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LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.
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American Express Disclosure
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

American Express Disclosure

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Visa vs. Mastercard: Is One Better Than the Other?

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When debating Visa vs. Mastercard, you’ll want to look into each network’s specific benefits if you feel strongly about choosing one over the other.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Visa and Mastercard are household names that are synonymous with credit cards, but did you know that these companies do not offer or issue credit cards? They are payment networks that partner with banks like Chase, Citibank and Capital One and process credit card payments made by customers of the bank. They are simply responsible for processing the payment between you and the businesses you shop at.

Together with the issuing bank, Visa and Mastercard offer a variety of benefits that are similar, like zero liability protection and cell phone protection. Visa and Mastercard both have three tiers of credit card benefits, with more exclusive perks and, usually, annual fees for the top tiers.

Choosing a card from one network over the other won’t make a substantial difference. The majority of the credit card features are managed and decided on by the issuing bank. However, certain perks can be unique to one or the other, and this guide will go over the most noteworthy benefits.

If you feel strongly about one of these benefits, you can call your issuer and see if they can switch your network. While not always possible, this method has been known to work and is worth trying.

 

On entry level cards, there is very little difference between Visa and Mastercard, as both provide a similar suite of basic features. However, Mastercard includes impressive special luxury offers on its World and World Elite level cards, which can be attractive for big spenders.

The tables below give a quick overview of the most important benefits on each card network, specifically for the following features:

Emergency services

VisaMastercard
Roadside dispatch
Lost or stolen card reporting
Travel and emergency assistance services
Emergency card replacement
Emergency cash advance

Travel benefits

VisaMastercard
  • Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection: discounts and benefits at over 900 properties
  • Visa Signature Concierge
  • Rental car privileges
  • Travel protections and emergency assistance
  • Global Entry statement credit
  • Priority Pass lounge access
  • Sonoma County winery events
  • Cardholder inquiry services
  • Mastercard exclusive offers
  • Priceless Experiences®
  • Mastercard Golf®
  • Complimentary professional travel services
  • Mastercard Hotel Stay Guarantee
  • Lowest hotel rate guarantee
  • Mastercard luxury hotel and resorts portfolio at 3,000 global properties
  • Free nights, car, RV, air
  • Mastercard Airport Concierge®

 Looking for credit cards with more travel benefits? See our picks for the best travel credit cards.

Purchase protection and insurance

VisaMastercard
  • Zero liability policy
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Trip cancellation / trip interruption reimbursement
  • Airline incidental fees
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Baggage delay reimbursement
  • Hotel theft protection
  • Cell phone protection
  • Emergency medical / dental
  • Price protection
  • Emergency evacuation
  • Return protection
  • Purchase security
  • Mastercard ID theft protection
  • Mastercard zero liability protection
  • Cell phone protection

 Learn more about credit card purchase protection and what is commonly covered.

Credit cards on the Mastercard network break down into three tiers, with each one containing all of the benefits and perks of the tier below it. In ascending order of exclusivity, these include:

  • Standard
  • World
  • World Elite

Here are some of the common benefits:

 Read more about our best Mastercard credit cards and why we chose them over the other options.

On the whole, Visa offers significantly more benefits overall than Mastercard, though the overarching categories are the same. Visa also operates with a three-tier structure, ranging from standard Visa Traditional to Visa Signature to Visa Infinite. While the Visa Traditional provides a few more benefits than the standard Mastercard, the base level Visa network doesn’t offer anything extravagant.

Visa Signature and Infinite cards are where most of the network’s benefits come into play. The best among these benefits include:

 Read more about our best Visa credit cards and why we chose them over the other options.

Why is Visa better than Mastercard?

While both Visa and Mastercard are accepted virtually everywhere around the world, Visa cards offer slightly more benefits than Mastercard cards.

Basic level Visa cardholders get:Basic level Mastercard cardholders get:
  • Lost or stolen card reporting
  • Emergency card replacement
  • Emergency cash disbursement
  • Roadside dispatch
  • Zero liability
  • Zero liability protection
  • Access to Mastercard Global Service
  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection

There are certain benefits both Visa and Mastercard provide. Some of these exist due to federal regulations, while others have become industry standards that issuers expect the networks provide for their cardholders.

