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Difference Between Visa and Mastercard: Is One Better Than the Other?

Venus Zoleta

Venus Zoleta

Last updated August 22, 2023

If you’re in the early canvassing phase of your credit card journey, you've most likely encountered cards that have either the Visa or Mastercard logo on them. These two are the largest payment card network processors in the world, so you’ll most likely have either of them plastered on your future credit card.

But is there any stark difference between Visa and Mastercard? You can stop speculating and know the answer for sure by reading the article below.

What is a Credit Card Network?

Before delving any deeper into Visa or Mastercard, it’s important to know that they are credit card payment networks rather than credit card issuers. This means that they have no power to approve or deny credit card applications. Also, they’re not the ones you pay your credit card bill to.

In a nutshell, credit and debit cards work because card payment networks like Mastercard and Visa provide the systems that process all the card transactions between merchants and banks. They partner with financial institutions like banks and credit unions to distribute the cards to potential clients.

Because they're not the ones issuing the cards, payment networks are not in charge of setting the interest rates, annual fees, and other credit card features. Still, Visa and Mastercard do offer perks and benefits that are exclusive to each of them. 

Here are the things you need to know about two of the largest card payment networks in the world.

Universal Features of Mastercard and Visa Credit Cards

difference between visa and mastercard - universal features

Choosing between Visa and Mastercard can be tough as the two share more similarities than distinctions. There aren’t many substantial Visa vs. Mastercard differences to be concerned about. 

In fact, the card payment network you go for matters much less than the credit card issuer and the actual individual card you get. It’s all about the unique perks and features that go with your card.

Regardless if you get Visa or Mastercard, you can enjoy the following features shared by both.

✔️ Worldwide Acceptance

Millions of merchants in over 200 countries worldwide accept both credit card networks. Whether your card is a Visa or Mastercard, you can use it to pay in just about every establishment that accepts credit cards here and abroad. Most places that take Visa also take Mastercard, and vice versa.

This is a huge advantage of Visa and Mastercard over other credit card networks such as American Express and JCB, whose individual merchant acceptance is lower. However, there are a few exceptions. 

For example, most taxi drivers in Singapore don't accept Visa credit cards, while Costco stores in the U.S. accept only Visa cards (you can use Mastercard only on the website). But since you're in the Philippines, you're good to go.

✔️ Contactless Payments

When it comes to contactless payments, there's no difference between Visa and Mastercard. All of their cards are equipped with contactless payment technology that allows users to pay by tapping the card over a compatible point-of-sale terminal instead of swiping or inserting it. This feature lets customers pay conveniently and safely for their daily purchases.

✔️ Basic and Premium Cards

Visa and Mastercard have their respective card types that range from basic to premium. Basic cards come with the standard, no-frills features while premium cards offer additional benefits and exclusive offers.

✔️ Online Shopping Protection

Visa and Mastercard offer various credit cards for online shopping. Each payment network protects cardholders from credit card fraud through their respective online shopping security features.

Visa Secure prevents unauthorized transactions using a Visa card. It confirms the cardholder’s identity through an additional check when an online purchase is made. A password or code is sent via text message to the cardholder, which is then used to verify the transaction.

Mastercard's SecureCode works the same way. It requires users to input a one-time PIN (sent via text message to the cardholder) to verify that the online transaction is legitimate. 

When comparing the difference between Visa and Mastercard, always consider the online protection that works for you. 

✔️ Global Customer Assistance Services

Some of the best credit cards for travel have either the Visa or Mastercard logo on the front. These payment networks offer decent travel-related benefits for your international trips.

If your Mastercard or Visa card is lost or stolen while traveling abroad, you can avail of a 24/7 worldwide service (Mastercard Global Services or Visa Global Customer Assistance Services) that allows you to replace your card and make an emergency cash advance.

Related reading: Top 14 International Credit Cards: Don’t Travel Without One

✔️ Co-Branded Partnerships

Since Visa and Mastercard are just payment networks, they don’t extend credit or issue credit cards. Instead, they partner with card issuers to enable transactions.

