Prepaid credit cards are fast becoming the preferred payment option for a number of online and offline transactions and the rapid growth and usage of these cards in various sectors such as Money Transfer, Travel Money, Payroll, Online Shopping, Gaming, Youth and Business is already well documented.
In most cases, these cards tend to be branded with MasterCard or Visa scheme badges whilst Maestro seems to be extremely popular in the UK and the question most consumers ask is whether it really matters and why does it matter whether their card is a Maestro, Visa or MasterCard card.
Well the simple answer is, yes it does, and that depends on where and how you intend to use your card.
Attractiveness to Fraudsters and Risk
Global acceptance is probably very important for consumers intending to use their prepaid cards for travel. Furthermore, the chances of a prepaid MasterCard being accepted on gambling, gaming and adult sites is far higher than a Maestro branded card. The flip side is that even in a safe and secure environment, a MasterCard is probably more attractive to fraudsters than a Maestro card. So, maybe a Maestro card is the right one for you, if you are keen on minimising your risk and online shopping or high street usage in the UK is your main requirement.
There are huge differences in card acceptance across the globe, so you need to take great care and ensure the card is right for your needs before making a final purchase decision. If we look at some quick stats on worldwide acceptance, we see
- MasterCard: Over 28 million worldwide acceptance locations
- Visa: Over 12 million worldwide acceptance locations
- Maestro: Over 9 million worldwide acceptance locations
Fully branded Visa or MasterCard travel cards are accepted at millions more merchants around the world. Whilst Maestro and Electron acceptance rates are increasing, there are still many destinations where you would experience difficulties using the card to purchase goods.
Maestro acceptance is continuously improving, and card acceptance is currently around 9 million locations worldwide and at 960,000 locations and internet sites in the UK. Over a 100 countries around the world accept Maestro. But, many do not, so it is important to check acceptance before purchasing a prepaid Maestro card for your holiday money or international money transfer. Maestro prepaid cards can usually be used at International ATMs, wherever you see the Maestro or Cirrus payment mark.
MasterCard is currently accepted around the globe at merchant outlets and ATM machines, where you see the MasterCard (or Maestro/Cirrus) sign. You can use your prepaid MasterCard at more than 28 million locations worldwide.
A Visa prepaid card works like a Visa credit or debit card, with the difference being that each transaction has to be approved and authorised electronically. Your Visa pre paid card is accepted at over 12 million electronic merchant locations worldwide, in over 160 countries. 1 million ATM machines displaying the Visa or PLUS payment mark accept Visa Electron.
Currently, MasterCard offer the best worldwide acceptance and are widely mooted as the most popular scheme badge and hence represent a popular option for prepaid card programme managers looking to deliver programme success. They are also popular with consumers looking for enhanced global acceptance albeit, with a slightly higher element of risk.
Find the right prepaid card for you
Visit out consumer prepaid card comparison section to find the best prepaid card to suit your needs. If you wish to use a prepaid card for your business, visit our business prepaid card section.