As a consumer, does it matter to me whether my card is Visa or Mastercard?

This question was prompted by First Direct’s imminent switch from Visa to Mastercard, but it’s not specific to them. Does it matter to me as a member of public what card scheme my card uses? I can think of two tiny ways:

  • the authorisation and charging pattern is different for contactless travel on TfL
  • at the London 2012 Olympics, Visa being an Olympics sponsor meant that in-venue vendors weren’t allowed to accept Mastercard (or indeed anything apart from Visa). Corporate blurb memorably included the line “We are proud to only accept Visa”, which is seriously high-grade BS. I don’t know if this continued to be the case at later Olympics

That’s literally all I can think of. Does it ever really matter?

1 Like

Only if one has technical issues and goes offline.

Hence why I have VISA, Mastercard, and AmEx credit cards, to cover all bases.


Curious what the differences are here ?

1 Like

I think you’ve sort of answered your own question!

The simple answer is that no, for the most part it doesn’t matter. If you try to use your card in a shop as an average member of the public, 99.99% of the time it will be accepted regardless of whether it is Visa or Mastercard.

The more detailed answer is that, very occasionally, it can matter. Despite acceptance in general being virtually identical, the odd quirk (as you mention with the Olympics) means that you could end up in a situation where only one works. In some more remote parts of the world, sometimes acceptance is better for one than the other as well (not that either is better overall, as some countries will be more likely to accept Visa and others Mastercard).

Then there are slight technical differences between the two, again as you mention with TfL, which most people wouldn’t notice but do exist. That doesn’t really matter as it makes little difference to the experience of the customer.

I would recommend carrying at least one of each as @PaulUK suggests, just in case of technical problems with one scheme or the other, which would also “solve” the other minor problems.


I can’t believe they got away with this!


It was probably OK for British people as if you think back Visa had a virtually 100% share of the debit card market at the time.

I think only Metro Bank and Yorkshire/Clydesdale, plus some banks in Northern Ireland, weren’t using it?

It may have made things difficult for international travellers or anyone wanting to use a credit card though!

1 Like

I forgot to mention card scheme rules, which differ between the two and can be more or less favourable to the customer.

Chargeback rights, for example, are better under Mastercard than Visa.

With Visa, you can’t use chargeback for anything below £10, but Mastercard allow any amount to be disputed by chargeback.


Cash was also dominant back then

Yes, if somebody wanted to pay using Mastercard (for example) but couldn’t, they would just fallback to cash without really complaining.

It would be more difficult to do that now, as people expect good card acceptance these days. They’d be more likely to make a fuss!

Most places online accept visa compared to MasterCard in my experience

Never found an online retailer yet that didn’t accept MasterCard


Amex, on the other hand… :upside_down_face:

To stay on topic though, I don’t think I ever experienced any differences whether using Visa/MasterCard, either in the UK, or abroad


The main for me is having a back up if and when places don’t accept one card type.

I’ve never had the problem in the UK, but when travelling across Europe I’ve found a mix of retailers who only take one MC or Visa.

Caught me out in an Albert Heijn once in the Netherlands. Had to go running to a cashpoint :confused:

As a result for travel at least I like to have a back up Visa just in case.


I’ve only ever found two that didn’t

The only time I’ve noticed a difference was a number of years ago when visa experienced a significant outage affecting all cards (regardless of issuing bank) that prevented any visa transaction going through (I recall it affected all of Europe). I went into McDonald’s and there were scores of people unable to pay as visa was the dominant card type for folks. I remember walking up to the self service machine to put my order through as people watched my transaction successfully go through on my hot coral card!

Other than that I’ve not really noticed a difference.


Costco, Bidfoods, Welocks, ADZ, Payplan, Lowell, RentACar, multiple fuel pumps, adrianF all don’t accept MasterCard

They both accept mastercard, not idea who the next few are, but RentACar do and I would think UK fuel pumps do.


With the exception of 3 I couldn’t find

RentACar - edit to this as Revels confirmed they do

All others accept MasterCard debit cards. Also just to add fuel pumps aren’t online retailers. Pretty sure most fuel pumps accept them too.

1 Like

So am I. I guess I’m allowed to experiment now so I could find out but I’ll accept someone else telling me :slight_smile:

1 Like

He might mean one card issuer will charge you straight away vs the other one at the end of the day by adding the total up then take it out around 2am