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.


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.


  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.

26 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?

    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.

      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

  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.

  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.

    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?

  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.

    1. Siddharth Post author

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

    2. Vivek Natarajan

      I recently made a purchase of mobile using the Diners club HDFC card and got the offer for the HDFC credit card without any issues.

  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

    1. Siddharth Post author

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

  6. Virendra Singh arya

    I have a platinum edge HDFC BANK VISA CRDIT card . This will be active in USA ad can I add my child of 18 years ad how …. what time will require for activation ad get the card…..

  7. Devendra

    Do you know what all card issuers allows us to disable the cash advance option in credit card or allows us to make cash advance limit zero?
    Pls consider writing a post comparing different card issuers with their pros and cons.

    1. Siddharth Post author

      But why would you want to disable it?

  8. Devendra

    As there are chances that someone might use it at an ATM by mistake and end up paying the huge interest.
    Also, in case someone knows the pin and uses the card on ATM it will be a direct loss whereas if the scammer goes and buys something offline or online we can still approach the issuer to reverse the txn as the settlement is not done immediately.

    1. Siddharth Post author

      You can request bank to make Cash Limit Zero, but bank may or may not do it. HDFC does it as far as i know.

  9. Nihil

    I would like to know which bank is better in terms of credit card features and loan approvals? I do have a ICICI coral debit card account and love the way it operates however, have come across people who would suggest HDFC due to their instant loan approvals and credit card features. Is this true? I have spent a lot of time in quoras and other sites whcih made me confuse.. that’s when i came across yours. please help out. And please suggest a credit card scheme too.. (like coral/ platinum)

  10. Vijayan


    I am using HDFC Bank credit card for last 10 years. Using regalia card for the last 4 years without any offer of card upgradation. Never had payment default history.

    While approaching the RM for card upgradation, they always says that upgradation is dully done credit card division which work on set parameters only.

    Any idea how to get infinia ?

    1. Vikram Pandit

      You need to have a gross income of 3L/month.

      Better try for Dinersclub. Variants are better and 10X deals are a bonus esp on Amazon. I have been using Dinersclub Black for over 3 years now.

  11. Ravish

    Hi sir,

    I have diners club millinnia card last 1 yeas ,can I access airport visa or master lounges anywhere in India

  12. Real Techhie

    I got HDFC MILLENNIA DINERS CARD but I found cred not able to pay diners card payment bn as well some errors in diners..

    I reached HDFC,they assured me to change my franchise from diners to mastercard/visa with sane card.
    Which should I opt.??

  13. Amitabh Maheshwari

    I have been offered Amex platinum. I want to hold both HDFC diners black and Amex platinum charge card. I may not get full benefits out of them but holding these two super premium cards gives me a sense of security and status both. As far as annual fee is concerned I will assume I earn less to that extent.

  14. RKS

    Hey Sid, Maybe an update is due on this article seeing that RBI is pushing for norms to give users the right to choose the card issuer. Would be well appreciated.


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