How Does ValuePenguin Get Paid?

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

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

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

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

Citi is an advertising partner

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.

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.

Emergency services

Travel Benefits

Purchase protection and insurance

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

Emergency services

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

Travel Benefits

Visa

  • 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

  • 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

Visa

  • 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
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver

Mastercard

  • 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
  • World Elite

Here are some of the common benefits:

All Mastercard levels offer some amount of purchase protection and insurance with their cards. World and World Elite Mastercard, however, offer the most. These services include:

  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection, which alerts you if fraudulent activity is detected and assists you with resolution
  • Cell phone protection up to $1,000 in yearly coverage
  • Global Emergency Services, which offers emergency assistance anytime, anywhere in any language.

There are a number of other protections and insurance options included with Mastercard as well; view the full list here.

World Elite Mastercards also come with concierge services that can schedule restaurant reservations or event tickets, or help with purchasing hard-to-find items. This is similar to the concierge benefit of The Platinum Card® from American Express, except this one doesn’t come with a $695 annual fee.

For World Mastercard users without access to World Elite Concierge services, you'll still be able to use the Mastercard Airport Concierge and the special Golf Concierge service through Priceless Golf.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here

Mastercard World and World Elite members will have access to amenities and upgrades at 3,000-plus properties worldwide. Though these amenities will vary depending on the property, you could get things like complimentary daily breakfast, amenity credits up to $100 and other valuable perks.

World and World Elite card members have access to a number of luxury event deals. You'll get special access to PGA Tour golf outings, access to Priceless Experiences (including film festivals and cooking lessons with private chefs) and more. For more information about ongoing World Elite promotions, check out their website.

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:

Visa offers tons of purchase protections and insurance options, even in their most basic tier. Features of Visa Signature and Visa Infinite cards include:

  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Trip delay, cancellation and interruption reimbursement
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Zero liability protection

For the full list, check out their website.

Visa Signature cardmembers can get special guest status at over 900 participating global hotels in the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection. Through this program, you'll have access to seven premium benefits. They are:

  • Best available rate guarantee (temporarily unavailable)
  • Automatic room upgrade upon arrival when available
  • Complimentary in-room Wi-Fi when available
  • Complimentary breakfast for two
  • $25 USD food or beverage credit
  • VIP guest status
  • Late checkout upon request when available

Visa Signature and Visa Infinite card members have access to numerous travel benefits, such as Global Entry statement credits, Priority Pass lounge access, special Visa Signature offers and rental car privileges. Frequent travelers will want to take advantage of these excellent perks, discounts and special offers.

Visa also provides its members with a suite of important emergency services. These include:

  • Roadside dispatch
  • Lost or stolen card reporting
  • Emergency replacement
  • Emergency cash disbursement

If you find yourself in a bind, your Visa card may be able to help.

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. Even with the most basic level Visa card, you'll still have access to features like:

  • Lost or stolen card reporting
  • Emergency card replacement
  • Emergency cash disbursement
  • Roadside dispatch
  • Zero liability

With Mastercard, at its most basic level, cardmembers will only get:

  • Zero liability protection
  • Access to Mastercard Global Service
  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection
{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3\u003EWhy is Visa better than Mastercard?\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EWhile both Visa and Mastercard are accepted virtually everywhere around the world, Visa cards offer slightly more benefits than Mastercard cards. Even with the most basic level Visa card, you'll still have access to features like:\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content ShortcodeList--content-margin\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--bullet\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Lost or stolen card reporting\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Emergency card replacement\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Emergency cash disbursement\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Roadside dispatch\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Zero liability\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EWith Mastercard, at its most basic level, cardmembers will only get:\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content ShortcodeList--content-margin\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--bullet\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Zero liability protection\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Access to Mastercard Global Service\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Mastercard ID Theft Protection\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

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.

How is Visa different from Mastercard?

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 their 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 or more hour delay, and Visa Infinite offers members $500 after a six or more-hour delay.

{"backgroundColor":"butter","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch2 id=\"How\"\u003EHow is Visa different from Mastercard?\u003C\/h2\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EBoth Visa and Mastercard have different levels of card membership that offer different perks and benefits. Here is how these levels compare:\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3\u003EVisa Signature vs. Mastercard World\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EOne 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 their cardholders.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EVisa 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.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3\u003EVisa Infinite vs. Mastercard World Elite\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EThe 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.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EVisa Infinite has all the same benefits as Visa Signature, though Infinite benefits are slightly enhanced. For example, both offer trip delay reimbursement \u2014 but while Visa Signature offers members $300 after a 12 or more hour delay, and Visa Infinite offers members $500 after a six or more-hour delay.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

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.

VISA
Mastercard
Global acceptance56.7 million47.7 million
Places accepted(Visa) More than 200 countries and territories More than 210 countries and territories (Mastercard)
Visa vs. Mastercard market share60%30%
Tiers
  • Traditional Visa
  • Visa Signature
  • Visa Infinite
  • Standard Mastercard
  • World Mastercard
  • World Elite Mastercard

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.

Mastercard vs. Visa FAQs

Is Visa more accepted than Mastercard?

Visa and Mastercard have equal global acceptance.

Who owns Mastercard?

Mastercard is a publicly traded company as of 2006.

Are Visa and Mastercard owned by the same company?

Both Visa and Mastercard are publicly traded companies.

Is Visa a private or public company?

Visa is a publicly traded company.

Is Visa an American company?

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

Is American Express an American company?

Yes, American Express is an American financial company.

Is American Express a private or public company?

American Express is a publicly traded company.

Which is better: Visa or Mastercard?

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.

What are the 4 types of credit cards?

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

What kind of company is American Express?

American Express is a publicly traded financial company that primarily issues credit cards.

Who is the owner of American Express card?

American Express is a publicly traded company.

Is American Express a financial institution?

Yes, American Express is a financial institution that primarily issues credit cards.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here

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

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).