Most of us use them to pay for purchases every day, but how much do you actually know about Mastercard and Visa?
To start with, neither brand actually issues cards. They are simply the names of the payment networks that process the transactions, and make their money by charging merchants.
Each card is widely available in the UAE, with 22 institutions issuing Mastercard cards, and 31 issuing Visa cards, according to their websites.
Both companies operate in more than 200 countries worldwide; each of them has a similar range, from the prepaid to basic credit and debit cards right up to premium.
Even the differences between them are similar, with both Mastercard and Visa offering their own versions of ‘contact-less’ technology, online security and benefits.
So what are the differences?
1. Online security
Both Mastercard and Visa use similar methods of protecting cardholders online.
Mastercard offers SecureCode, which is a number known only by you and your bank to help protect you when you shop online. All you have to do is enter your Mastercard number and type in your SecureCode whenever you shop at participating retailers. Once your identity has been confirmed, you can complete your transaction.
Visa operates a global secure network called VisaNet, which uses multiple layers of security to scan for something amiss like a mismatched address or an unusually large purchase to detect fraud, according to Visa’s website. In addition, the company uses a system called Verified by Visa, which either requires a password or a code that your bank sends you via SMS for online purchases.
Visa’s UAE General Manager, Marcello Baricordi, who is also Global Accounts Lead for MENA, said: “The Visa brand offers safety, security and the convenience of electronics payments across the world. Our unique payments platform – VisaNet – is capable of processing more than 47,000 transaction messages per second. With tools such as advanced authorization, we risk-score transactions in real-time and potentially stop fraud before it happens.”
2. Technology: Contactless payment and apps
Both Mastercard and Visa offer contactless methods of payment.
Mastercard uses PayPass, which allows cardholders to tap their card on the logo, wait for a beep and the green light that shows the payment was successful. If the purchase is under $35, there is no need to sign or enter a PIN number.
Mastercard’s UAE Country Head, Eyad Al-Kourdi, said: “From payment tools that offer unmatched global lifestyle privileges and rewards, to customized products that are aligned with the individual lifestyle requirements of cardholders and next-generation payment options, we have developed a vast portfolio of products that allow everyone to conduct cashless transactions in a fast, convenient and secure manner.”
Visa offers payWave. All you have to do is hold the card within 4cm of the payWave card reader when the first blue light blinks. A yellow light appears to show that the transaction is in process and once it is complete it changes to green. No signature or pin is required.
Both companies also have special apps. Visa’s allow customers to access offers on dining, shopping, entertainment and travel, while Mastercard Nearby helps users find a place to use a contactless device, reload their prepaid card, get cashback or use an ATM.
3. Benefits: Special offers and airport access
Holders of Titanium, Platinum, Premium, World or World Elite Mastercard will receive access to Dubai International Airport Marhaba Lounges at Terminal 1, 2 and 3 (Concourse A and B), and Terminal 4 at the Dubai World Central.
Last year Mastercard also introduced Priceless Arabia, a shopping, dining, travel and entertainment deals program across MENA.
Current deals include 20 percent off your total bill when you pay with MasterCard at more than 50 of Jumeirah’s restaurants.
Mr Al-Kourdi said: “From payment tools that offer unmatched global lifestyle privileges and rewards to customized products that are aligned with the individual lifestyle requirements of cardholders and next-generation payment options, we have developed a vast portfolio of products that allow everyone to conduct cashless transactions in a fast, convenient and secure manner.”
Visa also offers its cardholders special deals, including a deal to buy two VOX gold tickets and get one free. Mr Baricordi said: “Visa’s premium credit products offer a host of privileges to cardholders, including complimentary lounge access, travel and hospitality upgrades and other tailored benefits.”