Visa vs Mastercard: Which is better? | finder.com
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Visa vs. Mastercard: Which is better?

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Both offer worldwide acceptance, travel benefits and other perks.

Visa and Mastercard are the largest credit card processing companies in the United States. Each offers a range of benefits that vary by card issuer.

Compare two cards: Visa vs Mastercard

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

  • New cardmember bonus: $150 after you spend $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in eligible net purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose.
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores.
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
  • No limit on total cash back earned.
  • 0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 16.24% - 25.74%
  • No annual fee*
  • Great offer from U.S. Bank, a 2019 World's Most Ethical Company® - Ethisphere Institute, February 2019
  • Read Rates & Fees
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HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on all purchases.
  • Earn an Introductory 3% cash back on all purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, up to the first $10,000 in purchases
  • 10% anniversary bonus on all cash rewards earned once a year.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable APR.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $0 liability for unauthorized purchases.
  • Terms apply.
  • See rates & fees
  • Read Rates & Fees
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Compare Visa and Mastercard secured credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual Fee
5% on up to $2,000 each activated quarter on two categories combined (1% after), 2% on one everyday category and 1% on all other purchases
16.24% to 25.74% variable
$0
When you spend $500 on your card within the first 90 days, you’ll receive a $150 cash back bonus. Rates & Fees
2x points on gas, groceries or airlines, whichever you spend the most on each month, 2x points on cell phone services and charities and 1x points on all other purchases
16.24% to 26.24% variable
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($49 thereafter)
Earn 25,000 enrollment FlexPoints worth $375 in travel after spending $2,000 in the first 4 months. Rates & Fees
5x points on gas at the pump, 3x points on groceries and 1x points on all other purchases
11.99% to 17.99% variable
$0
Earn 5x points on gas at the pump and 3x points on groceries. Earn 1x points on all other purchases.
2% cash back for all PenFed Honors Advantage members and 1.5% cash back on all purchases
11.99% to 17.99% variable
$0
2% cash back for all PenFed Honors Advantage members and 1.5% cash back on all purchases made with your card.
N/A
11.99% to 17.99% variable
$0
Earn a $100 bonus after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening.

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Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual Fee
3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases
0% for the first 12 months (then 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable)
$0
Earn 3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases. See Rates and Fees.
N/A
0% for the first 18 months (then 13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% variable)
$0
An 18 months 0% intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1% for cash back
17.24% variable
$195
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1.5% for cash back
17.24% variable
$495
Receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare or cash back
17.24% variable
$995
Earn 2% point value when redeemed for airfare or cash back through the Luxury rewards program.

Compare up to 4 providers

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.

Pro tip

Neither Visa nor Mastercard issues cards, unlike banks and other financial institutions. That’s why you might get your credit card from Chase, but the bottom corner of the card will have a Visa logo.

Though Visa and Mastercard are similar in many ways, each has specific advantages. For example:

If you have specific needs, you may find one processor offers more relevant cards.

Mastercard credit cards

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Visa and Mastercard market share

Visa Mastercard
Number of countries 200+ 200+
Market capitalization (value) $325.43 billion $230.59 billion
Employees 17,000+ 14,800+
Number of cards in circulation 838 million 388 million
Winner? checkmark

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

Here are a few statistics on worldwide acceptance:

Visa Mastercard
Number of countries 200+ 200+
Number of merchants 40 million (approx.) 40 million (approx.)
Cash advance locations 2.3 million 2.1 million
Winner? Tie Tie
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What features and services do Visa and Mastercard offer?

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

  • Contactless payments.

    Credit cards with Visa PayWave or Mastercard PayPass 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 Platinum, Signature and Infinite cards as well as Platinum, World and World Elite Mastercard products.

    Benefits vary by card provider but could include concierge services, travel insurance, purchase protection, return protection, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage insurance and more.

  • Exclusive offers.

    Premium Visa and Mastercard products might include exclusive discounts on hotels, as well as access to special events and offers.

  • Global cardmember services.

    Visa Travel and Emergency Assistance Service and Mastercard Global Service provide emergency card replacements and cash advances when you’re traveling abroad.

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How can I compare Visa and Mastercard credit cards?

Visa and Mastercard offer worldwide acceptance and extensive secondary benefits. Compare primary benefits to determine which network might be a better fit for you. These benefits might include:

  • Annual fees.

    The more perks a card has, the higher annual fee it’s likely to have. For this reason, Visa Signature and Infinite cards, as well as World and World Elite Mastercards, typically cost more.

  • Interest rates.

    Check each card’s terms to verify purchase, balance transfer and cash advance APRs. These rates are set by card issuers.

    You may also find 0% intro APRs for purchases or balance transfers.

  • Rewards.

    Many Visa and Mastercard credit cards are linked to rewards programs and airline programs. When comparing rewards cards, consider the earn rate and your average card spending.

  • Card issuer perks.

    Credit card providers may offer a range of additional perks, including airport lounge access, travel credits and loyalty-program upgrades.

  • Signup bonuses.

    Card issuers regularly offer bonuses that you can earn by spending a certain amount on your card within a few months.

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Pros and cons of Visa and Mastercard credit cards

There are relatively few downsides to using a Visa or Mastercard. Both are accepted widely, and each may offer valuable purchase and travel benefits.

Visa credit cards: Pros and cons

Pros Cons
  • More card options overall vs. Mastercard
  • Benefits vary by card issuer
  • More cobranded hotel and airline credit cards
  • More options for 1.5% cash back

Mastercard credit cards: Pros and cons

Pros Cons
  • Offers the best balance transfer intro APR of 21 months
  • Benefits vary by card issuer
  • You may find better secured and student cards than you will with Visa
  • Relatively few cobranded hotel cards

The verdict

Both Visa and Mastercard are excellent networks as neither has major weaknesses.

That’s good news, as it means you can cast a wide net for your new card. Instead of asking which processor is better, think of which benefits are most important to you. This could include rewards, intro APR, signup bonus and more. Then look for the specific card that checks the boxes.

Best of both worlds

Visa and Mastercard both offer robust secondary benefits, such as purchase protection and travel insurance. But you might not find these extras with every card.

If these features are important to you, consider applying for a pair of cards. You can open one card for your everyday purchases. With the other, look for a premium Visa or Mastercard — for example, a Visa Infinite or World Elite Mastercard. The high-end card will likely offer a wealth of extra benefits.

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Bottom line

Both Visa and Mastercard are fine processors, and you’ll find excellent credit cards on both sides. Don’t pick your card based on the network — consider products based on their individual features.

If you’re not sure if Visa or Mastercard is right for you, compare other credit card companies.
Compare Mastercard vs American Express

Frequently asked questions

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