They partner with member financial institutions like banks and credit unions to offer various products like co-branded credit cards. The member financial institutions then issue cards to individuals and businesses either directly or through co-branded partnerships with retail brands, airlines, hotels, fuel companies, etc.

✔️ Preset Terms and Conditions

Payment networks like Visa and Mastercard don’t set the terms and conditions of a specific card. It’s the credit card issuer or financial institution that sets the features, fees, perks, and rewards that go with each individual card. 

Differences Between Visa and Mastercard Credit Cards

difference between visa and mastercard

To answer the question, “Which is better: Visa or Mastercard in the Philippines,” you should take into account what makes each one stand out. 

For the average consumer, Visa and Mastercard don't differ much. Whatever distinctions they have from each other are relatively small. Their differences matter only if you're looking for a particular benefit in a credit card or debit card.

The following are some of the differences between Visa and Mastercard worth considering. 

👉 Issuing Banks

Most banks in the Philippines offer a mix of Visa and Mastercard credit cards in their lineup. However, some banks partner with either Visa or Mastercard only. If you want a credit card from a particular bank, your choices may be limited to what network it's partnering with.

For example, AUB and Security Bank issue only Mastercard-branded cards.

👉 Service Fee Structure

Both Mastercard and Visa earn a huge chunk of their revenue from the service and data processing fees they collect. However, there’s a difference in how each of these payment networks characterize and structure their fees.

Visa generally charges its service fees to the issuer based on card volume. The issuer in turn charges merchants per transaction to retrieve those fees. Data processing fees or service fees are often fixed in nature, and they don’t cost much per transaction. 

On the other hand, Mastercard negotiates service fees and calculates them as a percentage of global dollar volume. These fees are also relatively small, fixed amounts charged per transaction to the issuer. Instead of data processing fees, these are often called “switching fees.”

👉 Rewards and Benefits

Both Mastercard and Visa offer various perks per card tier. Each of the two payment networks has baseline benefits that are almost identical to the other, including purchase and fraud protection, emergency assistance, and urgent card replacement. 

The difference in benefits is mostly negligible. You’ll have to consider the specific card tier you’re getting, as well as the card issuer and the individual card itself. That’s the most efficient way to gauge the benefits you can get per card.

Different Tiers of Visa and Mastercard Credit Cards

There are many different types of Visa and Mastercard credit cards. Check them out below.

💳 Visa Credit Card Tiers

There are five types of Visa cards,[1] namely:

  • Classic - Visa's basic card type
  • Gold - Higher credit limit than Visa Classic
  • Platinum - More rewards and privileges than the Classic and Gold cards
  • Signature - Higher credit limit, higher level of rewards, priority services, and exclusive privileges for top-tier clients
  • Infinite - Highest credit limit and personalized privileges, services, and rewards for premium clients

Below are some examples of Visa credit cards that you can get in the Philippines:

 

Credit Card Key Features Annual Fee Monthly Income Requirement

UnionBank Rewards Credit Card

unionbank rewards platinum

APPLY NOW

  • 3x non-expiring reward points when you shop and dine here and abroad
  • 1 non-expiring reward point for every ₱30 spend
  • Cash credits, merchandise, gadgets, points transfers, and more for redemption
₱2,500 ₱15,000 

HSBC Gold Visa Cash Back

hsbc gold visa cashback

APPLY NOW

  • 5% cash back on dining and 0.50% cash back on all other spend
  • 6% rebate on the first Caltex fuel spend and 3% rebate year-round
  • Exclusive HSBC perks in 27,000 partner establishments worldwide
₱2,500 ₱16,667

HSBC Platinum Visa Rebate

HSBC_VISA_PLATINUM

APPLY NOW

  • 5% rebate on shopping and travel transactions
  • 6% rebate on your first Caltex fuel spend, 3% year-round
  • Free purchase protect insurance coverage up to ₱15,000
₱5,000     ₱41,667

