What is the difference between VISA and Mastercard?

If you open your wallet and take out a credit card, chances are that it is issued by either Visa or Mastercard.

There are also other cards issued by, for example, American Express or Diners. However, these are less likely to be accepted by regular merchants, as their transaction fees are often higher than for cards issued by Visa and Mastercard.


Visa as a brand was founded in 1970 and is owned by an American publicly traded company - Visa Inc.

Like Mastercard, Visa does not issue its cards directly to the end consumer, but works with card institutions and banks who in turn deliver the cards to the recipient.

Visa Electron

Visa Electron is a simple card that requires funds in your account to make purchases. As with Mastercard's equivalent, Maestro, it is not possible to make purchases offline. Visa Electron must therefore always be connected to the bank for the card to work.

Credit card

Of course, Visa also has credit cards, both for individuals and businesses. In this case, all purchases made are compiled on an invoice that is later sent to the cardholder once a month. Visa does not only have one credit card solution, but there is a plethora of different variants and options.


Mastercard Inc. was founded in 1966 and is an American company. As with Visa, Mastercard does not issue cards directly to the user, there is always an intermediary between Mastercard/Visa as issuer and the end customer. Mastercard and Visa have worldwide coverage and are a secure way to handle payments.

Debit Mastercard

Debit Mastercard is a credit card linked to a bank account. When a purchase is made on the card, the money is deducted directly from the linked account.


A card with the features of Maestro means that you always have to be connected to the bank to make a purchase. Just like with a Visa Electron card. You can therefore not make purchases with a Mastercard Mestro or Visa Electron from certain flights, underground or other places where coverage may be poor.

Credit card

A "regular" Mastercard is a credit card that has all purchases collected on one invoice and sent to the cardholder's home once a month. The cardholder can then decide whether to pay the full amount at once or to pay the invoice in installments.

An advantage that many people see with these credit cards is that they often come with some kind of benefit, such as a points system, access to lounges when traveling or insurance. It's not Mastercard itself that delivers these, but these conditions can differ between issuers and their different cards. Many use different tiers, often related to the credit limit or the amount spent.

What is the difference between Visa and Mastercard?

It can be difficult to perceive any real differences between Mastercard and Visa. The general differences between Visa and Mastercard are:

  • Mastercard has slightly better international coverage and is accepted by more merchants overall than Visa.
  • Visa prohibits merchants from charging an additional fee for purchases made with a Visa card. This is common for American Express and Diners cards in Sweden, where some merchants have decided to charge an additional fee for purchases with these cards.
  • Visa also prohibits merchants from setting a minimum amount for card purchases, which could affect kiosks, supermarkets and other businesses where you can buy cheap products in bulk.
  • Mastercard has a slightly better exchange rate than Visa. However, it is so marginal that it is more important for you as a cardholder to keep track of the currency surcharge that the card institution or bank imposes.

Fees and insurance from Visa and Mastercard

Fees such as monthly and annual fees can vary enormously between Visa, Mastercard and the respective card issuers. These fees and sometimes even hidden costs are not set by Visa or Mastercard, but by the card issuer.

However, there are a variety of services offered directly from the Visa and MasterCard product portfolio.

For example, Mastercard can offer cancellation and fraud protection, while Visa has travel insurance linked to its cards. Visa also offers compensation for delayed baggage and a range of other travel and stay-related benefits offer which is why many frequent travelers use a Visa card.

So look at your needs. If you are a frequent traveler, a card issued by Visa may be particularly suitable for you.

Is Mastercard or Visa best?

It is not the producer of the card itself, i.e. Visa or Mastercard, that will be the main concern for you as a cardholder. It is the bank or institution that provides the final product of the card itself.

But wait, now it just got harder to choose the right one?

Well, not really. In fact, we've compared Sweden's best credit cards for entrepreneurs so you can choose which cards are best for you. Or simply apply for a business card from Qred now!