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Visa vs Mastercard

Visa vs Mastercard

Visa and Mastercard are the two leading credit companies in the world and both are accepted in nearly all countries globally. Find out how they’re similar and how they differ in our guide.

Anelda Knoesen
From the Money team
minute read
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Posted 14 JANUARY 2020

What are Mastercard and Visa cards?

Visa and Mastercard are payment networks – they process payments for purchases made using credit and debit cards. Visa and Mastercard don’t issue credit cards. Credit cards are issued by banks, who set interest rates, charge fees and offer rewards.

Do Visa and Mastercard offer protection online?

The biggest difference between Mastercard and Visa is that Mastercard offers price protection. If you buy an item with a Mastercard card and the price is reduced within 60 days, Mastercard will pay the difference (although there are exclusions). However, some credit card providers on the Visa network do offer security on price changes.

Visa and Mastercard both offer protection from card fraud when you shop online. MasterCard protects customers from card fraud with its SecureCode scheme, and Visa uses its similar Verified by Visa scheme for extra security.

What are the differences between Visa and Mastercard benefits?

Mastercard and Visa are very similar for people with a basic credit or debit card, but there are differences in the benefits for those with a more premium card.

Visa and Mastercard both offer a three-tier system benefit scheme. Visa comes in Basic, Signature and Infinite. Mastercards are either Basic, World or World Elite.

It’s not unusual for someone to own both a Mastercard and a Visa card to take advantage of exclusive offers from both card types. Some of the rewards include:

Visa Mastercard


Most basic Visa cards come with:

  • Car rental collision damage coverage
  • Extended purchase warranties
  • Unauthorised purchase coverage
  • Emergency assistance
  • Urgent card replacement


The basic package offers perks similar to Visa:

  • Car rental collision coverage
  • Extended purchase warranties
  • Fraud liability protection
  • Emergency travel assistance
  • Urgent card replacement


Visa Signature cards include all of the basic-level offerings, as well as:

  • 24/7 concierge service
  • An online portal that gives cardholders access to discounts
  • Special access to entertainment, sporting events, dining and travel


MasterCard’s World level includes additional perks such as:

  • A dedicated personal travel advisor (similar to Visa Signature’s concierge service)
  • Price protection for 120 days
  • Added benefits at certain hotels (such as complimentary breakfast, late checkout and room upgrades)


Visa Infinite provides the same benefits as Basic and Signature but also includes:

  • A suite of super-premium benefits designed to appeal to high-net-worth individuals.

World Elite

World Elite, the top level, comes with all the benefits of Basic and World but also includes:

  • Discounted service at participating rental car companies
  • Reduced airfares and access to the World Elite Cruise and Vacations programs guide, which offer discounts on cruises and other package trips.

Do the differences between Visa and Mastercard matter?

When it comes to comparing credit cards, it’s important to choose one that fits your circumstances in terms of the benefits and rates they offer, rather than if they’re Visa or Mastercard. These benefits can include sign-up bonuses, 0% interest introductory periods, cashback and rewards.

If you need a debit card, then you should base your choice on whichever current account meets your needs.

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