Visa and Mastercard are the two largest card networks in the world, accepted in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. As card networks, Visa and Mastercard control where credit cards and debit cards can be used, as well as what secondary perks they offer – from $0 fraud liability guarantees to rental car insurance. Neither Visa nor Mastercard actually issues credit cards, unlike the two other leading card networks: American Express and Discover.
That’s why you should only worry about whether to get a Visa or Mastercard credit card if you’re torn between two offers. In other words, if two cards are identical in terms of rewards, rates and fees, then it’s appropriate to weigh the small differences that do exist between Mastercard and Visa.
For more information about how Visa and Mastercard stack up against one another, consult the table below. Make sure to also check out our editor’s picks for the best Visa and Mastercard credit cards. Some of the cards listed on this page originate from WalletHub’s partners, but that did not impact our conclusions. Offers are accurate as of June 11, 2018 and many are likely to have changed since.
Visa vs. Mastercard: Main Differences?
|Domestic Acceptance||10.7 million locations||10.7 million locations||Tie|
|International Acceptance||200+ countries and territories||210+ countries and territories||Mastercard|
|Cards in Circulation||838.3 million||388.4 million||Visa|
|Transactions||62.3 billion in 2016||25.4 billion in 2016||Visa|
|Average Purchase Amount||$57||$60||Mastercard|
|Fraud Liability||$0 liability for:|
- Credit card transactions
- Signature debit card transactions
- PIN debit card transactions processed by Visa*
PIN debit transactions not processed by Visa receive no protections beyond those required by law.
|$0 liability for:- Credit card transactions|
- Signature debit card transactions
- PIN debit card transactions processed by Mastercard*
PIN debit transactions not processed by Mastercard receive no additional fraud protections beyond federal law.
|Credit Card Terms||Not a card issuer. Does not set APRs, fees, rewards, etc.||Not a card issuer. Does not set APRs, fees, rewards, etc.||Tie|
|Cash Advance Locations||2.3 million||2.1 million||Visa|
*A debit card transaction in which a PIN is used receives no additional protections beyond what is required by federal law, unless it happens to be processed by the card network whose logo is on the card.
Best Visa & Mastercard Credit Cards
The following cards were selected by WalletHub's editors because they provide the most overall value for each segment of the market. Don’t see your favorite offer? Use the Community Discussion section below to tell us why you think it deserves inclusion.
*Reflects ongoing rewards earnings of the average American, excluding any initial bonuses and fees.
Visa vs. Mastercard Benefits
There are three levels of Visa credit card benefits: Traditional, Signature and Infinite. Mastercard has three tiers of benefits, too. Some cards offer one level of benefits to all users. Others give better perks to people approved for a certain credit limit – $5,000+, for example.
|Visa Traditional Benefits||Visa Signature Benefits||Visa Infinite Benefits||World Elite Mastercard Benefits||World Mastercard Benefits||Basic Mastercard Benefits|
|Zero Liability||Zero Liability||Zero Liability||Zero Liability||Zero Liability||Zero Liability|
|24/7 customer support for general inquiries||24/7 customer support for general inquiries||24/7 customer support for general inquiries||Identity Theft Protection (e.g. alerts for personal info found online)||Identity Theft Protection (e.g. alerts for personal info found online)||Identity Theft Protection (e.g. alerts for personal info found online)|
|Lost or stolen card reporting||Lost or stolen card reporting||Lost or stolen card reporting||Lost or stolen card reporting||Lost or stolen card reporting||Lost or stolen card reporting|
|Emergency card replacement||Emergency card replacement||Emergency card replacement||Emergency card replacement||Emergency card replacement||Emergency card replacement|
|Emergency cash disbursement||Emergency cash disbursement||Emergency cash disbursement||Emergency cash disbursement||Emergency cash disbursement||Emergency cash disbursement|
|Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver||Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver||Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver||Fuel Rewards Network (earn discounts on gas at Shell)||Fuel Rewards Network (earn discounts on gas at Shell)||Fuel Rewards Network (earn discounts on gas at Shell)|
|Roadside Dispatch||Roadside Dispatch||Roadside Dispatch||Price Protection||Price Protection||Price Protection|
|Extended Warranty||Extended Warranty||Extended Warranty||Extended Warranty||Extended Warranty|
|Travel and Emergency Assistance Services||Travel and Emergency Assistance Services||24/7 Concierge||24/7 Concierge|
|Year-end Summary||Year-end Summary||ShopRunner Membership||ShopRunner Membership|
|Return Protection||Mastercard Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee||Mastercard Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee|
|Purchase Protection||Mastercard luxury hotels and resorts portfolio (room upgrades & more)||Mastercard luxury hotels and resorts portfolio (room upgrades & more)|
|Travel Accident Insurance||Onefinestay (high-end home rentals)||Onefinestay (high-end home rentals)|
|Trip Cancellation/ Interruption Insurance||Mastercard Hotel Stay Guarantee||Mastercard Hotel Stay Guarantee|
|Trip Delay Reimbursement||Freebies and exclusive experiences at select restaurants||Freebies and exclusive experiences at select restaurants|
|Lost Luggage Reimbursement||Car, Air, Cruise and Vacation Packages||Car, Air, Cruise and Vacation Packages|
|Mastercard Airport Concierge||Mastercard Airport Concierge|
|Free travel-planning services||Free travel-planning services|
|Exclusive experiences and discounts in Priceless Cities||Exclusive experiences and discounts in Priceless Cities|
|VIP access to nightclubs||VIP access to nightclubs|
|Priceless Golf experiences, offers and concierge||Priceless Golf experiences, offers and concierge|
|Trip Cancellation Insurance|
Many Visa and Mastercard benefits are offered at the discretion of individual credit card issuers. In other words, Visa and Mastercard make benefits available to card issuers and allow them to decide which to pass on to different groups of cardholders. To learn how individual cards rank for some of the most important perks, check out WalletHub’s credit card benefits reports:
- Credit Cards with the Best Benefits
- Return Protection
- Rental Car Insurance
- Price Protection
- Extended Warranty
- Travel Insurance
- Purchase Protection
- International Travel Perks
Visa & Mastercard by the Numbers
Visa and Mastercard are both huge, multi-national corporations with thousands of employees, millions of customers and storied histories. Here are a few interesting facts and figures that will help you get to know them better.
Ask The Experts: Visa vs. Mastercard
For more insight on Visa and Mastercard’s market presence – including consumer perception, corporate fundamentals and future outlook – we turned to a panel of leading experts on investing and the payments market. You can check them and their answers out below.
- Which company’s stock do you think is a better investment: Visa (V) or Mastercard (MA)? Would you buy either?
- What do you make of the fact that many consumers think Visa or Mastercard is the issuer of their credit card, rather than its supporting network?
- Do you expect Visa and Mastercard to have as dominant a position in the market 10 years from now?