Visa vs MasterCard: Who’s Better?

Visa and MasterCard… these two brands are often used interchangeably. However, they are two very different companies in the global payments arena. What are their differences and similarities? What are the pros and cons of each? Find out in our MasterCard vs Visa showdown updated for 2015…

Round One: Size of Company

logos of mastercard and visaFirst, let’s take a look at Visa’s basic stats:

Stock Symbol: V
Marketcap (size of company): $162.9 billion
Number of U.S. Visa credit cards: 278 million
Number of U.S. Visa debit cards: 428 million

And versus MasterCard…

Stock Symbol: MA
Marketcap: $99.8 billion
Number of U.S. MasterCard credit cards: 178 million
Number of U.S. MasterCard debit cards: 144 million

Winner? For this portion of the contest where size matters, Visa is the clear winner.

Round Two: card acceptance

Visa: The company reports being accepted in more than 200 countries by more than 30 million merchants. They also claim that cardmembers could get ATM cash advances at over 1.4 million locations across the globe.

MasterCard: They claim to be accepted in 210 countries “and territories” at over 30 million merchants. Their network of ATMs reportedly consists of around 1.5 million locations.

Winner? This one is a toss up. They’re both accepted in about the same number of countries and have roughly the same numbers when it comes to merchant locations.

Round Three: Who has The best credit cards?

MasterCard and Visa don’t actually issue cards… they are just the payment networks that transactions are processed over. So ultimately, things like credit card rewards, benefits, customer service and billing practices etc. are the responsibility of the issuing bank. The six largest credit card issuers (based on dollar amount of outstanding card balances) that issue Visa and/or MasterCard are: Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Capital One, Barclays and Wells Fargo.

So which of these two global payment processing brands has the best credit cards? Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It really depends on what you are looking for in terms of specific features. For example, some banks have good reward credit cards branded as Visa cards, while others have good ones branded as MasterCard. With these two brands it can really come down to the issuer and not the network to tip the scales one way or the other.

Winner? Another tie. Since the rewards and benefits are determined by the bank, ultimately it is the issuing bank that controls if a particular credit card is good or not.

Final Round: Who wins For 2016?

Regardless of where you live there really is no reason to choose MasterCard versus a Visa card (or vice-versa). It’s really just a matter of brand preference (as when choosing between Coke and Pepsi) and the features a particular issuing bank offers with the cards they offer. So, look beyond the logos and choose based on rewards, benefits, and interest rates rather than the logo emblem that happens to be on the front of the card.

Edited or last updated on February 1, 2016

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


to my utter surprise i learned today that there is a difference in the way the two companies handle customer disputes. visa is more inclined towards consumer support while master card is more merchant friendly. this is
inside information. i found this out in the context of disputes i was going to place on some mastercard charges.
i am not going to use it any more and will use my visa exclusively. it was a total bummer and an annoyance to know that i have poor protection in cases of disputes with a merchant.

This article is much too restrictive. What about the insurance and assistance of these 2 cards????

Visa is the best. Master card has many issues like international purchase, online fees payment etc. If you have the choice please go for Visa. I have 2 MC abd 1 Visa card and I feel the the difference. In India Visa is the best.

I resent the similarity to Coke and Pepsi. Aside from colour and being carbonated beverages, those two products are nothing alike. The taste is different.

l have 2 Visas and 2 MasterCards Credit Cards and l am very happy with them……………………….l know Discover and American Express are NOT accepted ln many places.

it is my first time to apply for a credit card…which is better visa or master card ?

Rewards, apr, annual fee, and all that jazz, aside, with some merchants only accepting one brand, kind of forces you to have both.

My primary card (an airline card) is being changed without my consent. And because it is going to Mastercard, I am LOSING benefits that VISA offers.

MC does not offer Lost Luggage Reimbursement and does NOT offer Roadside Assistance. Blanket statement from my airline/card issuer.

NOT happy.

My M.C has roadside assistance.


Master Card charged me a fee for an international purchase, so I changed to Visa on the assurance they would never do that.

Visa is the world’s largest processor of credit and debit card transactions, with $6.5 trillion worth of payments processed through its network in 2012. MasterCard, along with its Maestro debit network, is probably one of the most recognizable brands outside the US, where it is ahead of Visa in terms of market share by purchase volumes.

Doesn’t matter which logo you have on the card, the most important how much money you have in it!

MC and Visa Credit

With regard to the comments on the issuing banks; I am trying to improve my credit, which is average by opening multiple lines. The way I read this is that whether I get another visa or MasterCard doesn’t really matter. It is the number of issuing banks. Comments?

Don’t understand your question…But no major difference Visa and MasterCard. Regarding issuing banks, go for best cash back rewards card, like Chase Freedom, Bank of America 1%/2%/3%, Capital One Quicksilver (1.5% cash back) etc. Do your research. For me, I charge almost everything and I usually earn around $200 to $300. This is free money, tax free. Fyi, for credit card rewards, you won’t receive 1099 so it is tax free…

shahzad ahmed kan

i used to live in UK and used both cards, they are accepted anywhere with ease and great feeling. Both are great but i like visa logo and dove hologram to have on my card.

I’ve used MasterCard and VISA. Both are great. Haven’t had a single issue with either one.

There is 1 reason to choose. SAMs club and Costco take payments from MasterCard but not from Visa credit cards.

Costco only accepts AMEX credit/charge cards… They’ll take any debit+PIN transaction or cash as well, but not credit.

Good to have both, for internet service subscriptions? I experienced some incompatibilities with my MasterCard (Kalixa prepaid, very satisfied with it), recently at 2CheckOut’s where it worked before. Another online payment processing service used then didn’t seem to have this issue. I guess this is what Jasonn meant. I have no comparison yet as I’m waiting for my first VISA-card.

I’ve had bad experience with Master card recently when I was traveling abroad. My purse was stolen, I reported and requested a temporary card. Master sent me a temporary replacement without the CV (3 digits) on the back of the card. You won’t be able to use it to where merchants required the CV number. Visa on the other hand also issued a temporary card with the CV so it was much easier for me to use when I traveled. That is the only different that I noticed.

MasterCard does noet issue cards so it was actually your bank who sent you the card with (or without) the CV number… Banks receive licenses to use the brand and the network (MC or Visa) in which the transactions run, ultimately the reasons to choose between one brand and the other are 1)Security of the network 2)acceptance 3)Fastness of the network and 4)benefits… MasterCard has the largest network and greater acceptance around the world, besides that they offer a lot to their cardholders like Priceless Rewards.

My credit union has been bought out and the new bank is forcing us to use MasterCard instead of VISA! I have only ever used VISA and I’m freaking out! It was comforting to read this article and realize it doesn’t really matter. And I really hope it doesn’t.

We must have the same credit union. Same here!

Too bad Mastercard screws you with international online purchases

Please explain, Jasonn

Please elaborate, Jasonn. Thank You!

Which of the two do you think is considered to be more classy? I know they are both the same but Visa Signature has more cachet than World MasterCard. Agreed?

I’ve never had issues filing a dispute or having it resolved with MC.

I agree with Pat…never had any problems with Mastercard or Visa for that matter.

If you own a MasterCard card, good luck trying to win a disputed charge

Again, it’s the issuing bank, not the payment processor (Visa/MC) that is responsible for crediting payments. MC and Visa do not issue credit — the banks do — they are just the payment processors.