Visa vs MasterCard: Who’s Better?

Posted by CreditCardGuru

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): $136 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: $95 billion (Jul 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 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 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 Jan. 15, 2015

Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

22 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Colin January 24, 2015 at 10:14AM

    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.

  2. MysteryAuthor July 23, 2014 at 1:42PM

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

  3. John Simons October 22, 2013 at 2:00PM

    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.

  4. Dilman August 7, 2013 at 2:49AM

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

  5. MC and Visa Credit July 11, 2013 at 8:59PM

    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?

    • Jason July 26, 2013 at 8:46AM

      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…

  6. shahzad ahmed kan June 3, 2013 at 12:27AM

    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.

  7. Erick April 1, 2013 at 12:58PM

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

  8. PaulE March 2, 2013 at 8:30PM

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

    • Julian April 11, 2013 at 2:47PM

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

  9. JS December 13, 2012 at 6:28PM

    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.

  10. Michele September 26, 2012 at 2:22PM

    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.

    • Gabriela July 8, 2014 at 8:47AM

      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.

  11. Liz March 29, 2012 at 2:02PM

    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.

    • Sarah May 25, 2012 at 11:38AM

      We must have the same credit union. Same here!

  12. Jasonn February 15, 2012 at 4:32AM

    Too bad Mastercard screws you with international online purchases

    • Ryan August 18, 2012 at 11:00PM

      Please explain, Jasonn

    • Naveed November 28, 2012 at 6:48PM

      Please elaborate, Jasonn. Thank You!

  13. MT February 9, 2012 at 7:00AM

    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?

  14. Pat November 26, 2011 at 7:15PM

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

    • Carol February 19, 2012 at 7:32PM

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

  15. Louis Stabile October 18, 2011 at 7:14PM

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

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