Visa vs Mastercard: Which is better?

Both Visa and Mastercard offer convenient worldwide access, card security and other perks. But how do they compare?

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When it comes to choosing a credit card, debit card or prepaid card, you usually have the option of a Visa or a Mastercard. These are the two major card-processing companies used in the UK, followed by American Express.

Each Visa or Mastercard credit card is independently issued by a bank or other provider that also offers a range of features and services to customers across their networks. Most banks and card providers don’t give you a choice between Mastercard or Visa, so you’ll probably find it more relevant to your decision-making process to focus on the features offered by a particular card and the provider in general.

Generally, there are very little differences between the two networks and you will rarely deal with Visa or Mastercard directly (it would usually be through your card provider). However, if you’re trying to decide between these two options, here we compare Visa and Mastercard features side-by-side to see how they stack up.

What are Visa and Mastercard?

Visa and Mastercard provide the technology and networks required for processing card payments. So if you buy an item with a Visa credit card, for example, the transaction will be processed on Visa’s network from the shop to the relevant bank or banks (including your own). Similarly, Mastercard credit card transactions are processed via the Mastercard payment network. These two companies are the largest card processors in the world, and their cards are accepted at millions of shops and other providers all over the globe. Generally, you will find most shops accept both Visa and Mastercard payments.

Individual banks and other financial institutions issue Visa or Mastercard credit cards based on the payment processing network they want to use. Whichever network is used, the company’s logo will be visible on the card. A few providers even offer both Visa and Mastercard options. In regards to specific card features, such as interest rates, annual fees, rewards programmes and introductory offers, it is ultimately the card issuer that decides what will be available on specific cards.

Traditionally, Visa has dominated the UK debit card market, but this is set to change. Santander and TSB will start issuing Mastercard debit cards in 2019, joining Virgin Money, Citibank, Clydesdale Bank, Yorkshire Bank and Metro Bank, which already provide Mastercard debit cards.

Compare Mastercards by type

Comparison is ordered by representative APR with affiliated products shown first.
Updated April 2nd, 2020
Name Product Balance transfers Balance transfer fee Purchases Annual/monthly fees Rep. APR Incentive Representative example
The Royal Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card (eligibility criteria apply)
0% for 20 months reverting to 19.9%
0%
Transfers must be made within 3 months of account opening
0% for 3 months reverting to 19.9% p.a. (variable)
£0
19.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable), your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
The NatWest Balance Transfer Credit Card (eligibility criteria apply)
0% for 20 months reverting to 19.9%.
0%
Transfers must be made within 3 months of account opening
0% for 3 months reverting to 19.9% p.a. (variable)
£0
19.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable), your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
TSB Advance Mastercard
0% for 3 months reverting to 7.95%
0% for 3 months reverting to 3%
0% for 3 months reverting to 7.95%
£0
7.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 7.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 7.9% APR (variable).
Bank of Ireland UK Queens Affinity Mastercard
0% for 9 months reverting to 17.9%
2.98%
0% for 3 months reverting to 17.9%
£0
17.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 17.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 17.9% APR (variable).
Bank of Ireland UK Ulster Rugby Affinity Mastercard
0% for 6 months reverting to 17.9%
2.98%
0% for 6 months reverting to 17.9%
£0
17.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 17.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 17.9% APR (variable).
Maximiles Mastercard
0% for 9 months reverting to 17.9%
5% (min. £5)
0% for 3 months reverting to 17.9%
£0
17.9% (variable)
Earn 1 Maximiles point for every £1 spent. 5000 bonus points when you make your first card purchase.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 17.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 17.9% APR (variable).
Albion Mastercard
0% for 6 months reverting to 18.9%
5% (min. £5)
18.9%
£0
18.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 18.9% APR (variable).
Wolves Mastercard
0% for 6 months reverting to 18.9%
5% (min. £5)
18.9%
£0
18.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 18.9% APR (variable).

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated April 2nd, 2020
Name Product Purchases Balance transfers Annual/monthly fees Rep. APR Incentive Representative example
The Royal Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card (eligibility criteria apply)
0% for 3 months reverting to 19.9% p.a. (variable)
0% for 20 months reverting to 19.9%
£0
19.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable), your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
The NatWest Balance Transfer Credit Card (eligibility criteria apply)
0% for 3 months reverting to 19.9% p.a. (variable)
0% for 20 months reverting to 19.9%.
£0
19.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable), your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
TSB Advance Mastercard
0% for 3 months reverting to 7.95%
0% for 3 months reverting to 7.95%
£0
7.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 7.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 7.9% APR (variable).
Bank of Ireland UK Student Mastercard
0% for 3 months reverting to 17.9%
N/A
£0
17.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 17.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 17.9% APR (variable).
Bank of Ireland UK Queens Affinity Mastercard
0% for 3 months reverting to 17.9%
0% for 9 months reverting to 17.9%
£0
17.9% (variable)
A one-off payment to Queens University Alumni plus percentage of annual turnover.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 17.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 17.9% APR (variable).
Bank of Ireland UK Ulster Rugby Affinity Mastercard
0% for 6 months reverting to 17.9%
0% for 6 months reverting to 17.9%
£0
17.9% (variable)
A one-off payment to Rugby Club/school of choice plus percentage of annual turnover.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 17.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 17.9% APR (variable).
Maximiles Mastercard
0% for 3 months reverting to 17.9%
0% for 9 months reverting to 17.9%
£0
17.9% (variable)
Earn 1 Maximiles point for every £1 spent. 5000 bonus points when you make your first card purchase.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 17.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 17.9% APR (variable).
HSBC Premier Credit Card Mastercard
0% for 9 months reverting to 18.9%
0% for 18 months reverting to 18.9%
£0
18.9% (variable)
A selection of rewards from a range of partners. Earn 1 point for every £1 spent within the UK and earn 2 points for every £1 spent outside the UK. Points can be redeemed for shopping vouchers and frequent flyer miles.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 18.9% APR (variable).

