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What's the difference?
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Visa or MC. What's the difference?

Between what?

Fuskie
Who believes technically they are different companies on the back end but they are virtually identical as far as customers are concerned...
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What's the difference between Visa and MC? Darn good question! They're virtually hard to tell the difference apart between the two of them. Some banks issue MC's, others Visas, and others issue both. I've never had to use any of the special services from Mastercard or Visa, because usually the issuer has been able to resolve any issues I've had.

The biggest difference depends on which issuer you get, because both cards start with a basic set of features (very similar), and the issuer adds features and benefits based on how they are marketing their version of the card. Many issuers issue many different flavors of the card - seen the Chase ad, or the former Bank One ads, or the MBNA ads, where they tout the different cards they offer? Some of us Fools even have multiple MCs or Visas with the same issuer, but with different perks on each one.

Nine times out of ten, if they take Visa, they take MC, and vice-versa. There are promotions from each issuer to encourage activity on their cards.
http://www.mastercard.com/us/specialoffers/index.html
http://www.usa.visa.com/personal/?it=il|/index.html|Personal

Within each of these cards, there are choices such as debit (checking), standard, student, gold, platinum, world/signature, business, etc....

- Lan
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What's the difference between Visa and MC? Darn good question! They're virtually hard to tell the difference apart between the two of them.

Oh, silly me... I forgot.
The visa has a visa logo with yellow and blue; the mastercard logo is a pair of circles that is red and yellow.
Visa and MC have special numbers for their assistance programs. (usually I just call the issuer first anyway)
Visa's start with 4xxx...; Mastercards usually start with 5xxx... (someone will probably chime in about the Diners Club in North America, issued by Citibank...)

- Lan
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As others have said, domestically there is not much difference. I have yet to find anywhere in the US that accepts one, but not the other. However, travelling abroad (mostly in Asia) I have found places that only accept one.

-Ben
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So, barring the fashion preference of the Visa symbol or the two little circles…

It sounds like keeping one of each is a good idea if traveling abroad expected.

I like to keep two cards: one is a primary, the other I use occasionally for work related travel and just-in-case backup (like if the primary is lost, and I'm leaving for vacation).

The question was brought up because the Fool is offering mastercard and visa, and I wanted to look into replacing one of mine.

Thanks for the input
wilkejt1
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The difference is mostly historical. Visa has always been a company, owned by all the banks that issue Visa cards. It was created for the purpose of operating the payment mechanisms.

MasterCard wasn't always a company in its own right; it was originally a branding and marketing package (dubbed MasterCharge back then) collectively used by a group of banks in the 1940s. Around 1967, the banks that used the MasterCharge name followed the lead of Visa (then called BankAmericard as it was primarily run by Bank of America) in setting up a centralized payment processing network.

Partially because of that history, Visa has a somewhat more centralized management structure, which is why it's generally a bit ahead of MasterCard on new offerings like check cards. But nowadays, most banks that issue credit cards belong to both the Visa and Mastercard networks anyway, so there really isn't any difference as far as the consumer is concerned.

- Erik
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When it comes to disputes MC tends more towards the merchant and Visa tends more towards the consumer.

(This is from friends who work in our dispute department and have to know the rules of both companies.)
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