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Online Card Services


Visa, Mastercard® and American Express®

What are Visa, Mastercard® and American Express®?

What are Visa, Mastercard® and American Express®? image

Not many people know the difference between the three major payment systems in the credit card industry. Compare credit cards with different payment systems may help you decide on the right credit card for you.  American Express®, or AMEX as it is more often known in Europe, Visa and MasterCard® all run payment systems. Lenders like MBNA use these payment systems in order to facilitate the ability to make purchases using credit cards. When you enter into a credit agreement or pay your credit card bill it is your credit card issuer, MBNA, that provides these services rather than Visa or MasterCard®. Visa or MasterCard® do not issue credit cards directly to consumers. As well as running a payment system, American Express® is also a lender issuing credit cards that use the American Express® payment system.

Credit card tip

Explore all the added extras when choosing a credit card—there’s a wide range of options available including fraud protection, reward programs and even charitable contributions.

Explanation of differences

There is very little difference between the Visa and MasterCard® payment systems. They are both widely accepted in over 20 million cash machines and 150 countries worldwide and it is rare to find a location that will accept one and not the other. Visa and MasterCard® have special offers with selected partners which you can take advantage of if you have a credit card with the appropriate symbol. You can compare the range of credit cards offered by MBNA.

American Express®, or AMEX has much more marked differences compared to Visa and MasterCard®. Like Visa and MasterCard® it is a payment system but they also issue and operate cards directly to consumers. MBNA partners with American Express® to offer a number of credit cards that use the American Express® payment system.

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