Visa vs. Mastercard: Is One Better Than the Other?
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.
Visa and Mastercard both offer extremely similar benefits, and choosing one over the other won’t make a substantial difference. The major credit card features are managed and decided on by the issuer (e.g. Chase or Citibank). 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.
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Benefits comparison: Visa vs. Mastercard
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 table below gives a quick overview of the most important benefits on each card network.
|Lost or stolen card reporting|
|Travel and emergency assistance services|
|Emergency card replacement|
|Emergency cash advance|
- 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
- Visa Signature offers and perks
- Cardholder inquiry Services
- Mastercard exclusive offers
- Priceless Experiences
- Priceless 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®
Purchase protection and insurance
- 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
What are the benefits of Mastercard?
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 (doesn’t offer much that is especially noteworthy)
- World Elite
Here are some of the common benefits:
What are the benefits of Visa cards?
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 include:
What standard benefits do both Visa and Mastercard provide?
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.
Brief statistics on Mastercard vs. Visa
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.
|Global acceptance||56.7 million||47.7 million|
|Places accepted||(Visa) More than 200 countries and territories More than 210 countries and territories (Mastercard)|
|Visa vs. Mastercard market share||60%||30%|
Visa vs. Mastercard vs. other issuers
Visa and Mastercard aren’t the only issuers out there. While not quite as widely as accepted, Discover and American Express are still noteworthy networks that offer great customer benefits.
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 can be used at 54.6 million merchants worldwide, which is less than the 56.7 million that take Visa.
That said, American Express offers competitive benefits to Visa and Mastercards, including numerous travel perks, purchase protections and insurance, emergency services and more.
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.
To see rates & fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express please click here.