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What’s the difference between MasterCard, Visa and Maestro prepaid cards?

Published: 25 October 2011
All three available prepaid cards offer guaranteed acceptance, regardless of a consumer’s credit history, so does it really make a difference which card you choose?

The simple answer is yes it most likely will matter, particularly if you wish to use your prepaid card for high street spending and even online purchases in the UK and beyond.

There is in fact a significant difference in the number of locations that accept MasterCard, Visa and Maestro cards across the globe. Let’s first look at the figures of the popular prepaid cards most widely accepted at locations around the world today:

MasterCard – 24.6 million
Visa Electron – 12 million
Maestro – 7 million


Prepaid MasterCards are currently the most popular cards for use at merchant outlets and ATM machines across the globe. A MasterCard can be used wherever an establishment displays the MasterCard or Maestro/Cirrus sign and at present that amounts to around 25 million separate locations worldwide.

Visa Electron

A Visa Electron prepaid card can be used in much the same fashion as a Visa credit or debit card, however each individual transaction requires electronic authorisation. At the time of writing a prepaid Visa Electron card is said to be accepted at over 12 million electronic merchant locations in the world, providing only half the coverage of MasterCard. Visa Electron cards can only be used at ATM’s displaying the Visa or PLUS payment sign.


At present Maestro prepaid cards provide the smallest global coverage of the three card providers mentioned. Card acceptance is at around one million locations and websites within the UK and up to seven million locations worldwide. Although over 100 countries accept Maestro transactions in-store and online many still reject it as a form of payment. Therefore if you are planning on using a Maestro prepaid card on holiday you should check to ensure your destination accepts Maestro before loading your funds.

As our very own cashback debit card offering is under the MasterCard umbrella, we are delighted our users have unrivalled access to merchant outlets and ATM machines in all four corners of the globe.
Categories: Credit Cards, Savings & Banking, Loans & Debt, Shopping, Finance, Prepaid Cards, Prepaid Mastercard

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