Prepaid 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.
Typically, 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 whether their card is a Maestro, Visa or MasterCard card.
Well the simple answer is, yes it does depending on your usage of these cards.
Risk and attractiveness to Fraudsters
If it is for travel, them maybe global acceptance is very important for you. 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 if you are risk averse and your main usage is for online shopping and or high street usage in the UK, maybe a Maestro card is the right one for you.
There are big differences is 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 selection. 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 960,000 locations and internet sites in the UK, and 9 million locations worldwide. Over 100 countries accept Maestro. But, many do not, so be sure to check acceptance before purchasing a prepaid Maestro card for your holiday money or international money transfer. Maestro prepaid cards can be used at the ATM internationally, 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 exception that each transaction must be electronically authorised. Your Visa pre paid card is accepted at over 12 million electronic merchant locations worldwide, in over 160 countries. Visa Electron is accepted at over 1 million ATM machines displaying the Visa or PLUS payment mark.
Currently, MasterCard not only offer the best global acceptance but also remain the most popular scheme badge for prepaid card programme managers and issuers.