MasterCard Credit Cards

MasterCard credit cards are used worldwide and counted on by millions. Read this MasterCard review and history and then use the free credit card “chaser” to find and compare all of the best credit card offers from many different companies.

History of MasterCard

MasterCard Credit Cards began as Interbank Card Association (ICA) in 1966. Founded by a group of banks as a member-owned association, MasterCard Credit Cards brought consistency to the relatively new world of credit cards, opening up a wider payment network. By 1968, ICA started to fulfill its global commerce vision by expanding into Mexico, Japan, and Europe. One year later, it changed its name to Master Charge and retained that name for a decade until MasterCard was born.

MasterCard credit cards quickly became a leading franchisor of global commerce payments and in 2002 it merged with Europay, International and became MasterCard International. Once it started trading on the New York Stock Exchange in 2006 under the ticker symbol, MA, it introduced its new corporate name, MasterCard Worldwide. Headquartered in Purchase, New York, MasterCard has numerous locations throughout the world.

As MasterCard expanded, so did its technologies. After introducing the magnetic stripe as a standard feature on all of its cards in 1974, it was the first in the industry to introduce the hologram as a security device only eight years later. In 1991, partnered with Europay, International, it launched a global online debit program called Maestro®. In 2002, PayPass completed its trial run with Chase, Citibank, and MBNA in Orlando, Florida and by 2005 it had become encompassed by numerous institutions and earned two technology “Breakthrough” awards from Card Technology magazine.

How MasterCard Works

MasterCard works with a four party payment system. A bank markets and issues a MasterCard® card to a consumer. The consumer, known as a cardholder, uses the card at more than 23 million locations worldwide. A participating merchant accepts the card in exchange for its goods or services. And finally, an acquiring bank enrolls the merchant into programs that accept MasterCard, Maestro®, and Cirrus-branded cards. MasterCard acquired the Cirrus® ATM network in 1988. This four party payment system is why MasterCard is successful globally, offering purchasing power to consumers and business retention and growth to merchants.

Choosing A Card

Credit cards are lines of credit with various short-term repayment options. Basically, the issuing bank extends a line of credit to you and pays the merchant for your purchases with the agreement that you will pay them back in the agreed amount of time for the agreed rate. The merchant in turn pays the bank a percentage fee for the provided service of “instant payment”. The consumer pays a finance charge for installment payments and may also have other fees associated with the account, such as late payments or over extending the credit limit.

Debit Cards are linked directly to a consumer’s bank account, whether it is a checking, savings, or brokerage account. In addition to purchasing goods or services with it, you can also get instant access to cash from ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines). Although there is a fee for using some ATMs, there is usually no transaction fee to the consumer for using the debit card to make a purchase. The debit card is similar to writing a check without the hassle of actually having to write the check and get check approval. As with a credit card, your debit card will be approved or declined instantaneously. Be aware that standard bank fees may apply to your debit card, such as over withdrawing funds from your checking account.

Prepaid cards are cards with a pre-set amount of money stored, or loaded, onto the card. The concept of prepaid cards is becoming popular with employers for employee benefits such as HSAs (Health Savings Accounts) as well as purchased as gift cards. Single purpose prepaid cards, also known as closed-loop cards, are store-brand specific cards or prepaid phone cards. Multipurpose, or open-loop cards, are branded with the bank’s logo and can be used anywhere where that bank card is accepted.

For example, if you receive a MasterCard® prepaid card as a gift, valued at $25, you can use that card anywhere where MasterCard is accepted, whether it be at an ATM to access cash or at a store to make a purchase. You do not have to use the card in full at one time, as you will have a remaining balance from which to draw against. Once the funds are used, the card will be declined until further money is reloaded onto it. Some cards are not refillable and become disposable once the money has been used. The fees associated with a prepaid card are usually upfront at the time the card is purchased and or loaded with money.

Types of Credit Cards Offered by MasterCard

MasterCard offers various credit cards with low introductory rates, low ongoing rates, rewards, cash backs, and student cards. Standard cards are available for people who are just starting out or establishing their credit. Gold and Platinum level cards are offered to those who are looking for various spending options and benefits. For people who want flexibility, rewards, and prestige the World and World Elite cards may be the right choice.

Standard cards are accepted worldwide and, although some restrictions apply, they come with zero liability. This means you are not responsible for fraudulent charges made to your card. You also receive the MasterCard Global Service™ included as a feature on your card, which gives you emergency services anytime, anywhere, in the event that your card is lost or stolen. You are eligible for emergency card replacement, emergency cash advance, and ATM location information.

In addition to MasterCard Global Service™ as defined above, The Gold MasterCards® and Platinum MasterCards® include features for rent and repair, shopping and groceries, and travel packages. For example, at no additional charge you receive Master Rental Insurance when renting with your MasterCard®. This would include rental insurance, extended warranty, Master RoadAssist®, and even a travel assistant. Hotel and motel burglary coverage, purchase assurance, and lost or damaged luggage are some additional features of these cards.

The World card has no pre-set spending limit and offers a Year End Account Summary. Benefits include price protection, extended warranty, a rewards program, and the MasterCard Global Service ™ as described under Standard cards above. Excellent for travelers, you also receive various worldwide insurance protections such as travel accident and trip interruption. Car rental insurance is included as well as a waiver for collision damage.

In the event you face identity theft, MasterCard offers resolution assistance at no additional cost to you. In addition to purchase assurance, by carrying the World Elite card your benefits include the luxuries of a travel consultant as well as various concierge services and access to airport lounges. Both the World card and the World Elite card include the MasterCard Unique Experience™.

What is the MasterCard Unique Experience™?

The MasterCard Unique Experience™ caters to travelers, business class, and the elite who are given access to MasterCard’s exclusive on-line reservation system. Restrictions include that all MasterCard Unique Experiences™ be charged to the MasterCard® World or World Elite MasterCard® credit cards.

For culinary treats, members are able to book private dining luxuries, fine dining reservations, dine at the chef’s table, experience gourmet cooking with personal guidance from a chef either at a restaurant or in your home, or simply enjoy culinary walking tours. Prices vary by package.

For entertainment and culture, cardholders are given access to purchase preferred tickets for popular performances and also get access to Soundstage, which includes backstage passes to meet the artists as well as one night hotel stays.

Lifestyle adventures include anything from numerous golf packages, spa and wellness getaways, and high end athletic clubs, to reserving deluxe office and meeting rooms. You can further the adventure with a personal shopper or a private fighter pilot experience. Whatever your lifestyle, there is a unique experience waiting for you.

Compare MasterCard Credit Card Offers

Whether your lifestyle is one of worldwide travel or you are applying for your very first credit card, there is a card that matches your way of life. Take advantage of the free credit card chaser on this page. By inputting basic information once, you’ll be able to compare credit cards from MasterCard, Visa, American Express and more to find the one that will best meet your needs. Take control of your credit situation by using the credit card chaser right now!

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Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or any other credit card company or issuer. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any credit card company or issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any credit card company or issuer. Credit Card Chaser may be compensated through various affiliate programs with advertisers. As always, Credit Card Chaser is an independent website commmitted to helping people research credit card offers and find the best credit card!