Difference Between Visa Card and Master Card

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In the dynamic realm of global finance, where payment options are abundant and choices can be overwhelming, two names have consistently stood out as frontrunners: Visa and MasterCard.

These two giants of the credit card industry have not only revolutionised the way we make transactions but have also played a crucial role in shaping the modern economy.

In this comprehensive article, we will embark on a journey to provide you with a meticulous comparative overview of Visa and MasterCard. By exploring the core attributes, services, and unique features offered by these payment behemoths, we aim to equip you with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions regarding your financial transactions.

A General Overview of Visa Card

Visa, a multinational company from the United States, started in 1958 in California. It helps people around the world move money electronically using cards with the Visa logo.

While Visa doesn't give out credit cards itself, it makes special payment products for banks and other financial companies to give to their customers. Visa works in six different parts of the world and is the second biggest company for card payments.

Visa facilitates digital payments by offering a platform where transactions can take place — this is done through the Visa network. Individuals and businesses receive Visa Cards through partnerships with financial institutions, primarily banks, which have the option to collaborate with one or more service providers.

Visa cardholders can conveniently use their cards at nearly 1.9 million ATMs located in 200 countries worldwide. Typically, Visa Card numbers consist of 13 to 16 digits and begin with the digit 4.

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Benefits of Visa Card

Discussed below are the types of benefits of Visa cards -

  • Purchase Protection and Insurance - Visa offers several options for protection and insurance. This includes lost luggage reimbursement, zero liability protection, extended warranty protection, and trip delay, cancellation, and interruption reimbursement. 
  • Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection - With a Visa Signature credit card, you can get exclusive guest status at more than 900 hotels worldwide under Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection.

Some benefits of this option include -

  1. Assured competitive rates
  2. Automatic room upgradation upon approval (if applicable)
  3. Free in-room WiFi (if available)
  4. Complimentary breakfast for 2
  5. VIP guest status
  6. Food and beverage credit of up to USD 25
  7. Late checkout request option (if possible)

Types of Visa Card

Here are the types of Visa credit cards available in the UAE -

Visa Classic

The key features of Visa Classic are as follows -

  • Visa Global Customer Service Assistance offers round-the-clock access to customer support.
  • In case of an emergency, you can request a replacement for your card.
  • You have the option to obtain cash advances using the Visa Classic Credit Card.

Visa Gold

Listed below are the prominent features and benefits of Visa Gold credit cards -

  • These cards provide access to a range of promotions that can be utilised with Visa.
  • You can enjoy round-the-clock access to customer service, courtesy of Visa Global.
  • In case of an emergency, the card can be swiftly replaced.
  • This card qualifies for cash advances as well.
  • Visa Gold members are entitled to travel assistance, which includes complimentary medical and legal guidance.
  • You'll gain access to reward points and exclusive Visa member offers, such as - 
    • An 8% discount on hotel bookings made through Hotel.com using your Visa Card
    • A 20% discount at Roxy Cinemas

Visa Platinum 

Mentioned below are the major features of Visa Platinum credit cards -

  • Access to a range of promotions applicable to Visa cards
  • Enjoy round-the-clock customer service provided by Visa Global.
  • Facility to swiftly obtain a replacement card in case of emergencies
  • This card also qualifies for cash advances.
  • Access complimentary travel assistance service, which includes legal and medical guidance
  • Benefit from reward points and exclusive Visa member offers, such as:
    • A 20% discount at Roxy Cinemas
    • An 8% discount on hotel bookings through Hotel.com when using the Visa Card
  • These discounts and offers are subject to change, continually enhancing user benefits.
  • When you use the Visa Platinum card for any purchase — especially electronics and gadgets — your items are safeguarded against theft and damage.
  • A fantastic way to extend the warranty period for appliances or specific products purchased with the Platinum Visa card

Visa Signature

Designed to assist and provide discounts to frequent travellers, this credit card provides the following features and benefits -

