VISA vs MasterCard Credit Cards: Which Are Better?

Get the Best Credit Cards in Singapore

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If you are looking for a new credit card for your wallet, you probably have wondered at least once if VISA or MasterCard would be better for you. Does one come with a better set of benefits and privileges than the other? To help you answer this question, we did a deep-dive analysis on the two payment giants to see how they compare.

Table of Contents

What Are VISA and Mastercard?

Most electronic payments are carried out by four companies: VISA, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. But neither VISA nor Mastercard are actually issuing debit or credit cards. Instead, their cards are issued through a co-branded relationship with commercial banks and financial institutions.

Both VISA and Mastercard:

  • Are the two largest payment processing networks
  • Make sure money exchange is carried out correctly and safely
  • Do not issue cards directly to consumers, only to partner banks
  • Do not set card's terms and conditions such as fees and rewards
  • Both can offer additional perks such as identity theft, fraud protection, car rental insurance and more
  • Both compete for co-branded relationships with banks

Comparison of Benefits: VISA vs MasterCard

There is actually very little difference between VISA and MasterCard's entry-level credit cards, as they both provide a similar set of basic features. However, there are meaningful differences between VISA and MasterCard’s special offers on their loyalty programs. These programs come with some luxury benefits that are meant to reward big spenders.

We’ve summarized the most important benefits of each card network in the table below. Then, we also discuss pros and cons of each issuer in the section below, where we do a deep-dive into their features.

CategoryVISAMasterCard
Protection offered
Benefits offered
Acceptance by countries
Acceptance by merchants

VISA Card Benefits

VISA credit cards come in three tiers: standard (which includes classic, gold and platinum), Signature and Infinite. The standard tier comes with a set of basic features like security, concierge and ATM access. All three cards offer similar protection such as zero liability policy, roadside dispatch and auto rental collision damage waiver. The higher tiers offer an even wider variety of travel-related protections.

The key difference between the cards becomes more apparent when it comes to their benefits and perks. While the Visa Traditional credit card does not offer any benefits, VISA Signature and Infinite cards provide lost luggage and trip delay reimbursements, airport lounge access, purchase security and many more benefits.

The offers and perks offered by the three cards mainly vary by the amount of car rental and hotel discounts offered and the number of companies you can choose from. The benefits and perks offered by the VISA Infinite card exceed the highest level usually offered, as it provides VIP services and perks in addition to the usual discounts on travel and rentals.

VISA Infinite cards are clearly designed for high spenders who both care about and can afford luxuries.You can read more about Signature and Infinite on VISA’s website.

VISA Card Offers and Perks

  • Car rental discounts
  • Bus tour discounts
  • Cruise discounts
  • Helicopter and seaplane tour discounts
  • Hotel and resort discounts
Visa Card TierProtectionBenefits
Standardon_current="true" Zero Liability Policy Roadside Dispatch Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver on_current="true"Check the issuing bank's terms
Signature
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Lost luggage/trip delay reimbursement
  • Travel accident Insurance
  • Global entry statement credit
  • Rebates for airline incidental fees
  • Airport lounge access
  • Hotel theft protection
  • Emergency medical/dental expense reimbursement
  • Purchase security
  • Price/return protection
Infinite
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • VISA Infinite car rental privileges
  • VIP Lounge access
  • VISA Infinite Gold Troon Rewards
  • VISA Luxury Hotel Hotel Collection VIP status benefits
  • 24/7 VISA Infinite Concierge
Each tier's benefits include those of the preceding tier

MasterCard Benefits

MasterCard also offers 3 tiers: Standard, World and World Elite. MasterCard's standard tier is similar to VISA's with basic features like security, concierge and ATM access. However, MasterCard definitely offers better VIP perks for its upper tiers than VISA's premium options.

