Visa vs. Mastercard

On top of being the two major credit card processing companies in Australia, Visa and Mastercard are perhaps the most globally recognised credit card brands. These cards are accepted in over 200 countries – in fact, it is hard to find a location that doesn’t accept one or the other.

Neither Visa nor Mastercard actually issue credit cards – this is done by banks. However they have their own respective technology in place for processing credit card payments. Some banks and financial institutions may even issue both Visa and Mastercard credit cards. This invites the following question…

How are Visa & Mastercard actually different?

While they work in largely similar ways despite having individual payment processing networks, Visa and Mastercard have different benefits for high-end users. This is perhaps the chief area of competition for the two brands, since both control massive portions of the credit card market.

Features, benefits and services on offer

Both Visa and Mastercard list a plenitude of features and services. Banks and other credit card providers can in turn include them on different cards, which they then offer to customers.

  • Premium cards. This is the service where both providers have been trying to outdo each other in for years. From platinum cards such as Visa Platinum, Signature and Infinite credit cards to World Mastercard products, cardholders with bigger wallets are spoilt for choice when it comes to available features.
  • Concierge service. Mastercard claim to offer premium cardholders the level of assistance that only a travel agency could provide. The Visa Platinum concierge service likewise pulls no stops when it comes to taking care of the customer: private yacht hire, exclusive hotel and restaurant bookings, business class flights, the list goes on.
  • Global security services. If you’ve lost your card or have an urgent query, you can call the 24/7 support hotline – the Mastercard Global Service and Visa Global Customer Card, respectively.
  • Online shopping protection. Both providers offer an extra layer of online security to credit card payments. These programs are respectively known as Verified by Visa and Mastercard SecureCode and are both optional for when you’re using your cards for online shopping.
  • Exclusive offers. These include select entertainment, travel and shopping offers for Mastercard holders. Visa, on the other hand, has an array of lifestyle and entertainment perks, including exclusive ticket pre-sales, percentage discount, last-minute offers and competitions to win free goods, under the Visa Entertainment banner.
  • Contactless payments. In many cases, all it takes to buy something these days is tapping your card on the reader. Every now and then you’ll hear “payWave?” (Visa) or “PayPass?” (Mastercard) from the checkout person when you take out your card to pay for your purchase. There’s no PIN required for transactions under $100.

What should I look for when comparing Visa and Mastercard products?

It can be worthwhile to study the details for both Visa and Mastercard products, as they might reflect on the overall value of the card you’re seeking. Some of the main elements worth investigating when shopping for a credit card are:

  • Annual fees. As with most credit cards, Visa and Mastercard charge annual fees. These commonly range from low for basic card owners to considerably higher for premium cardholders – whether you get a Visa Signature or Infinite card or a World Mastercard.
  • Interest rates. The issuing financial institution typically sets those, therefore you need to keep an eye on interest rate increases as they can make your credit card more expensive to use.
  • Many types of Visa and Mastercard credit cards work in conjunction with rewards and frequent flyer programs, which offer purchase points and extra features, but often attract higher annual fees than standard credit cards.
  • Dual accounts. Some issuers may offer credit card accounts with an American Express coupled with either Visa or Mastercard. Because Amex typically offers a better point earn rate and Visa and Mastercard have wide-reaching networks, you can use both cards for a range of options while earning points – at different locations.
  • Interest free days. Most credit cards offer an interest-free period if you pay your balance in full by the due date. This means you can make purchases without accruing interest on top.
  • Introductory offers. These limited time offers can include 0% balance transfer interest rates, 0% purchase credit cards or bonus purchase points.
  • Extras. When you get a new card, you can get some complimentary bonuses in the form of (usually) travel insurance, flight vouchers and priority lounges at airports.

Should I choose Visa or Mastercard?

First off, there is no definitive answer as to which provider is better – Mastercard or Visa. In Australia, the vast majority of retailers accept both cards, while both providers offer a decent range of rewards and benefits that you can use to your advantage.

The best way to match up Visa and Mastercard credit cards is to compare them in one place. Here at comparethemarket.com.au, we let you take the driver’s seat in tracking down the card that suits both your lifestyle and budget.