  • Visa Global Assistant ensures round-the-clock emergency support
  • Entry to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide
  • When booking tickets with this card, enjoy travel insurance coverage for up to 90 days (valid for the primary cardholder and their family)
  • Benefit from the 24-hour concierge service for assistance with restaurant recommendations and reservations
  • Additionally, the card includes Dragon Pass, granting access to 200 airport restaurants.
  • Receive a generous 12% discount on hotels and accommodations through the Visa Agoda website
  • Rest easy with built-in protection against card fraud or theft.
  • Get an 8% discount on hotel bookings made through Hotel.com using this card.
  • With Purchase Protection, you can safeguard your purchases, especially electronics and gadgets, from theft and damage when using the Visa Signature card.
  • Extend the warranty period for appliances and select products purchased with the Signature Visa card, effectively doubling your coverage.

Visa Infinite

Primarily made for the elite class, these credit cards have a high spending limit and require a high income at the time of application. Discussed below are the key features and benefits of Visa Infinite credit card:

  • This card is universally accepted.
  • As a cardholder, you receive 24/7 global customer support.
  • This card provides access to an extensive array of exclusive offers.
  • Compared to other cards, this one boasts a higher credit limit.
  • Additionally, it includes Visa Infinite concierge services, which can provide information about nearby restaurants and assist with reservations, among other services.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to over 1,000 airport lounges.
  • Travel insurance is included for tickets purchased with this card, covering cardholders and their family members for up to 90 days — this coverage is double that of the signature card.
  • Purchase Protection, similar to the Signature and Platinum cards, guards against theft and damage for eligible purchases.
  • The credit card extends the warranty by one year, potentially saving you money on repairs or damages. It applies exclusively to products bought with the Visa Infinite card.
  • Receive a 12% discount on hotels and accommodations when booking through the Visa Agoda website
  • This card also offers robust protection against card fraud or theft
  • Enjoy an 8% discount on hotel bookings made through Hotel.com using this card

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A General Overview of MasterCard

Founded in 1966 and headquartered in Purchase, New York, MasterCard Incorporated is a prominent American multinational corporation. Its core mission revolves around facilitating payments between card-issuing banks and merchants.

MasterCard Worldwide transitioned into a publicly traded company in 2006, previously being collectively owned by a consortium of 25,000 financial institutions responsible for issuing branded cards.

MasterCard serves as a pivotal payment gateway, with a forward-thinking vision centred on revolutionising digital payment platforms. The company has forged strategic partnerships with numerous financial institutions to expand its global presence.

Furthermore, MasterCard has been a trailblazer in introducing contactless digital payment methods, wherein cards connect seamlessly to Wi-Fi networks, eliminating the need for PINs during transactions.

Benefits of MasterCard

Here are the salient features and benefits of MasterCard credit cards -

  • Purchase Protection and Insurance - Each tier of MasterCard provides a degree of purchase safeguard and insurance to cardholders. World and World Elite MasterCard, on the other hand, provide the most extensive coverage. These offerings  encompass:
  1. MasterCard ID Theft Protection, which notifies you in case of suspicious transactions and aids in resolving such issues
  2. Yearly coverage for cell phone protection
  3. Global Emergency Services, ensuring round-the-clock emergency assistance in any location and language
  • Concierge Services - World Elite MasterCards provide access to concierge services, which allows you to arrange restaurant bookings, secure event tickets, or get assistance in procuring rare items. Even if you're a World MasterCard holder without access to World Elite Concierge services, you can always utilise the MasterCard Airport Concierge and the exclusive Priceless Golf Golf Concierge service.
  • MasterCard Luxury Hotel and Resorts Portfolio - Members of MasterCard World and World Elite can enjoy exclusive privileges and enhancements at over 3,000 properties across the globe. While the specific offerings of these privileges differ from one property to another, they usually encompass benefits such as daily complimentary breakfast, amenity credits, and a range of valuable advantages.
  • Luxury Event Details - Members holding World and World Elite cards enjoy exclusive access to a range of premium event offers. This includes unique privileges such as access to PGA Tour golf events and the opportunity to partake in Priceless Experiences like film festivals or private chef-led cooking lessons.