For instance, MasterCard World and World Elite's perks provide SPG Gold access, which includes more and higher-quality hotels than VISA's Hilton program.MasterCard World and World Elite also give you a wallet protection benefit of up to $100 if you ever lose your wallet and online purchase insurance of up to $200 if your online purchase gets lost or damaged. Not only that, MasterCard World Elite also comes with free lounge access at over 600 airports around the world, as well as discounts on luxurious services like private jets.

Part of the benefits offered by Mastercard is a concept called Priceless Cities. It is a program for Mastercard cardholders which provides access to incredible experiences in cities around the world. Categories include travel, culinary, arts and culture, sports, shopping and entertainment. Tickets can be purchased online and offer either discounted pricing or unique access for Mastercard customers.

MasterCard Priceless Cities Categories

  • Travel
  • Culinary
  • Arts & Culture
  • Sports
  • Shopping
  • Entertainment
MasterCard Card TierProtectionBenefits
Standard
  • Zero liability protection
  • Price protection
  • Extended warranty on purchases
  • Mastercard Global Service
  • Identity theft protection
Priceless experiences (access to entertainment, culinary, sports and travel experiences)
World
  • Complimentary professional travel services
  • Hotel stay guarantee
  • Lowest hotel rate guarantee
  • Priceless Golf experiences
  • Mastercard luxury hotel and resorts portfolio
  • Car, air, cruise and vacation packages
  • Mastercard airport concierge
World EliteCell phone protection
  • Car sharing app credit
  • Movie ticket credit
  • World Elite concierge
Each tier's benefits include those of the preceding tier

Conclusion: Should You Get a VISA or a Mastercard?

For most people, it doesn’t really matter whether they get a VISA or a MasterCard. Both are equally secure and offer similar benefits. While VISA has a slightly higher market share and greater amount of transactions worldwide, both VISA and MasterCard are equally well-accepted by merchants.

Although MasterCard's upper tiers provide a better set of benefits, there are a lot more perks offered by the issuing banks themselves. You really need to consider each card individually before applying. For example, banks often provide benefits like annual fee waivers, cashback promotions and sign up bonuses, cash rebate, air miles and even travel insurance.

At the end of the day, any real choice between the two networks should always come down to how the actual terms, benefits and fees of a card fit with your budget. You can read our guide on the best credit cards in Singapore to find the perfect fit for you.

VISAMasterCard
Worldwide Purchase Transactions 2019 ( Billions)185.5108.4
Global Transaction Volume 2019$8.8 trillion$6.5 trillion
Global Acceptance46 Million Merchants33 Million Merchants
Total Revenue 2019$23 billion$16.9 billion

FAQs

VISA and Mastercard are the two largest global payments technology companies in the world. Both companies make the majority of their revenue from service and data processing fees. They each partner with banks to issue credit cards that work within their respective networks.

They don't issue cards directly to the public. Instead, they partner with financial institutions such as banks and issue cards via these banks to the public.

There aren't major differences between the two companies. VISA is slightly larger and has a higher transaction volume and a slightly higher level of global acceptance. However, MasterCard is accepted in more countries than VISA is. At the end of the day, the main differences between a VISA card and Mastercard will depend on the issuing bank which is the one deciding on the benefits, protection and rates offered.

The answer here ultimately boils down to your spending habits and activities. In addition, the benefits and perks offered by VISA and MasterCard do not necessarily guarantee that each VISA credit card issued by any bank will have the same benefits. Those benefits are mainly determined by the issuing bank, although VISA and MasterCard can take part in drafting the terms.

Actually, it's both. VISA cards can be broken down into three categories: debit cards, credit cards, prepaid and gift cards.

Duckju Kang

Duckju (DJ) is the founder and CEO of ValueChampion. He covers the financial services industry, consumer finance products, budgeting and investing. He previously worked at hedge funds such as Tiger Asia and Cadian Capital. He graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with honors, Magna Cum Laude. His work has been featured on major international media such as CNBC, Bloomberg, CNN, the Straits Times, Today and more.

Comments and Questions

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