MasterCard vs Visa in Canada



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Most people get confused trying to decide between Visa and MasterCard due to their striking similarities. Yet, their differences are what make them stand out.

Credit cards are a household item in Canada as it has gradually grown to become one of the most beneficial contributors towards financial health.

Since there are tons of credit cards available in Canada, deciding on the most suitable one can be a hassle. Different payment options cut across various expenses alongside several financial products -Visa and MasterCard are the most prominent.

Let review MasterCard vs Visa in Canada, their similarities and differences.

Overview of MasterCard and Visa

Despite their popularity as two of Canada’s largest credit card companies, MasterCard and Visa do not issue credit cards. Surprised? Don’t be. They are a credit card processing network—their work is to control where credit cards are accepted and facilitate payment between merchants and credit card issuers.

MasterCard and Visa are accepted globally; it will be rare to see a retail store that does not accept either of these cards. They both partner with financial institutions and retailers to issue credit cards to consumers. This partnership enables credit card issuers to fund cards and establish terms and conditions.

Some of these terms include annual fees, interest rates, late fees, etc. Also, these card issuers determine the perks such as cashback, reward point, etc., that comes with your card.

Most card issuers use an exclusive credit card processing network as their partner, while others have multiple partnerships. The goal is to provide seamless services to customers.

Types of MasterCard and Visa Credit card

Both Visa and MasterCard issue different credit card classification in Canada and their cards have zero liability protection against fraud. So, it is always advisable to protect your card details and not to disclose them.

With Visa, you can get the following card classification:

  • Classic: basic services
  • Gold: this card comes with auto rental collision damage coverage, fraud protection, emergency card protection and emergency roadside assistance.
  • Platinum: this card comes with all the conventional perks alongside extended warranty protection and worldwide travel and emergency support.
  • Infinite: this card comes with all Signature benefits alongside return protection, lost luggage reimbursement, purchase protection, travel accident insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance.

While Mastercard provides the following credit card classification:

  • Classic – this is the standard card MasterCard issues to customers. It is a low-cost credit card with regular benefits like identity theft protection, emergency card replacement, and zero fraud liability.
  • World – this card is an upgrade to the classic card. Alongside the feature you get on the classic card, this card comes with cell phone insurance, MasterCard Travel and Lifestyle services.
  • World Elite – it is a premium card with all the perks of lower-level cards and additional bonuses. Bonuses such as exclusive foreign exchange fees and great promotional deals.

There is a similarity with the Classic card offered by Visa and MasterCard as both do not have a minimum income requirement. That is, anybody qualifies for this card.

However, if you’re applying for a Visa Gold or MasterCard Word card, you must possess a minimum annual income of at least CA$60,000. On the other hand, the Visa Infinite and MasterCard World Elite require an average income of CA$85,000 to qualify. 

Benefits of a MasterCard

As stated above, the MasterCard network offers three tiers of credit cards. Each level has the following perks:

The standard MasterCard offers the essential services; the best amenities start from the World and World Elite credit cards. World and World Elite Mastercard credit cards come with price protection.

That is, for any item you purchase, the price is lowered within 60 days of purchase. The network will refund you the change up to a particular amount per claim. 

For holders of World and Elite Mastercard cards, the protection is extended to 120 days. Bear in mind that not all items are covered under price protection.

These cards also come with concierge services; you can have your restaurant reservations scheduled, get event tickets, or procure scarce items at ease.

There is a mobile app cardholder can download to utilize the Mastercard Concierge to ease use. This app gives access to unlimited information and discounts on special promotions going on around your city. 

Another unique perk of the World card is the World Hotels & Resorts program. This gives cardholders access to book stays with any participating hotel. You will be offered excellent benefits like late check-out, free room upgrades, and complimentary breakfast. Note that these benefits vary per hotel.

With a World Elite MasterCard, you have access to luxurious event deals. You get personalized access to golf outings, discounts on first and business-class airfare with participating airlines. 

