Difference Wiki

Visa vs. Mastercard: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 18, 2023
Visa and Mastercard are both global payment networks, but they are distinct companies with their own operations and branding.

Key Differences

Visa and Mastercard are among the leading global payment processing networks, facilitating electronic funds transfers throughout the world. Both networks serve a similar primary function: they act as intermediaries between banks and merchants, ensuring that transactions are processed securely and efficiently. However, Visa and Mastercard are distinct entities with separate histories, strategies, and branding.
Visa, headquartered in Foster City, California, prides itself on its extensive global reach and emphasis on innovation. The company offers a variety of financial products, from debit and credit cards to prepaid and business solutions. Visa's network is renowned for its widespread acceptance, and its cards are used by millions of consumers and businesses around the world. Mastercard, on the other hand, has its headquarters in Purchase, New York. Like Visa, it offers a range of financial products tailored to different customer needs, and its cards are also widely accepted globally.
From a consumer's perspective, there might seem to be little difference between Visa and Mastercard. Both provide similar services, and the choice of one over the other often boils down to the specific offers or benefits associated with a particular bank's card offering. Nevertheless, each company has its own partnerships, promotional campaigns, and security features.
While Visa and Mastercard dictate the standards and procedures for transactions processed on their networks, they don't actually issue the credit or debit cards. Instead, this role is left to financial institutions like banks, which decide on the terms, interest rates, and rewards for the cards they offer. Both companies earn revenue from the fees charged to merchants for processing transactions and from other services provided to financial institutions.

Comparison Chart


Foster City, California
Purchase, New York

Foundation Year



Blue and gold with the name “Visa” displayed
Red and yellow circles with the name “Mastercard”

Major Initiatives

Visa Checkout, Tap to Pay
Masterpass, Priceless Surprises

Signature Technologies

Visa Secure, Visa Direct
Mastercard ID Check, Mastercard Send

Visa and Mastercard Definitions


A brand of credit, debit, and prepaid cards.
My bank offers a Visa credit card with great rewards.


A brand of credit, debit, and prepaid cards.
I just received my new Mastercard in the mail.


A document or stamp permitting the holder to enter a foreign country.
She applied for a visa to study in the U.S.


A company headquartered in Purchase, New York.
Mastercard recently announced a new sustainability initiative.


A symbol of approval or endorsement.
The document had a visa from the embassy.


A global payment processing network.
She made the reservation using her Mastercard.


A payment network facilitating electronic funds transfers.
He paid for his purchase using his Visa card.


A competitor to other major payment networks.
Many merchants accept both Visa and Mastercard.


A requirement for entry into many countries.
Travelers should check visa requirements before booking.


Known for its distinctive red and yellow logo.
The Mastercard logo is easily recognizable.


An official authorization appended to a passport, permitting entry into and travel within a particular country or region subject to certain conditions, such as length of time and purpose of the visit.


To endorse or ratify (a passport).


How does Mastercard earn revenue?

Mastercard earns from fees charged to merchants and services to financial institutions.

What is the primary function of Visa?

Visa is a global payment processing network facilitating electronic funds transfers.

Do Visa and Mastercard issue the physical cards?

No, financial institutions issue the cards; Visa and Mastercard provide the processing network.

Are there countries where Visa cards aren't accepted?

While Visa is widely accepted, some places might not accept it due to local regulations or business choices.

Where is Mastercard headquartered?

Mastercard's headquarters is in Purchase, New York.

What is a travel visa?

A travel visa is a document or stamp allowing entry into a foreign country.

Do all countries require a visa for entry?

No, visa requirements vary by country and traveler's nationality.

Is Visa only a credit card?

No, Visa offers debit, credit, prepaid, and business cards.

How old is the Mastercard company?

Mastercard was founded in 1966.

Can Visa cards be used for online purchases?

Yes, Visa cards are widely accepted for online transactions.

Is there a limit to how much one can spend on a Mastercard?

Spending limits are set by the issuing bank, not Mastercard itself.

How do Visa and Mastercard ensure transaction security?

Both implement advanced security measures, like Visa Secure and Mastercard ID Check.

Is one more widely accepted than the other?

Both are widely accepted, but acceptance can vary by location and merchant.

What's a notable Mastercard initiative?

One is "Priceless Surprises," offering cardholders unique experiences.

Can one use Visa and Mastercard globally?

Generally, yes. Both have extensive global acceptance, but always check beforehand.

Which company came first, Visa or Mastercard?

Visa was founded in 1958, while Mastercard was established in 1966.

Why might someone choose a Visa card over Mastercard, or vice versa?

Choice often comes down to card benefits, offers, or a specific bank's card product.

Do all Mastercard cards offer the same benefits?

No, benefits can vary based on card type and issuing bank.

How does Mastercard's logo look?

Mastercard's logo features red and yellow circles with the name “Mastercard.”

Are Visa and Mastercard considered banks?

No, they are payment processing networks; they don't hold customer deposits.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons