market share and some specific benefits offered.
Visa vs. Mastercard — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Visa and Mastercard


Key Differences

Visa is a global payment technology company that facilitates electronic funds transfers throughout the world, primarily through Visa-branded credit and debit cards. On the other hand, Mastercard is another major player in the payment technology sector, offering similar services through its extensive network of member financial institutions.
Visa often has a larger market share in many regions, which can translate to slightly better acceptance globally, especially in certain remote areas. Whereas, Mastercard competes by offering unique perks and benefits, such as price protection and exclusive offers on rentals and hotels.
Both networks provide similar basic services such as fraud protection, zero liability policies, and global customer service. However, Mastercard sometimes offers more advantageous conditions in its premium products, like the World and World Elite Mastercard programs.
Regarding technological innovations, both companies strive to lead in areas like contactless payments, secure online transactions, and financial inclusion initiatives. However, Mastercard frequently pioneers experimental projects, such as biometric cards and blockchain transactions.
Both Visa and Mastercard do not issue cards directly; instead, they rely on member banks that issue cards, set interest rates, and provide rewards programs. While their core functionalities are similar, the choice often comes down to specific card issuer offerings rather than the network itself.

Comparison Chart

Global Acceptance

Very high global acceptance
High global acceptance

Market Share

Slightly higher in most markets
Competitive in most markets

Special Features

Fewer unique benefits
Often offers unique benefits like price protection

Technological Innovation

Strong in secure transactions
Often leads in experimental technologies

Types of Cards Offered

Standard, Gold, Platinum
Standard, World, World Elite

Compare with Definitions


A payment network that processes transactions for Visa-branded debit and credit cards.
Visa is accepted at millions of locations worldwide.


Offers several tiers of cards, including specialized rewards programs.
World Elite Mastercard offers luxury travel benefits.


Offers a range of cards from standard to premium with varying benefits.
Visa Platinum cards offer additional perks like extended warranty.


Competes closely with Visa in terms of technology and security.
Mastercard SecureCode enhances online transaction security.


Known for widespread acceptance and security features.
Visa cards often come with auto rental collision damage waiver.


Engages in innovative payment solutions including contactless payments.
Mastercard supports mobile payment solutions for faster checkouts.


Does not issue cards directly but through financial institutions.
Local banks provide Visa cards tailored to customer needs.


Known for offering unique benefits like price protection.
Mastercard’s price protection policy may refund the price difference of an item if found cheaper elsewhere.


An official authorization appended to a passport, permitting entry into and travel within a particular country or region subject to certain conditions, such as length of time and purpose of the visit.


A global payment network providing services through Mastercard-branded cards.
Mastercard facilitates international transactions effortlessly.


To endorse or ratify (a passport).


Mastercard Inc. (stylized as MasterCard from 1979 to 2016 and mastercard since 2016) is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in the Mastercard International Global Headquarters in Purchase, New York.


To give a visa to.


A permit to enter and leave a country, normally issued by the authorities of the country to be visited.
I came on a six-month tourist visa.


To endorse (a passport, etc.).


See Vis.


To indorse, after examination, with the word visé, as a passport; to visé.


An endorsement made in a passport that allows the bearer to enter the country issuing it


Provide (a passport) with a visa


Approve officially;
The list of speakers must be visaed


Facilitates fast and secure electronic funds transfers.
Visa's advanced technology ensures quick checkouts.

Common Curiosities

Can you use Visa and Mastercard worldwide?

Yes, both networks are globally accepted with Visa having a slight edge in acceptance.

What is the main difference between Visa and Mastercard?

Both offer similar basic services, but Visa typically has a larger global market share, while Mastercard offers more unique cardholder benefits.

Do Visa and Mastercard set interest rates on credit cards?

No, interest rates are set by the banks that issue the cards, not by Visa or Mastercard.

Which is better for international travel?

Both are widely accepted, but Mastercard's benefits like price protection and luxury travel offers can be more advantageous for travelers.

How do Visa and Mastercard handle fraudulent transactions?

Both offer zero liability protection, meaning you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges.

Which network is more innovative?

Mastercard often leads in adopting new technologies like blockchain and biometric security.

Which network offers better security features?

Both provide strong security features, but their effectiveness can depend on the specific card and issuer policies.

What are the perks of premium cards from Visa and Mastercard?

Premium cards from Visa and Mastercard offer perks such as extended warranties, travel insurance, and access to exclusive events.

Which card should I choose?

The choice between Visa and Mastercard should be based on the specific card offerings and rewards from your bank.

Are there differences in customer service between the two?

Customer service quality can vary more by card issuer than by network.

What kind of special programs do Visa and Mastercard offer?

Visa offers programs like Visa Signature, while Mastercard offers World and World Elite benefits.

How do Visa and Mastercard support small businesses?

Both offer programs aimed at small business efficiency, such as improved payment technologies and business rewards.

What's better for online shopping, Visa or Mastercard?

Both are widely accepted online; the best choice depends on the specific card features related to online shopping.

Can I get a Visa or Mastercard directly from the companies?

No, cards are issued by member banks and financial institutions.

Which card is better for earning rewards?

This depends on the specific card's rewards program offered by the issuing bank, rather than just the network.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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