Types of MasterCard

Listed below are the types of MasterCard credit cards along with their key features -

Gold MasterCard

Have a look at the benefits of Gold MasterCard credit cards -

  • Contactless payments are welcomed at numerous establishments.
  • You can access numerous ATMs with ease.
  • Furthermore, this card provides entry to exclusive ‘Priceless’ experience.

Titanium MasterCard

The following are the benefits of Titanium MasterCard credit cards -

  • Enjoy entry to 10 airport lounges located in the Middle East.
  • Receive a 20% price reduction on Careem rides.
  • Avail a discount of as much as 15% when using Avis rental services.
  • Explore fresh and exciting lifestyle encounters with the ‘Priceless Experience’.
  • Rest assured with complete security - you won't be held liable for unauthorised transactions.
  • The embedded chips provide an extra layer of safeguarding for your cards.
  • Embrace the growing trend of contactless payments (available with all MasterCards) that eliminatesPlatinum MasterCard credit card - the need for PIN entry.

Platinum MasterCard

Check out the major features and benefits of Platinum MasterCard credit cards -

  • Get access to around 25 Airport Lounges located in the Middle East.
  • Enjoy a 30% discount on reservations made through Cleartrip.
  • Avail of a 20% price cut when booking rides through Careem.
  • Receive discounts of up to 15% on Avis rental services.
  • Benefit from a 15% discount when reserving luxury apartments in both South Africa and the Middle East.
  • Be safeguarded against unauthorised transactions with Zero Liability protection.
  • The increasing trend of contactless payments is supported by all MasterCards, which eliminates the need to input your PIN.
  • Explore novel lifestyle experiences with the ‘Priceless Experience’.
  • Access shopping promotions at 9 retail villages throughout Europe.
  • This card also includes purchase protection in case of accidental damage or theft.

World MasterCard

Listed below are the features and benefits of World MasterCard credit card -

  • Enjoy free entry to nearly 850 airport lounges across the globe.
  • Receive a 10% price reduction when booking one of 2,000 luxurious onefinestay serviced apartments in prominent cities like London, Paris, Milan, Florence, New York, Rome, and more.
  • Receive complimentary nights during your stay at Marriott Bonvoy Hotels.
  • Gain access to Hertz Gold Plus rewards, which greatly simplify your car rental experience.
  • Access over 900 ‘buy one get one’ free offers through the MasterCard app.
  • Benefit from shopping deals at nine European shopping villages.
  • Secure comprehensive travel insurance, covering baggage loss, baggage delay, flight cancellations, and delays, with a total coverage of up to US $10,000.
  • Additionally, booking with MasterCard grants you travel medical insurance. This offers financial protection against accidents, emergency evacuation, and more for your trips.

World Elite MasterCard

This MasterCard is a premium offering that allows users to enjoy the utmost benefits of a luxurious lifestyle. Unlike other cards, this one boasts a significantly higher spending limit. Here are the features and advantages of the World Elite MasterCard credit card:

  • Gain complimentary access to over 850 lounges.
  • Enjoy a 10% rebate on over 2,000 luxury apartments in top cities like London, Florence, Paris, Rome, and New York, offered by onefinestay.
  • Get complimentary nights when you stay at Marriott Bonvoy Hotels. You can also access over 200 partner hotels, where booking a stay of 2 nights gets you one complimentary night, and booking 6 nights stay brings you two complimentary nights.
  • Gain an exclusive DISCOVERY black membership with Global Hotel Alliance Discovery, granting access to 550 luxurious hotels.
  • Access substantial discounts on roundtrip airfare bookings through Cleartrip.
  • Enjoy a 25% discount when booking rental cars with AVIS.
  • Receive value-added benefits when booking with Lushescapes like complimentary breakfast, room upgrades, and dining or spa coupons.
  • Benefit from personalised 24/7 concierge assistance to help you find restaurants, make reservations, and more.
  • Get a 20% discount on Careem rides when using this card.
  • Access shopping offers at 9 shopping villages across Europe.
  • Enjoy over 900 ‘buy one get one’ offers through the MasterCard app.
  • Obtain comprehensive travel insurance covering baggage loss, baggage delay, flight cancellations, and delays, with coverage totaling USD 10,000.
  • Receive insurance coverage for accidents and emergency evacuation assistance.
  • Secure rental car protection or coverage for damages with this card's insurance.