BPI Visa Signature

bpi visa signature

APPLY NOW

  • 2 BPI points for every ₱20 spend
  • ₱20 million free travel accident and inconvenience benefit
  • Complimentary access at PAGSS international lounges in NAIA 1 and NAIA 3
  • 50% off deals on dining, hotels, resorts, fitness studios, and wellness centers
₱5,500     ₱100,000

Maybank Visa Classic

Maybank-Visa-Classic-300x207

COMPARE NOW

  • 1 Treat Point for every ₱25 spend
  • Auto-convert overseas spend to Philippine Peso
  • Free annual fee for the first year of credit card use
  • Rewards rate: ₱25/point
₱2,000 ₱16,250

PNB Visa Classic

PNB-Visa-Classic-e1641375724311

COMPARE NOW

  • 1% rebate on revolved interest
  • Card Protect feature
  • Billed in Philippine peso even for transactions abroad
  • Rewards rate: ₱1/point
₱300 ₱10,000

RCBC Flex Gold Visa

rcbc flex gold visa

COMPARE NOW

  • 2x rewards points on three preferred categories
  • Free travel insurance and purchase protection
  • Access to the Marhaba/Skyview Airport Lounge
  • Rewards rate: ₱50/point
  • Local air miles: ₱150/mile
₱3,000     ₱50,000

RCBC Visa Infinite

rbc visa infinite

COMPARE NOW

  • 5% rebate at any clothing shop
  • Free travel insurance up to ₱1 million 
  • Free-for-life supplementary cards for up to 9 cardholders
  • 5% cash back
  • Rewards rate: ₱36/point
₱3,600     ₱300,000

 

 


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💳 Mastercard Credit Card Tiers

There are six types of Mastercard credit cards,[2] namely:

  • Standard - Mastercard's basic card type that's ideal for everyday purchases
  • Gold - Similar to the Standard Mastercard but comes with exclusive offers
  • World - Travel-specific features and benefits for frequent international travelers
  • World Elite - Personalized services for jet-setting cardholders
  • Titanium - Travel and lifestyle benefits for premium cardholders
  • Platinum - Same features as the Titanium card

Below are some examples of Mastercard credit cards that you can get in the Philippines:


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Credit Card Key Features Annual Fee Monthly Income Requirement

Metrobank Titanium Mastercard®

METROBANK TITANIUM MASTERCARD

APPLY NOW

  • 2x rewards points on dining, department store, and online purchases
  • 1 point for every ₱20 spend
  • Rewards rate: ₱20/point
₱2,500 ₱15,000

Metrobank World Mastercard®

metrobank WORLD MASTERCARD

APPLY NOW

  • No annual fees for first-time Metrobank cardholders with an annual spend of ₱600,000
  • Free 300,000 reward points for first-time Metrobank cardholders with a minimum spend of ₱90,000 
  • 2x reward points for international purchases
  • Up to 50% off on luxury dining deals
  • Rewards rate: ₱20/point
  • Overseas air miles: ₱25/mile
₱6,000     ₱333,333

Security Bank Gold Mastercard

Gold_Contactless_2022-2026-1

APPLY NOW

  • No annual fee for the first year
  • 1 reward point for every ₱20 spend
  • Rewards rate: ₱20/point
₱2,500     ₱30,000

Security Bank World Mastercard

security bank world

APPLY NOW

  • No annual fee for the first year
  • Membership to more than 1,000 lounges in over 500 airports worldwide
  • Free travel insurance coverage up to ₱10 million
  • Dining, spa, and retail offers from select exclusive airport merchants
  • Rewards rate: ₱20/point
  • Local air miles: ₱130/mile
₱5,000 ₱250,000

BPI Platinum Rewards Mastercard

BPI Platinum

APPLY NOW

  • 2 BPI points for every ₱30 local spend
  • 2 BPI points for every ₱20 foreign currency spend online and abroad
  • Straight payments on airfares converted to installment with 0% interest
  • Up to ₱10 million free travel insurance
  • Up to 180 days of purchase protection insurance
  • Up to four complimentary airport lounge passes yearly to over 1,300 lounges worldwide when you meet the spend requirement
₱4,000 ₱83,333