Benefits of VISA Cards

The Visa cards come with a more concise benefit structure around its three tiers – the standard Visa and Visa Signature. The first tier offers the essential benefit, nothing exceptional. While the Visa Signature has most of the network’s unique services. Some of the best among them are:

  • Lost luggage(s) reimbursement – cardholders will be reimbursed for damages up to CA$3,000 or CA$2,000 per bag if the airline losses your baggage on a flight. 
  • Signature Luxury Hotel Collection – by booking via the Visa website, you can get low rates on over 900 participating hotels with some add-on perks. This is only applicable when you use your Visa Signature card. Also, there are additional benefits such as room upgrades and late check-out. 

Note that Visa does not provide price protection to cardholders; however, some issuers with Visa cards do.

Similarities Between Visa and MasterCard

As mentioned earlier, Visa and MasterCard are identical in several ways. Some of these similarities are due to federal regulations, while others are part of the industry standards that issuers required of network providers for their cardholders.

  • Protection

Both Visa and MasterCard protect against unauthorized charges. That is, if you notice your credit card is used to make a purchase you didn’t authorize, you can report the transaction to your card issuer and have the transaction reversed.

In a case like this, Visa or MasterCard are the ones to cover the cost. However, federal law permits the user to be responsible for up to CA$50 in charges while Visa or MasterCard covers the rest.

  • Damage Waiver

Cardholders of Visa or MasterCard are eligible to receive collision insurance for their vehicle. That is, if you rent a car using a Visa or MasterCard credit card and an accident happens, your issuer might waive the cost of the damage.

This is only applicable when you decline the rental company’s collision insurance and pay for the entire cost using your credit card. You can talk to your issuer to learn more.

  • Extended warranties

Most transactions you make using a Visa or MasterCard will be given additional refund protection and warranties. This is done in case of damage, loss or theft. Note that the warranty coverage varies per card and province in Canada.

Differences Between a Visa and a Mastercard

Despite the benefits and similarities each of these credit cards offers, there are tons of significant differences between a Visa card and a Mastercard. These differences are what might influence your decision on what card to get.

  • Acceptability

Although both Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted worldwide, some store branches only take one of both. For example, Costco wholesalers in Canada accept Mastercards, while their American units accept Visa only. 

Although you might not encounter this variation often, it is always advisable to check where your particular card is accepted before applying for it. MasterCard currently has a slightly larger global reach than Visa, with cash advance payment available for both.

  • Cost

Although the different costs attached to a Visa card and Mastercard are comparable, the prices you’ll pay yearly depend on the credit card you choose and where you get it. Note that the issuer regulates all credit card rates and fees. Below are some of the price differences between a Visa card and a Mastercard.

  • Annual fee

Visa Infinite Card

  • Yearly fee – CA$139
  • Minimum Personal Income to Qualify – CA$60,000
  • Required Credit Score = Good – Excellent 

World Elite Mastercard

  • Annual fee – CA$150
  • Minimum Personal Income to Qualify – CA$80,000
  • Required Credit Score – Good – Excellent

The MasterCard has a slightly higher annual fee and requires a higher personal income to qualify. The Visa Infinite card, on the other hand, requires a lesser average household income.

Mastercard vs Visa card – Which is better?

Your credit card choice should not be solely on whether it’s a Visa or MasterCard. There are tons of other criteria you can you to make your decisions, such as interest rates, benefits, monthly fees, and rewards.

The differences between these cards do not matter as their similarities and features are striking. Choosing either of the two or both depends on your daily financial needs and the convenience with which you want to carry out transactions. 

Bear in mind that the credit card you can qualify for will depend on your credit. Hence, it is always advisable to maintain a good and excellent credit score.

The best credit card rewards and benefits are primarily available to people with excellent credit. Nonetheless, there are other credit cards available for people with average credit.

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Avid researcher, freelance writer, and personal finance enthusiast passionate about financial education and literacy.

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Kareena Maya

Personal Finance and Travel Rewards Expert Contributor



Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.

Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.