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Similarities between Visa and MasterCard

In order to qualify for a credit card, both Visa and MasterCard necessitate a well-maintained credit Score. The ultimate decision regarding approval of your application lies with the bank backing the card, not the credit card companies themselves. A similar principle applies to fees, with banks typically determining these charges rather than Visa or MasterCard.

When selecting a card, it's essential not to solely rely on the card's name. Instead, conduct thorough research to ensure you get precisely what you seek. For instance, if you opt for a business credit card, both Visa and MasterCard offer special corporate deals. These deals can include discounts of up to 15% or more on eligible merchants, which are automatically credited to the cardholder's statement.

Difference between Visa Card and MasterCard

From a consumer's perspective, there is virtually no distinction between MasterCard and Visa. Both Visa and MasterCard depend on banks to issue credit cards that employ their payment systems.

Consequently, the annual fees, reward points, interest rates, and all other associated charges are determined by the bank rather than the credit card company. Similarly, when settling your credit card bill, you make payments to the financial institution that issued the card rather than Visa or MasterCard.

With that said, while Visa and MasterCard credit cards share many similarities, they are not entirely indistinguishable. Let’s look at the table below for the major differences between Visa and MasterCard credit cards -

Basis Visa Card MasterCard Card
Service Fee The cost that you incur depends on the volume of your card usage. An amount, determined by the proportion of worldwide transactions, is charged.
Transaction The quantity of cards in circulation and the volume of purchases made with them are greater. The number of cards currently in circulation is lower.
Contactless Payment Uses Visa PayWave Uses PayPass

Which One is Better - Visa or MasterCard? Make a Choice

As mentioned earlier, there exist notable resemblances between Visa and MasterCard as payment networks. Both corporations provide an array of globally accepted prepaid, credit, and debit card choices, alongside a commendable array of security features.

The critical determinants influencing your credit card selection – such as fees, interest rates, rewards, and benefits – are actually unrelated to the credit card companies themselves. Rather, they depend on the issuing bank. This underscores the importance of exploring various financial institutions to identify the most favourable terms available to you.

Irrespective of whether you opt for Visa or MasterCard, it's essential to recognise that you must still fulfil the issuing bank's prerequisites for obtaining cards. These prerequisites include undergoing credit score assessments, employment verification, and potentially meeting any additional approval criteria set forth by various financial institutions.

Seeking guidance from personal finance consultants at different banks is a prudent approach to ascertain the types of cards that you may qualify for. Some institutions may even provide a direct comparison between their card offerings and those of their competitors, aiding you in streamlining your search.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Who issues MasterCard and Visa credit cards?

Ans: Visa and MasterCard don’t directly issue credit cards themselves. Instead, they grant licences to financial institutions such as banks and credit unions that allow these institutions to issue cards and utilise the necessary payment technology.

Besides issuing cards, banks and other financial institutions also have the authority to determine transaction fees, rewards programs, and additional benefits for cardholders.

Q2. Do Visa and MasterCard offer similar benefits?

Ans: Visa generally offers a broader range of advantages for its basic credit cards than MasterCard, which typically designates its premium cardholder perks for its top-tier products.

Q3. Who offers better rewards and benefits?

Ans: The incentives provided by Visa or MasterCard predominantly depend on the issuing bank. While the types of incentives may exhibit significant diversity, they can be typically categorised into four groups — low-fee credit cards, premium credit cards, rewards credit cards, and frequent flyer credit cards.

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