How is Visa Different to MasterCard?

Jonathan Halloway

Written by Jonathan Halloway on February 28, 2019

Updated May 22, 2019


It’s not uncommon for most people to wonder how MasterCard differs from Visa. Essentially, both companies have a lot of similarities, but there are a few distinct differences too.

Of importance is that both MasterCard and Visa don’t distribute or provide debit or credit cards. Your bank or financial institution will provide the MasterCard or Visa card that you will use. Your bank is also the issuing institution that set rewards, charge interest rates and other fees on the cards, not Visa or MasterCard.

So what are Visa and MasterCard? They’re simply payment networks involved in the processing of payments between merchants and banks for transactions carried out using the debit or credit cards.

Note that Visa and MasterCard provide cardholders with specific benefits for choosing them like extended warranties, protection against fraud and automotive insurance among others around the world. As you choose whether to go with either, consider the rates and offerings provided by the financial institution issuing you the card and not what the payment processing entity offers.


MasterCard and Visa are universally accepted today. The main reason is perhaps due to the fact that they’re payment systems that make it easier for retailers to receive payments. Both Mastercard and Visa work with retailers and organisations to help boost the economy.

When it comes to credit cards and other cards applications from any financial institution, you might want to consider the availability of either in your location before making your application.

Pioneering Visa

Visa started the credit card payment craze way back in the 1960s and opened the door for what card payments have become today. Developed by Bank of America, Visa became an independent company in the 1970s and named Visa. Visa Incorporated is mandated with the handling of Visa credit cards.

The company also handles debit and credit card transactions allowing money to move easily between financial institutions that provide the debit and credit card products and the merchants offering products and merchandises out there.

Visa is widely accepted virtually everywhere around the UK and roughly in 29 million locations globally including 1.2 million Visa ATMs around the world.

Always contact your financial institution that offered the card and not Visa in case of any complication. Remember Visa is only involved in payment processing on behalf of financial providers and banks and hardly makes any decision in relation to financial products or financial status. It doesn’t offer its own cards.


MasterCard is a huge global multinational accepted in over 24 million locations around the world. Essentially, it’s arguably the most accepted card processor anywhere. Its affiliations with many card issuers is significant, and MasterCard provide many store and charity cards as well.

In a bid to reduce fraud in card usage, EuroPay, Visa and MasterCard introduced Personal Identification Number (PIN) and chip system where credit card users would have to enter the chip embedded PIN for their own security. As a result of this new anti-fraud scheme, France reportedly saw a decrease in card fraud by 78%.

You might want to ensure you have a MasterCard SecureCode in your MasterCard credit or debit card. It was introduced by the payment processor to protect those using the cards to purchase items on the internet through a code.

How do MasterCard and Visa process transactions?

As mere payment processors, MasterCard and Visa come in when you transact with your prepaid, debit or credit card. They verify with the card provider whether the transaction you’ve initiated should be declined or accepted. The retailer also receives confirmation whether payment on the product or service will be made or not.

Visa and MasterCard then process payments between the retailer and the institution providing the card. Actually both MasterCard ensures your online shopping is well protected. Visa has an effective Verified by Visa extra security scheme while MasterCard has the SecureCode scheme.

There’s almost no disadvantage or advantage of using one over the other whether online, around the UK or around the world. Both are equally accepted.

Lots of benefits

MasterCard and Visa are efficient and reliable and offer a range of advantages.


  • Protects online purchases
  • Actively protects against fraud and theft
  • Extended items warranties for purchasing with their cards
  • Unique offers provided in conjunction with partner entities
  • Special perks when using MasterCard branded cards to rent cars or travel.


  • Protection against identity theft and fraud
  • Efficient emergency replacement of cards lost
  • Additional insurance protection for renting vehicles with their cards
  • Extended warranties on diverse products
  • Offers emergency help for travellers transacting with their branded cards.

Don’t just choose a card because it’s Visa or MasterCard. Instead, accept a credit, debit or prepaid card with the perks and functionalities you need, including best rewards. Choose a card that fits your needs perfectly well not whether it’s MasterCard or Visa.

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