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Visa vs. Mastercard: Which is better?

Both Visa and Mastercard offer worldwide acceptance, travel benefits and other enticing perks.

Visa and Mastercard are the largest credit card processing companies globally and in Canada. Each offers a range of benefits that vary by card provider – but which should you choose? We break down the differences between Visa and Mastercard credit cards and consider the pros and cons of each.

Compare Visa and Mastercard credit cards

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
Refresh Financial Secured Card
N/A
N/A
17.99%
$12.95
Min. recommended credit score: Any score
The Refresh Secured Card has no credit check, a low annual fee and guaranteed approval once you secure your card with anywhere from $200 - $10,000.
Scotiabank Value Visa Card
0.99% rate on balance transfers for 6 months
N/A
12.99%
$29
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by February 28, 2022.
Home Trust Secured Visa (No Annual Fee)
N/A
N/A
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: Any score
The no annual fee Home Trust Secured card comes with a standard 19.99% purchase and cash advance rate. Apply with any credit score and start rebuilding your credit.
Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card
Up to 5% cash back
1% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn 5% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases). Plus, get a 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months with no balance transfer fee. Apply by January 1, 2022.
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card
Fee rebate
Up to 4% cash back per $1 spent
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 750
Pay no annual fee in the first year, including on supplementary cards. Apply by January 1, 2022.
Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card
5,000 points
Up to 5 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn 5,000 bonus Scene+ points when you spend a minimum of $750 on eligible purchases in the first three months as a new SCENE Visa cardholder. Apply by February 28, 2022.
Scotiabank GM Visa Card
N/A
Up to 5% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn 5% in GM Earnings on all eligible purchases on the first $5,000 annual spend, and 2% thereafter.
Scotiabank GM Visa Infinite Card
No first year annual fee
Up to 5% cash back
19.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($79 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get the annual fee waived in the first year on the primary card as well as any supplementary cards. Apply by February 28, 2022.
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card
30,000 points
Up to 5 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($139 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 750
Earn up to 30,000 bonus Scene+ points in your first year (that’s up to $300 towards travel). Plus, get the annual fee waived in the first year and earn 5x Scene+ points on travel for the first 3 months (up to $2,500 spend). Apply by February 28, 2022.
ScotiaGold Passport Visa Card
5,000 points
1 point per $1 spent
19.99%
$110
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Receive 5,000 bonus Scene+ points when you make your first eligible purchase. Eligible purchase must be posted to your account within 2 months of account opening. Apply by February 28, 2022.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
Finder Award
OFFER
HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
30,000 Points
2x points per $1 spent
11.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($25 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 630
Get 30,000 Points (up to $150 in value) when you spend $2,000 in the first 6 months. Plus, get the 1st year annual fee waived for the primary cardholder ($25 value). Apply by January 31, 2022.
BMO CashBack Mastercard
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to max. spend of $2,000). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
Tangerine World Mastercard
15% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an extra 15% cash back (up to $150) on up to $1,000 of everyday purchases in the first 2 months Until January 31, 2022. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
Neo Financial Credit Card
N/A
Average 5% cash back
19.99% - 24.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an average 5% cashback at thousands of partners and at least 1% cashback guaranteed. Neo partners with major gas and grocery stores, restaurants, gyms, coffee shops and more.
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
3.99% rate on balance transfers for 9 months
N/A
12.99%
$20
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
Brim Mastercard
Up to $200 worth of bonuses
1 point per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to $200 worth of bonus points when you shop with Brim retailers for the first time through the Brim mobile app.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
15% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn an extra 15% cash back (up to $150) on up to $1,000 of everyday purchases in the first 2 months Until January 31, 2022. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
BMO Rewards Mastercard
10,000 points
Up to 2 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 725
Get a bonus of 10,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO World Elite Mastercard
30,000 points
Up to 3 points per $1 spent
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get up to 30,000 points and the $150 annual fee waived in the first year.
Brim World Mastercard
Up to $300 worth of bonuses
1.5 points for every $1 spent
19.99%
$99
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to $300 worth of bonus points when you shop with Brim retailers for the first time through the Brim mobile app. 
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What’s the difference between Visa and Mastercard?

Visa and Mastercard provide the technology and networks required for processing card payments. They’re the largest card processors in the world, and their products are accepted by millions of merchants around the world.

Networks vs issuers

Visa and Mastercard are networks – neither of them issue credit cards, unlike American Express which is both a network and an issuer. That’s why you might get your credit card from RBC, but the bottom corner of the card will have a Visa logo.