AUB Gold Mastercard

AUB Gold Mastercard

COMPARE NOW

  • No annual fees forever
  • No interest on new purchases
  • Flexible payment schedule
  • Unlimited supplementary cards
  • Rewards rate: ₱50/point
Free     ₱50,000
AUB Platinum Mastercard

AUB_PLATINUM

COMPARE NOW
 
  • No annual fees forever
  • No interest on new purchases
  • Flexible payment schedule
  • Unlimited supplementary cards
  • Rewards rate: ₱50/point
Free      ₱100,000
Maybank Standard Mastercard

Maybank Standard Mastercard

COMPARE NOW
 
  • No annual fee for the first year
  • 1 Treat Point for every ₱25 spend
  • Pay for overseas purchases in Philippine peso
  • Rewards rate: ₱25/point
 ₱2,000      ₱16,250

 

Features and Benefits per Card Tier

Each card type, whether it be under Visa or Mastercard, has its own features to boast of. The more exclusive a credit card is, the greater the perks its cardholders can enjoy. 

Before you make up your mind about getting a Visa vs. Mastercard in the Philippines, check out the different features of each card type below.

👍 Visa Features and Benefits

Here are the features and benefits offered by Visa per card type:

Features and Benefits Visa Classic Visa Gold Visa Platinum Visa Signature Visa Infinite
Visa Global Customer Assistance Services ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Exclusive Offers and Promos   ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
24/7 Concierge     ✔️ ✔️ ✔️

The Visa Global Customer Assistance Services[3] is a standard feature across all Visa card types in the Philippines. Except for Visa Classic, all Visa cards also come with exclusive perks on travel, shopping, dining, lifestyle, and golf.

For premium cardholders, Visa offers 24/7 concierge services that save time by handling any of the following tasks:

  • Flight/Hotel/Restaurant/Car rental reservations
  • Trip planning
  • Event ticket purchases
  • Other general requests

👍 Mastercard Features and Benefits

Here are the features and benefits offered by Mastercard per card type:

Features and Benefits Standard Mastercard Gold Mastercard Titanium Mastercard Platinum Mastercard World Mastercard World Mastercard
Liability Protection ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Mastercard Global Services ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Exclusive Offers and Promos     ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Prime Features and Worldwide Acceptance         ✔️ ✔️
Personalized Services           ✔️

Mastercard provides global customer assistance services for all its card types. It also offers another great feature: Liability Protection.[4] In the event of any unauthorized purchase—whether it’s made in-store, online, via phone, or via an ATM—as long as Mastercard cardholders meet certain conditions, they are protected by the financial institution that issued their card.

Premium cardholders enjoy travel and lifestyle perks, including flight and hotel discounts. Affluent clients with a World Elite Mastercard get more exclusive privileges such as free access to over 1,000 airport lounges and Wi-Fi at over one million hotspots worldwide.


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Final Thoughts

Which is better: Visa or Mastercard? In the Philippines, there's simply no clear winner. None is superior to the other. The better credit card network depends on the kind of benefits or services you want to get.

In short, the difference between Visa and Mastercard doesn't matter. What matters more is the bank that issues the credit card, as it sets the credit card features that will affect your finances.

Rather than compare Visa vs. Mastercard, focus your search on the rewards, interest rates, annual fees, and other benefits you need most from a credit card.

If you have multiple credit cards (or planning to get a second card), you can have the best of both worlds in terms of exclusive promos and perks by keeping at least one card from Visa and another from Mastercard.

 

moneymax hsbc credit card promo - giftaway infinity audio jbl

 

Sources:

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Venus has almost 20 years of combined experience in content marketing, SEO, corporate communications, and public relations. Most of her career was spent creating informative articles on personal finance and digital marketing. She also invests in stocks, mutual funds, VUL, and Pag-IBIG MP2. Venus graduated cum laude with a Journalism degree from the University of the Philippines Diliman. A hardcore Hallyu Tita, she loves bingeing Korean shows on Netflix while bonding with her cats. Follow Venus on LinkedIn.

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