Zero liability protection

Both Visa and Mastercard provide protection against unauthorized charges. If your credit card is used to make unauthorized or fraudulent purchases, you can report it to your issuer and have the transactions reversed. In such a scenario, Visa or Mastercard will be the ones to cover the cost.

Global emergency services

Visa offers travel and emergency assistance services for Visa Infinite cardholders, which will provide help in an emergency from anywhere in the world. Mastercard provides Global Emergency Services for every card level available anytime, anywhere and in any language: This can help you replace a lost or stolen card, get you a cash advance and more.

Cell phone protection

Both Visa and Mastercard offer some type of cell phone protection to give their cardholders peace of mind. Visa Signature members can get cell phone protection each month they pay their wireless bill with their Visa card.

World Mastercard also offers cell phone protection with $1,000 in yearly coverage ($600 max per claim, two claims per year) — should your cell phone get stolen or need certain repairs — when you pay your phone bill with your World Mastercard.

Read more about other credit card perks you should know.

Both Visa and Mastercard have different levels of card membership that offer different perks and benefits. Here is how these levels compare:

Visa Signature vs. Mastercard World

One step up from each network’s “standard” level, Visa Signature and Mastercard World have a lot to offer. While both of these offer benefits for purchase protection and insurance, travel benefits and emergency services, Visa Signature offers significantly more of them to its cardholders.

Visa Signature members have access to features like roadside dispatch, extended warranties, a Global Entry statement credit and more. Mastercard still has some additional offerings, but not nearly as many.

Visa Infinite vs. Mastercard World Elite

The highest levels of Visa and Mastercard are similar to the level below, encompassing all the previous level’s benefits and building on them. For example, with Mastercard World Elite, cardmembers get access to the World Elite Concierge, Priceless Cities, and enhanced offers and experiences.

Visa Infinite has all the same benefits as Visa Signature, though Infinite benefits are slightly enhanced. For example, both offer trip delay reimbursement — but while Visa Signature offers members $300 after a 12-hour or longer delay, and Visa Infinite offers members $500 after a six or more-hour delay.

 Compare LendingTree reviews for our best Visa credit card vs. our best Mastercard credit card.

VisaMastercard
Acceptance worldwideAccepted in 200+ countriesAccepted in 210 countries
Marketshare in the USA61%25.5%
Tiers
  • Traditional Visa
  • Visa Signature
  • Visa Infinite
  • Standard Mastercard
  • World Mastercard
  • World Elite Mastercard
Popular credit cardsBest Visa credit cardsBest Mastercard credit cards

Both Visa and Mastercard credit cards are generally accepted by the same merchants, anywhere you go. Therefore, any real choice between the two networks should only come down to which of their benefits you prefer.

American Express vs. Visa vs. Mastercard

American Express is accepted at 99% of places that take credit cards in the U.S. However, you may occasionally encounter a merchant that accepts Visa, Discover and Mastercard but not American Express. That’s because American Express charges a slightly higher transaction fee to merchants than the other networks, so some merchants don’t take Amex as a result.

American Express offers competitive benefits to Visa and Mastercards, including numerous travel perks, purchase protections and insurance, emergency services and more.

See our review for our choice for the best American Express credit card.

Discover vs. Visa vs. Mastercard

While 99% of places in the U.S. that take credit cards accept Discover, its international acceptance is much more limited (that said, its international presence is growing). Discover has the third-highest acceptance rate in the U.S. behind Visa and Mastercard, so it’s not a bad choice if you plan to mainly use your card domestically.

However, Discover has far fewer benefits across its cards than Visa, Mastercard and American Express, so whether or not you choose a Discover card will likely depend on the specific credit card you pick.

See our review for our choice for the best Discover credit card.

American ExpressDiscover
Acceptance worldwideAccepted in 140+ countriesAccepted internationally
Marketshare in the USA11.3%2.2%
Popular credit cardsBest American Express cardsBest Discover cards

*To see rates & fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

Deciding whether Visa or Mastercard is better depends on which network’s benefits you prefer, as they have about equal global acceptance. On the whole, Visa offers its cardmembers more benefits than Mastercard.

Mastercard is a publicly traded company as of 2006.

Visa and Mastercard have equal global acceptance.

Both Visa and Mastercard are publicly traded companies.

Visa is a publicly traded company as of 2008.

There are four major card networks in the U.S.: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express.

Yes, Visa is an American company that has expanded internationally.

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