Things to consider when comparing Visa and Mastercard credit cards

  • Annual fee. Some Visa and Mastercard credit cards come with annual fees. Depending on the card you choose from either, the fee could be anywhere from $0 to upwards of $800.
  • Interest rates. Both Visa and Mastercard have competitive interest rates, usually sitting between 8-24%, however sometimes it can be higher.
  • Promotional offers. Many credit cards come with balance transfer offers or an annual fee waiver for the first year. Compare the length of the promotion and any other factors involved, such as interest rates.
  • Rewards. Many Visa and Mastercard credit cards are linked to rewards programs and travel programs. When comparing rewards cards, consider the earn rate and your average spending to determine the cards value to you.
  • Limits and expiration for rewards points. It’s important to know that your points won’t expire before you rack them up. Similarly, if you spend a lot and there’s a limit on the amount of points you can earn, you’re missing out on major points.
  • Card issuer perks. Credit card providers may offer a range of additional perks, including airport lounge access, concierge services, travel and hotel credits and loyalty program upgrades.
  • Customer service. Both Visa and Mastercard have generally good reputations for customer service.
  • Complimentary insurance. Visa and Mastercard have premium credit cards that offer complimentary insurance when you pay for your travel in full with the card. This kind of insurance is usually included with premium cards such as World Mastercard credit cards and Visa Infinite cards. It’s important to understand the terms and conditions of complimentary insurance coverage before you apply for a card.

Mastercard credit cards

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Visa and Mastercard market share

VisaMastercard
Market capitalization (value)Approx. $325 billionApprox. $230 billion
Employees15,000+13,400+
Number of cards in circulation worldwide838.3+ million388.4+ million
Winner?checkmark

Visa is the bigger company by a significant margin, although in recent years, Mastercard has substantially increased its market share – bridging the gap between these two credit card giants.

Visa credit cards

Here are a few statistics on worldwide acceptance:

VisaMastercard
Number of countries200+210+
Number of merchantsApprox. 40 millionApprox. 40 million
Cash advance locations2.3+ million2.1+ million
Winner?TieTie
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What features and services do Visa and Mastercard offer?

Visa and Mastercard have a wide range of benefits that providers can offer. These include:

  • Contactless payments. Credit cards with Visa payWave or Mastercard Tap & Go® let you make payments by waving your card over compatible readers. You can add contactless Visa and Mastercard credit cards to mobile payment services.
  • Premium cards. Visa and Mastercard both provide standard and premium products. For example, you’ll find Visa Classic, Infinite and Infinite Privilege cards as well as Standard, World and World Elite Mastercard products. Benefits vary by card provider but might include comprehensive travel insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty and more.
  • Exclusive offers. Premium Visa and Mastercard products might include access to concierge services and airport lounges, exclusive discounts on hotels, as well as access to special events and offers.
  • Global cardmember services. Visa’s Travel and Emergency Assistance Services and Mastercard’s Global Service provide emergency card replacements and cash advances when you’re travelling overseas.
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Pros and cons of Visa and Mastercard credit cards

Pros and cons of Mastercard credit cards

  • Accepted in slightly more countries worldwide.
  • Widely accepted by merchants.
  • Less cash advance locations worldwide than Visa.

Pros and cons of Visa credit cards

  • More cash advance locations worldwide.
  • Widely accepted by merchants.
  • Accepted in fewer countries worldwide than Mastercard.

The verdict

Both Visa and Mastercard are excellent networks that are widely accepted by merchants both across Canada and worldwide. That’s good news, as it means you can choose from a massive variety of credit cards.

Instead of asking which processor is better, think of which benefits are most important to you. This could include rewards points, balance transfer offers, signup bonuses, low interest rates, no annual fees and more. Then, look for the specific card that checks these boxes and ultimately meets your spending habits and financial needs.

Best of both worlds

Visa and Mastercard both offer a wide variety of benefits, such as purchase protection and travel insurance coverage. However, you might not find these extras with every card.

If these features are important to you, consider applying for a premium Visa or Mastercard – for example, a Visa Infinite or a World Mastercard. The high-end card will likely offer a wealth of extra benefits that a standard credit card won’t. While these premium cards usually come with high annual fees, the fee could be worth it if you make good use of the perks and rewards.

Bottom line

Visa and Mastercard are the two biggest credit card networks worldwide, and you’ll find excellent credit cards from both. Don’t pick your card based on the network, and instead consider products based on their individual features.

If you’re not sure if Visa or Mastercard is right for you, compare a range of credit cards in our guide.

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Frequently asked questions

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