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What’s the Difference Between Mastercard vs Visa vs American Express Credit Cards?

Denise Bay

Denise Bay

Last updated 26 April, 2022

Mastercard vs Visa? Visa vs American Express? Mastercard vs American Express? You aren’t alone if you’ve ever wondered about their differences.  

We come into contact with Mastercard, Visa and American Express regularly but have you ever wondered about their differences? Most of us know that Mastercard and Visa cards are pretty much accepted anywhere and everywhere on the globe while the same cannot be said for American Express cards. 

That’s not all there is to how different Mastercard, Visa and American Express credit cards may be, though. 

Read on to learn more about Mastercard, Visa and American Express and whether or not the logo on your credit card matters when it comes to picking the best credit card for your needs. 


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Mastercard vs Visa

#1 Card issuance 

First things first, Mastercard and Visa do not issue credit cards. In fact, they don’t even handle merchants' or credit card users’ accounts. 

Both Mastercard and Visa are payment processors — they ensure their card networks function as intended so transactions can be processed smoothly without hiccups. 

#2 Acceptance rate worldwide

You have close to nothing to worry about when it comes to acceptance and usage of Mastercard and Visa cards. Most online merchants, including brick-and-mortar retailers, that accept credit cards accept both Mastercard and Visa cards. This rings true even for contactless payments! 

#3 Security and consumer protection

Mastercard and Visa are major global companies with secure payment platforms that allow for safe transactions to take place.  

Apart from keeping sensitive card details safe from prying eyes, merchants and fraudsters, depending on the Mastercard or Visa card you hold, you may even be eligible for complimentary e-Commerce purchase protection insurance. 

#4 How to get a Mastercard or Visa card 

You need to go through a bank or an institution to get your hands on a Mastercard or Visa card. For example, you can go to Citibank to get the well-loved Citi Cash Back Card, which is a generous cashback Mastercard. Want expiry-free miles and free airport lounge access? You may go to DBS to get the DBS Altitude Visa Credit Card

The above-mentioned two cards are just examples. There are plenty of credit cards in the market for your consideration. Just in case you need some convincing, credit cards are great financial tools so long as you use them responsibly!

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#5 Benefits 

There are benefits you can enjoy as a Mastercard or Visa cardmember. The exact suite of benefits you can access is tied to your Mastercard or Visa’s card tier (more on this below). 

The payment network-wide benefits are available regardless of which bank you got your credit card or debit card from. 

Types of Mastercard cardsPerks 
Standard- Standard Mastercard perks only 
Platinum - Standard Mastercard perks
- Priceless experiences 
World - Standard Mastercard perks
- Priceless experiences
- Golf privileges
- ShopRunner membership
- Mastercard travel privileges and offers 
- Mastercard Airport Experiences
- Mastercard e-Commerce purchase protection insurance
World Elite- Standard Mastercard perks
- Priceless experiences
- Golf privileges
- ShopRunner membership
- World Elite luxury tours, vacations, cruises, privileges and offers
- World Elite concierge
- World Elite chauffeured car programme
- World Elite car rental membership
- Mastercard e-Commerce purchase protection insurance

For those who are curious, Standard Mastercard perks include Mastercard ID Theft Protection, Mastercard Liability Protection and Global Emergency Services. 

DBS/POSB Credit Card Welcome Gift: Receive S$250 cashback or up to 60,000 miles when you apply for select DBS credit cards and fulfil the relevant promotion criteria. T&Cs apply.


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Types of Visa Card Perks 
Platinum - Visa Platinum concierge 
- Visa Platinum privileges
Signature - Visa Signature concierge 
- Visa Luxury Hotel Collection premium benefits 
- Visa Signature privileges
Infinite - Visa Infinite concierge 
- Visa Luxury Hotel Collection premium benefits 
- WhiteCoat offers 
- Visa Infinite golf benefits 
- Visa Infinite privileges

All Visa cards offer Global Acceptance, Global Customer Assistance and Global ATM network, in addition to the privileges, convenience and security you can enjoy. 

HSBC Credit Card Welcome Gift:

For HSBC TravelOne Card Only: Receive 20,000 miles (equal to a round trip to Bali) when you make a min. spend of S$1,000 within the qualifying spend period, pay the annual fee (S$194.40 incl. GST) and provide marketing consent when you apply. Valid till 31 December 2023. T&Cs apply.

For Other HSBC Credit Cards: Receive a Samsonite ZELTUS 69cm Spinner Exp with built-in scale (worth S$680) or S$150 cashback when you make a min. spend of S$1,000 by the end of the following calendar month from the card account opening date and provide marketing consent. Valid till 31 December 2023. T&Cs apply.

