Visa and MasterCard… in today’s world 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 2014…
Round One: Size of Company
First, let’s take a look at Visa’s basic stats:
Stock Symbol: V
Marketcap (size of company): $133 billion (Jul 2014)
Number of U.S. Visa credit cards: 254 million (Dec 2013)
Number of U.S. Visa debit cards: 431 million (Dec 2013)
And versus MasterCard…
Stock Symbol: MA
Marketcap: $89 billion (Jul 2014)
Number of U.S. MasterCard credit cards: 178 million (Dec 2013)
Number of U.S. MasterCard debit cards: 158 million (Dec 2013)
Winner? For this portion of the contest where size matters, Visa is the clear winner.
Round Two: Card Acceptance
Visa: The company reported being accepted in over 170 countries by more than 30 million merchants. They also claimed 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 28 million merchants. Their network of ATMs reportedly consists of around 1.5 million locations.
Winner? This one is a toss up. Visa has a slightly higher number of merchants, but MasterCard is reportedly accepted in more countries.
Round Three: Who Has The Best Credit Cards?
MasterCard and Visa don’t actually issue cards… they are just the payment network 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 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.
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 2014?
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, instead you should choose based on rewards, benefits, and interest rates rather than the logo emblem that happens to be on the front of the card. So, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars these two companies spend on brand advertising each year asserting they are best you can think of them as largely interchangeable – and look beyond their logos when choosing your next credit card.
Written or last updated July 29, 2014