Visa vs MasterCard vs American Express and Diners Club Credit Cards

By | April 17, 2016

Every now and then i see people asking me which is better – Visa or MasterCard or Amex. Most even don’t know that Diners Club credit cards exists in India. While its bit complicated to say in a single word as to which one is best, it always depends on what you’re looking for from a credit card and where you gonna use it. Apart from that, there are also differences in how these businesses operate.

visa-diners-mastercard-amex

Differences Between Visa/Mastercard  Vs Amex/Diners Cards

  • Visa & Mastercard are merely networks that process the payments and charge a fee for that. Banks pay them for their global network coverage with thousands of ATM’s and merchant terminals. They’re not a bank and they don’t have the money that you hold on the credit/debit card, neither liable for any dispute. They’re kind of middle men processing the payment for the banks and merchants.
  • Whereas American Express & Diners Club Credit cards are issued by American Express / Diners Club themselves. They issue cards and process the payments on their own network. This is why American Express is better at dispute handling and becomes easy for them to save you from any legit issue with merchants.

This is one of the difference why Amex & Diners charges higher transaction fees to the merchants because its their primary source of income. These days, Amex and Diners also affiliated with banks to issue co-branded cards like ICICI Jet Airways Sapphiro Credit Card to increase its number of cards in the market.

Diners Club also has better offers at restaurants across the globe as their name means it all.

Acceptance Levels:

As you might know Visa/Mastercard has the biggest network in the world and Amex/Diners stands nowhere near to it. Even the remote village has Visa/Mastercard Acceptance.

  • Visa / MasterCard : Almost everywhere
  • Amex /Diners Cards: Amex only in metros and major locations. Diners cards acceptance in India is gradually improving with HDFC partnership.

All you need to know is, if you hold Amex or Diners card, you MUST have a backup Visa/Mastercard.

Benefits:

  1. Reward Points: Amex/Diners cards are generous in giving reward points and cashback because they charge higher transaction fee to merchants which in-turn given back to loyal customers. Visa/Mastercard does give you good rewards on higher end variants like Visa Infinite.
  2. Airport Lounge Access: American Express has their own lounges across the world with best in class amenities. Diners has over 600+ affiliated lounges across the world. The higher end cards like Diners Black and Diners Jetairways cards gives you unlimited access to these lounges worldwide. Mastercard Lounge network in India is very good.
  3. Joining Fee/Welcome Bonus: Amex is known for charging hefty annual fees and giving back equivalent or more amount of reward points and welcome bonus. Most visa/MC cards don’t have welcome bonus, except the top variants.
  4. Buyer protection: Amex has the strongest buyer protection as far as i know and almost always favors the customer when there is a dispute. While Visa/Mastercard don’t have that level of buyer protection.
  5. Status Symbol: Only Amex cards serves as a status symbol because its generally given to HNI customers in India with income of 6L & above.

So if you ask which is the best card, you’ll now have the answer and it varies from person to person as it all depends on the parameters above. To me, there is no single best card. You always need couple of cards to give you maximum airmiles, good reward points, lounge access and above all, acceptance.

Which card do you hold and why? Let me know in comments below.

11 thoughts on “Visa vs MasterCard vs American Express and Diners Club Credit Cards

  1. AMIT S

    Hello Mr. Siddharth
    Thanks for all the information.
    Well my Dad is eligible for HDFC Regalia… and today after reading your site i came to know there is option to choose Master or Visa in it…
    So should i request for particular kind of variant in Regalia or will have to wait for what card they select and send me and then request to change it?
    And is there any benefit for Add on Card? Since now HDFC is making it mandatory to apply one Add on card , even though i dont want too…

    And what Variant card is best or to choose in ALL MILES ….
    Just read somewhere that the Reward points in ALL MILES get expired in 2 years, which was not the case in my Platinum card… which has no expiry…
    does the reward point expiry in Regalia too?

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Mastercard variant is good as it has many affiliated lounges than Visa.
      Yes, i believe 2 yrs validity for Regalia points.

      Reply
      1. AMIT S

        Thank you Sir for your reply.

        Well my current Platinum card has lifetime validity for rewards points… which will change on upgrade 🙁

        Is there any benefit for Add on Card? Since now HDFC is making it mandatory to apply one

        Reply
  2. Sandeep s

    Acceptance of diners club card is very minimum. I was given the diners club card by giving fancy term upgradation. Except online transactions and airport lounges, it is not accepted. If HDFC Bank offers this card better not to accept. Worst card.

    Reply
  3. vaibhav

    Diners Cads are now accepted at over 1 million terminals. I recently found that they are accepted at ICICI, HDFC, SBI, Axis and Citi Bank POS machines. They are recognized as ‘Rupay’ in the card type on receipt, but the payment gets done.

    Reply
    1. Sanjeev Agrawal

      Thanks Vaibhav. your comments is the only one which is positive for Diners club card. I am yet to decide on this card. That’s whyyour reply matters a lot. Do you find it as usuful as Master or Visa now?

      Reply
  4. Srinivas

    Even though diners club is very good some times it gets annoying when there are portals which offer cash back on hdfc and diners club is not accepted like Amazon which recently had offer on hdfc card but diners club is not accepted.So if it is your primary hdfc card then think about it but they have very good rewards programlike 10x points in certain online stores which is awesome and yeahthey have the best lounge access facility in India I think it’s the best among all the cards in India for normal customers.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Its good to apply a Visa/Mc for your Partner/dad/mom and keep it for this purpose 😉

      Reply
  5. S Balaji

    I recently applied for a hdfc jet airways co branded card but I got a hdfc diners card. How much acceptance is there in the Indian market especially in petrol station, pharmacy etc.
    Or should I give it back and ask for a visa or master card

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Acceptance is pretty good these days. You may consider holding it. Just have a backup visa/MC always.

      Reply

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