Visa vs. MasterCard


While both Visa and MasterCard are huge payment processing networks, there are some differences in their acceptance at merchants and the fees that they charge. This comparison also examines the companies' size, employee headcount and financial metrics such as revenue, net income.

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Products Payment systems Payment systems
Type Public Public
Industry Financial services Financial services
Key people Richard N. Haythornthwaite, (Chairman), Ajay Banga, (President & CEO) Joseph Saunders (Chairman and CEO) John Partridge (President) Byron Pollitt (CFO)
Introduction MasterCard Worldwide (NYSE:MA) is an American multinational corporation with its headquarters in the MasterCard International Global Headquarters in Harrison, New York, United States. Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is an American multinational corporation with its headquarters in in Foster City, California. Visa targets consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories.
Revenue US$5.539 Billion (FY 2010) US$8.065 Billion (FY 2010)
Net income US$1.846 Billion (FY 2010) US$2.966 Billion (FY 2010)
Headquarters New York San Francisco
Employees 5,600 (2010) 6,900 (2010)
Operating income US$2.757 Billion (FY 2010) US$4.638 Billion (FY 2010)
Founded 1966 1970
Total assets US$8.837 Billion (FY 2010) US$33.408 Billion (FY 2010)
Total equity US$5.216 Billion (FY 2010) US$25.014 Billion (FY 2010)
Acceptance Worldwide Worldwide

edit Summary

Visa (Visa International Service Association) and MasterCard are both payment processing institutions that are each owned jointly by thousands of participating financial institutions that issue and market Visa and MasterCard products (mainly credit and debit cards).

Both companies have similar products. Other financial institutions (mostly banks) issue cards that use either Visa or MasterCard for processing payments. So if you are comparing Visa and MasterCard to decide which card to go for, it may be a good idea to look at the features of the specific card (not the brand). The most important features, of course, are interest rate and Annual fees.

Major international competitors of Visa and MasterCard include American Express and Discover. Some regional competitors are RuPay in India, as well as NETS and EzLink in Singapore.

edit Acceptance

Both VISA and MasterCard are accepted by most merchants. Some merchants do not accept certain cards because of higher payment processing fees. Although such fees do not affect consumers, they do affect the merchants. A recent survey found that

List of merchants that accept VISA but do not accept MasterCard

List of merchants that accept MasterCard but do not accept VISA

List of merchants that accept neither MasterCard nor VISA

In January 2005, Washington Mutual decided to switch its 10.5 million-card debit portfolio from VISA to MasterCard.

Sometimes, just like cards have their own cash back rewards, merchants have special "promotional" offers with certain types of cards. In order to take advantage of all such promos, it may be advisable to have both types of cards.

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