If you’re looking for a secured credit card, you might be wondering if you should pick Visa over Mastercard or vice versa. Fortunately, you can’t really go wrong with either choice as Mastercard and Visa pretty much offer the same secured card benefits. Instead, compare your options based on the features and perks offered by the issuer.
Compare secured credit cards
Credit card networks vs. issuers: What’s the difference?
Credit card networks are companies that dictate the usage of credit cards between merchants and card users — think Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. Networks set fees that allow merchants to accept their product.
Credit card issuers are companies who lend credit out to the consumers. For example, you have a Visa credit card that is issued by Scotiabank — in this case, Scotiaback is the issuer and Visa is the network.
Look for these secured credit card benefits
A secured credit card is usually used as a credit building tool where you pay a deposit upfront to receive a credit limit on the card. Generally, secured cards from Visa and Mastercard offer similar benefits. The more important thing to consider is what you’ll get from your issuer. When considering a secured card, look at these factors:
Reporting to major credit bureaus. A secured card can help you build credit, but only if your provider reports your payment history to the major credit bureaus. Ask if your provider reports to TransUnion or Equifax.
Potential to graduate to an unsecured card. Some card providers will return your security deposit after a specified period of time. This effectively makes your secured card an unsecured card.
Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards in the world. Here’s the bottom line for Visas and Mastercards: If a merchant accepts one, they’ll most likely accept the other. So regardless of which secured card you choose, you can probably use it anywhere credit cards are accepted.
Chances of approval
It isn’t easier to get approved for one over the other. Instead, it’s more important to consider your card issuer. For example, some issuers have tight approval standards, while other issuers accept consumers with poor credit.
Depending on which product you’re approved for, Visa and Mastercard may offer:
Zero liability for unauthorized purchases. If your card is used without your knowledge, you won’t pay anything.
Cardholder assistance. Call a 24/7 hotline whenever you have problems with your card.
A Visa or Mastercard may come with additional features, however, these are usually available with their unsecured cards:
Auto rental collision damage waiver. An auto rental collision damage waiver (CDW) will reimburse you if your rental car is damaged or stolen.
Roadside assistance. If you have problems with your vehicle while you’re on the road, give a call to the roadside assistance hotline. Services include towing, tire changes, jump-starts, lockout service, fuel delivery and more.
Extended warranties. In many cases, your item’s original warranty is doubled if you’ve purchased it with your card.
Travel insurance. You may be covered for travel emergencies like trip cancellation and medical evacuation.
To see if a card offers these benefits, check with your issuer. Cards may offer different perks depending on issuers’ agreements with the card networks.
Both Visa and Mastercard offer good secured credit card options. Pick a secured credit card based on the features offered by the issuer if you want the best approach to selecting a secured credit card. Remember that while Visa and Mastercard occasionally provide additional benefits on their cards, these are typically restricted to their unsecured offerings.
Steven Dashiell is a credit cards writer at Finder. He's worked on 250 Finder articles and counting, helping readers embrace and maximize credit cards. Backed by nearly a decade of research and reporting experience, Steve's work can be seen on Debt.com, CreditCards.com and Lifehacker.
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