What's the Difference Between Visa, Mastercard, Discover and AmEx? | CreditShout

What’s the Difference Between Visa, Mastercard, Discover and AmEx?

By Kevin / May 13, 2009

THIS PAGE MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. MEANING WE RECEIVE COMMISSIONS FOR PURCHASES MADE THROUGH THOSE LINKS, AT NO COST TO YOU. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

It can be very confusing choosing a credit card when you don’t have any clue the difference between the card issuers. Is one better than the other? The truth is the differences are very minor.

To begin with, Visa and Mastercard are not actual issuers, they’re merely payment networks. This means that they are computer systems that process credit card transactions. Banks use either Visa or Mastercard and it is the financial institution, bank or credit union that actually issues you the credit card. There isn’t much difference between Visa and Mastercard for the consumer; both offer similar benefits. Mastercard and Visa both put limits on the liability a consumer is responsible for if a card is stolen or lost. They both also allow you to charge back  merchandise that is broken or damaged. In addition, most places that accept one accept the other.

Discover cards are different and not as widely accepted. They issue cards through the Discover Bank–plus a few partnered banks–and are known for offering the best cash-back and rewards cards. The Discover More card is the better known of these.

American Express began as an exclusive lender, only providing charge cards, not credit cards, to very select customers. American Express still has a higher reputation than the other three, although they now issue credit cards to the general public. American Express cards are not nearly as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercard.

As you can see, it matters little which issuer you choose. The best way to decide which to go with is to realize what’s most important to you. Do you prefer a card that can be used at the most places, a card that will offer the best rewards, or a credit card that comes with a reputation? The answer to this question will help steer you on your way.

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone.Additionally, the opinions of the commenters are not necessarily the opinions of this site

Leave a comment:


shares