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated April 2nd, 2020
Name Product Purchases Balance transfers Annual/monthly fees Rep. APR Incentive Representative example
Santander All in One Credit Card Mastercard
0% for 26 months reverting to 15.9%
0% for 26 months reverting to 15.9%
£3 per month
21.7% (variable)
0.5% after £1 of monthly spend. Cashback paid Monthly into Card Account. Maximum spend for cashback purposes is limited to credit limit.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 15.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £3 per month, your representative rate is 21.7% APR (variable).
Santander World Elite Mastercard
0% for 18 months reverting to 18.9%
0% for 18 months reverting to 18.9%
£15 per month
49.8% (variable)
0.5% on £1 to £3000 of monthly spend. Maximum of £15 cashback paid per month. Cashback paid Monthly into Card Account. Maximum spend for cashback purposes is limited to credit limit.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £15 per month, your representative rate is 49.8% APR (variable).

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated April 2nd, 2020
Name Product Purchases Balance transfers Annual/monthly fees Rep. APR Incentive Representative example
Tandem Bank Journey Credit Card Mastercard
24.9%
N/A
£0
24.9% (variable)
No fees for making purchases or withdrawing cash abroad – currencies are converted at the standard Mastercard exchange rate.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable).
Ulster Bank Credit Card Mastercard
9.9%
6.9%
£0
9.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
The Royal Bank Credit Card
9.9%
6.9%
£0
9.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
The NatWest Credit Card
9.9%
6.9%
£0
9.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
Santander Zero Credit Card Mastercard
0% for 12 months reverting to 18.9%
0% for 1 months reverting to 18.9%
£0
18.9% (variable)
Retailer offers - 5 Welcome offers of up to 25% cashback at well-known retailers (must switch on Retailer Offers within 60 days of activating card).
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 18.9% APR (variable).
Halifax Clarity Credit Card Mastercard
19.95%
19.95%
£0
19.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
Santander All in One Credit Card Mastercard
0% for 26 months reverting to 15.9%
0% for 26 months reverting to 15.9%
£3 per month
21.7% (variable)
0.5% after £1 of monthly spend. Cashback paid Monthly into Card Account. Maximum spend for cashback purposes is limited to credit limit.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 15.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £3 per month, your representative rate is 21.7% APR (variable).
Virgin Money 12 Month Travel Credit Card Mastercard
0% for 12 months reverting to 21.9%
0% for 12 months reverting to 21.9%
£0
21.9% (variable)
Earn cashback when you shop online with over 500 top brands with Virgin Money Back.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).

Compare up to 4 providers

Compare Visa cards by type

Comparison is ordered by representative APR with affiliated products shown first.
Updated April 2nd, 2020
Name Product Balance transfers Balance transfer fee Purchases Annual/monthly fees Rep. APR Incentive Representative example
first direct Credit Card Visa
0% for 27 months reverting to 18.9%
2.29% (min. £5) for 3 months reverting to 2.9% (min. £5)
18.9%
£0
18.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 18.9% APR (variable).
Nationwide Member Credit Card All Rounder Offer
0% for 15 months reverting to 19.9%
1.5% (min. £5) for 3 months reverting to 2.4% (min. £5)
0% for 15 months reverting to 19.9%
£0
19.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
Nationwide Member Credit Card Balance Transfer Offer
0% for 18 months reverting to 19.9%
1.5% (min. £5) for 3 months reverting to 2.4% (min. £5)
0% for 3 months reverting to 19.9%
£0
19.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
The Co-operative Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card Visa
0% for 24 months reverting to 20.6%
0%
0% for 4 months reverting to 20.6%
£0
20.6% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 20.6% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 20.6% APR (variable).
HSBC Balance Transfer Credit Card Visa
0% for 25 months reverting to 21.9%
1.5% (min. £5)
0% for 3 months reverting to 21.9%
£0
21.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
Barclaycard Platinum All-Rounder Visa
0% for 27 months reverting to 21.9%
2.7% for transfers in first 60 days
0% for 27 months reverting to 21.9%
£0
21.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
Barclaycard Platinum 20 Month Purchase and Balance Transfer Visa
0% for 20 months reverting to 21.9%
2.7% for transfers in first 60 days
0% for 20 months reverting to 21.9%
£0
21.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
HSBC Purchase Plus Credit Card Visa
0% for 18 months reverting to 22.9%
2.9% (min. £5) for transfers in first 60 days
0% for 18 months reverting to 22.9%
£0
22.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.9% APR (variable).

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated April 2nd, 2020
Name Product Purchases Balance transfers Annual/monthly fees Rep. APR Incentive Representative example
first direct Gold Card Visa
0% for 17 months reverting to 16.9%
16.9%
£0