Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover debit cards review

5 July 2017

In our minds, debit cards work much like our cell phones. We all have a different network (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc), and we all have different models (Apple, Samsung, Google, etc), but as long as the phone works for us, then we are not complaining.

However, when you are shopping around for your first cell phone, you have to do your research. The same goes for your debit card. Although your first debit card might be the one your bank offers, or something tied to a retail outlet, you still need to do some research on what card will work best for you. How do you choose between the four main card companies?

Here is some information on what each card processing provider offers, and how it might best fit your personal or business wallet.

Defining the issuers and card networks

Let’s begin with Visa and MasterCard. They cannot be considered as companies that issue debit cards. Though, the systems operate as middleman structures forming the network out of business institutions, including major banks that open cards bearing Visa’s or MasterCard’s commercial name, and sellers, supplying merchandise and services. The issuer, a term characterizing the banks, and sellers pay charges to take part in the Visa or MasterCard systems. Visa and MasterCard lay down and observe rules regulating utilization of their trademark cards.

American Express and Discover are unique in contrast with Visa and MasterCard. This is due to the fact that American Express and Discover can function both as a network and as an issuer: they are a bank and a debit card company. Sometimes they have an affinity or partnership with another entity, but for the most part, they act by themselves. They run on what it names a “closed-loop network” and offer the full scope of debit card services, performing four roles: a card issuer, a seller, an operation processor and a network.

visa and mastercard

Differences between debit cards

The four fundamental debit card networks – Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover – specify where debit cards can be utilized. Nevertheless, the systems are not identical. Visa and MasterCard boast a substantial margin in terms of worldwide acceptance, while American Express and Discover operate their business by issuing cards directly to customers. Rental car insurance within the card network, extended warranty period, and fraud liability policies range broadly too.

The debit card market data shown below will provide you the insight into hierarchy observed in the card network environment.  The systems are put in comparison focused on services offering by debit cards while travelling abroad, their security, returns and exchanges, customer service, as well as their premium perks.

Visa MasterCard American Express Discover
















– Accepted in over 200 countries.

– Emergency card substitution in one banking day.

– Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver meets the cost of the car for up to 15 days in your resident country or 31 days while going abroad. Compared to other systems, Visa meets steal, accidents, “loss of use” and towing expenses.

– Emergency services are available all over the world via helpline with 24/7 access.

– Accepted in over 210 countries.

– Place sellers and ATMs around the world with PayPass app.

– Rental Car Collision coverage may not be provided with all cards. Limitations are practiced due to the type of car and country where it is leased.

– 24/7 helpline emergency services operators all over the world.

– Accepted in 140 countries.

– Baggage insurance using some commission-free cards.

– VIP cardholders get unpaid recovery truck service with Roadside Assistance.

– Car rental security meets theft or loss expenses up to $50,000 with extra coverage accessible for a fixed $25 remuneration.

– Reward points can be utilized on the American Express travel site and with 1,300 reward partners all over the world.

– Card owners are in position to buy extra travel insurance, health coverage and luggage protection.

– No commission on transactions while going abroad.

– Auto Rental Insurance. Utilize your card and receive up to $25,000 in car coverage with your rental.

– Flight Accident Insurance. Buy tickets using your card and obtain up to $500,000 in coverage.

Security – Verified by Visa, utilizes extra password for reliable online transactions.

– Fraud monitoring alerts clients to unusual expenses.

– Zero liability for fraudulent fees, but does not contain ATM operations.

– Monitoring services to find out and warn fraudulent expenses.

– Zero liability security is practiced once you inform a lost or stolen card.

– ID Theft victims get support connecting card agencies.

– Monitoring systems catch unusual activity and warn clients.

– Fraud protection covers you without deductibles.

– Input of account code, so you are aware of, if it is legit.

– Freeze It option provides freezing your account instantly to protect other transactions on your account.

– Zero Fraud Liability Guarantee.

– 24/7 fraud security.

– Free overnight card are supplied on demand, if it is ever lost or stolen.

Customer Service – mobile wallet function for U.S. and Europe consumers. – MasterCard Connect option to provide data and customer service more accessible. – Account notifications via e-mail and texts inform you about transactions.

– Mobile app allows you check balances, pay bills and browse bonuses.

– U.S.-based customer service.

– Cash at checkout with zero fees.

– Year-end summary. Access to detailed analysis of your annual card expenses.

Returns & Exchanges – Purchases defective /stolen within 90 days are refund by Visa.

– One year extended warranty, if seller’s warranty is less than 3 years.

– Price protection reimburses costs, if you find out a lower price in 60 days.

– Purchases are refund within 90 days from steal / loss with some limitations.

– Return Protection refunds you up to $250, if you alter your mind within 60 days and seller rejects to return unused item.

– Extended Warranties applied to seller’s warranties within 1 year or less.

– Purchase Protection within 90 days against steal or loss.

– Extended Warranties within 1 year on seller’s warranties up to 5 years.

– Return Protection refunds up to $300, if a seller rejects to return an unutilized item within 90 days, applied to only U.S., Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.

– Return Guarantee within 90 days of buying, up to $500 on desirable items and $2,500 per year.

– Price Protection within 90 days of buying, up to $500 per item and $2,500 per year.

– Extended Product Warranty of 36 months or less on desirable items.

– Purchase Protection against steal and loss up to $500, within 90 days of buying.

Premium Perks Visa Signature:

– No pre-established expense restrictions.

– Concierge services provide exclusive discounts, complimentary items, pre-event ticket purchases and upgrades.

– Refund of lost baggage, travel and emergency assistance.

– Online Marketplace offers discounts and business on goods.

– Purchase at grocery shops and benefit $.0.03/gallon discount on gas with the Fuel Rewards service.

– Eat at a restaurant and profit $0.01/gallon discount for every $50 spent with the Fuel Rewards dining service.

– Concierge services, insurance and extra services are accessible only on VIP cards.

– Concierge services for exclusive discounts, deals and pre-sale tickets.

– By Invitation Only provides premium trips, events and experiences.

– Cashback Bonus on every purchase.

– 5% Cashback Bonus for every dollar you spend in rotating categories up to the quarterly maximum.

– $50 Cashback Bonus for referring a new Discover card member.


Bottom line:

When it comes down to choosing the right card, the seeking process is not as easy as right and wrong. There are huge amount of cards that may be adequate for your needs, but eventually the solution is in your pocket to decide between alternatives.

Visa and MasterCard may have an edge on the debit card market, and their system of accepted sellers is an excessive promoting factor for a plenty of users. On the other hand, Discover and American Express have the history featured with offering extremely good customer privileges and services. You should choose what is ideal for you: customer service, or locations you can utilize the card. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express – who will win the debit card wars and earn an area in your pockets?

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