How Visa, MasterCard, RuPay & American Express Credit Cards differ?

Updated on: 14 Dec 2021 // 26 min read // Credit Cards
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Whether you are a new plastic user or an advanced one, it is quite likely that you have both VISA as well as MasterCard Credit Card and Debit Card in your wallet. Likewise, it is also possible that you were asked about your preference for VISA or MasterCard, while the card marketing personal was helping you choose the Best Credit Card pick for your needs.

Different cards are affiliated with different payment networks. Presently, there are 4 prominent payment networks in India, i.e., RuPay, MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. The Indian market was previously dominated by Visa and MasterCard while the American Express always remained a niche product, meant exclusively for American Express customers

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However, ever since the Indian Government introduced the RuPay network, the market has undergone a tectonic shift, with RuPay emerging as one of the key players. With which payment network your Credit Card is connected, depends on the Credit Card company and the type of card you possess.

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But how do these four payment networks differ?

All these four payment networks vary quite a lot in terms of their features. So, you need to understand the basic differences between RuPay, MasterCard, Visa, and American Express before you apply for a Credit Card again. This will help you maximize the benefits on offer and ensure optimum utilization according to your needs.

  • Country of Origin: RuPay is an Indian payment network which has been promoted by the government of India. It covers all leading public sector banks, private sector banks, co-operative banks, regional rural banks, and most banking institutions in India. MasterCard and Visa are both American payment networks that are associated with leading private sector and public sector banks in India. American Express is another American payment network, but it supports Credit Cards issued by American Express Bank. Other than RuPay, none of the three alternative payment networks offer services for small banks in India.
  • Acceptance: RuPay Credit Cards are accepted primarily in India only as it is a domestic payment network. The government authorities like NPCI are working hard to collaborate with other international financial networks like JCB to expand the reach of RuPay Credit Cards to other countries as well. Visa and MasterCard Credit Cards are accepted across a large number of countries and can be readily used to complete transactions in foreign currencies. All POS machines accept Visa and MasterCard Credit Cards readily. While American Express Credit Cards are also accepted worldwide and can be used to complete transactions in foreign currency, their acceptability is somewhat limited due to exclusive POS machines required to process American Express Credit Cards. 
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  • Transaction processing: All transactions through RuPay Credit Cards are completed within India; thus, the processing time is reduced significantly, ensuring convenience and comfort for the users. In the case of MasterCard, Visa, and American Express, the transactions are settled through company servers that are mostly located outside India. As a result, the data is to be sent to the company servers for verification and processing, which results in a delay in the processing time. Though an authorization for the same is issued immediately in 1 second, the transfer the money can take up 48 hours.
  • Operating Cost: RuPay Credit Cards support transactions within India only and have their servers also located within India, the operating cost of these cards is lower. As a result, banks and merchants need to pay a lower service charge for these transactions as compared to other payment networks. Though in the case of MasterCard, Visa, and American Express Credit Cards, overseas transactions in foreign currencies are also supported, and the servers are located outside India in the home country of the USA. As a result, merchants and banks need to pay higher service charges for the services, resulting in customers paying higher charges for the transactions. 
  • Maintenance charges: RuPay network is promoted by the NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India), and the banks need not pay any charges to join the network. This allows the banks to offer RuPay Credit Cards to customers with nil or minimal charges. But this is not the case with the other three payment networks. Banks need to pay a certain fee every quarter to the respective payment network for joining the network. This results in increased costs for the banks, which is subsequently passed on to the customers.
  • Security: RuPay Credit Cards are considered much more secure as compared to MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. As the operation of RuPay Credit Cards is limited to India, the data is shared between Indian payment gateways only. This restricts the access of hackers present on other payment networks to access your confidential financial information. But in the case of MasterCard, Visa, and American Express, the processing of data is completed outside India, i.e., at an International location. This leaves the data vulnerable to hacking and phishing attacks as international hackers can access the information and use it against you.
  • Features: When it comes to additional features, RuPay Credit Cards are quickly catching up with the other three payment networks. Customers can now access features like free Airport Lounge access, free Travel Insurance, free Life Insurance, Concierge Services, cashbacks, discounts, etc. with RuPay Credit Cards. But on these aspects, Visa and MasterCard Credit Cards are way ahead with some really exciting benefits on offer. American Express Credit Cards are found lacking here with limited acceptability and benefits within India. As a matter of fact, American Express Credit Cards are restricted to metropolitan and many major urban centres in India only.

At present, the Indian as well as International Credit Card market is dominated by Visa and Master Card. But with the government as well as leading financial institutions of India now shifting to RuPay Credit Cards, it is expected that the scenario will change in the coming years. American Express Credit Cards will continue to have a niche market in India as they are primarily targeted at High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs).

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