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
First, let’s take a look at Visa’s basic stats:
Stock Symbol: V
Marketcap (size of company): $162.9 billion (Dec. 31. 2014)
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: $101.72 billion (Dec. 31 2014)
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 2015?
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.
Updated April 13, 2015