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SingSaver Exclusive Offer: Receive an Apple AirPods Gen 3 (worth S$271.50) or up to S$270 SUPER Upsized Cash via PayNow when you apply and spend at least S$250 within 30 days of card approval. Valid till 17 October 2023. T&Cs apply.

Plus, get an additional $20 Bonus Cash when you put your card-on-file and spend at least $20 on select merchants within 30 days of Card approval. Participating merchants: Shopee, Lazada, Taobao, EzBuy, Qoo10, Carousell & Netflix.

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Difference between Mastercard and Visa

You’re not alone if you think Mastercard and Visa are very similar. The only real difference standing between Mastercard and Visa is that your credit card or debit card works on the payment network that the company operates. 

Put simply, a Mastercard card will not work on Visa’s network, and vice versa. 

Which is better: Visa or Mastercard?

To be honest, it doesn’t matter whether you get a Mastercard or Visa card. Both are secure, widely accepted around the world and offer fairly similar payment network-wide benefits.

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American Express in Singapore

Did you know that American Express is both a payment processor as well as card issuer? Unlike the other two major payment networks Mastercard and Visa, American Express issues its own credit cards to consumers.

As American Express issues credit cards to its customers, the company has control over and is responsible for: 

  • Reviewing all their credit card applications;
  • Reporting payments and missed payments to the Credit Bureau Singapore;
  • Designing card benefits, offers and promotions; 
  • Providing customer service and more

American Express cards in Singapore 

Although the global acceptance of American Express credit cards pales in comparison to those of Visa and Mastercard cards, believe it or not, American Express cards are increasingly being accepted by both online and in-store merchants in Singapore. 

In case you were wondering, only a couple of banks in Singapore offer co-branded American Express credit cards. 

You can, of course, apply directly with American Express for their credit cards (e.g. American Express Platinum Card) or Singapore Airlines co-branded credit cards (e.g. American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card). 

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American Express benefits 

Apart from truly exceptional customer service that you can’t really get from local banks, American Express offers a whole host of generic benefits that aim to please: 

  • Refund Protection
  • Purchase Protection
  • Online Fraud Protection
  • Online Account Access
  • American Express Offers 
  • Travel Inconvenience & Travel Accident Benefits
  • American Express Global AssistTM
  • American Express Dining Privileges
  • American Express Selects® 
  • Card security and protection
  • Emergency Card Replacement
  • 24/7 Customer Service

Amex Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card Welcome Gift: Receive an American Tourister Hypebeat Spinner 79/29 Exp TSA (worth S$239) + 15,300 KrisFlyer miles with annual fee payment within the first month of card approval. For new to American Express Card Members only. Valid till 31 October 2023. T&Cs apply.

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Mastercard vs Visa vs American Express: Which is the best? 

MastercardVisaAmerican Express
Payment processorYesYesYes
Countries and territories supported210+200+160+
Popular local partners and co-brands Citi, UOB, CIMB, DBS, Maybank, OCBC, Standard Chartered,DBS, Standard Chartered, HSBC, UOB, CIMB, Maybank, OCBCSingapore Airlines, UOB, DBS, CapitaLand 
Fraud liability Zero liability for Credit card transactions
 Signature debit card transactions

PIN debit card transactions (if processed by Mastercard) 
Zero liability for Credit card transactions

Signature debit card transactions

PIN debit card transactions (if processed by Visa)
Zero liability for credit card transactions 
Customer serviceN/AN/AFantastic 

Conclusion: Mastercard or Visa or American Express?

The truth is, it’s not strategic to pick a credit card based on its payment network (i.e. Mastercard. Visa and American Express). 

In terms of local use at least, Mastercard, Visa and American Express cards all have pretty good acceptance rates, offers and benefits, and consumer protection. If you’re a globetrotter or even an aspiring one, then you will likely appreciate having a Mastercard or Visa card in tow. 

When it comes to picking the right credit cards that you can use and potentially benefit from, you need to first consider your lifestyle and spending habits. Thereafter, have a look at all the options available on the market. The card features, benefits and rewards that banks have to offer are important considerations that shouldn’t be dismissed when you’re studying which credit card to apply for. 

Read these next
Do Credit Cards Still Have A Place In Your Life?
5 Signs It’s Time To Upgrade Your Debit Card To A Credit Card
6 Credit Cards Which Give Free Access to Airport Lounges
4 Types Of Credit Cards With Lifetime Annual Fee Waivers
Top Credit Card Promotions And Deals On SingSaver

While Denise has a thing for travel, K-dramas, 0% sugar bbt (with boba!), Japanese cuisine and flat white, her curious nature means all sorts of random tabs are open on her phone 24/7. She doesn’t like to pay full price for anything, too.


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