What you need to know about Mastercard credit cards
Whether you’re after a balance transfer card to blast debt or a plastic that will reward you for your purchases there is a Mastercard credit card out there for you. But with so many options on the market, comparing credit cards can get a little tricky. Fortunately, we have put together this list of FAQs to help you choose the perfect Mastercard credit card.
What is Mastercard?
First thing’s first, Mastercard does not issue credit cards, banks do. Mastercard is the payments processing company some Australian banks partner with to enable you to shop, dine and pay for experiences almost anywhere in the world with a credit or debit card. What this means for you as a credit card customer is that a lot of the features - purchase rates, interest free periods or annual fees - on the credit cards you see above aren’t actually set by Mastercard but the bank or credit provider you choose to bank with.
What are the benefits of choosing a Mastercard credit card?
Mastercard might not set the fees or rates on your credit card but it still brings a lot to the table when it teams up with a bank, like a world-class security system and exclusive perks programs. The key benefits include:
Protection against credit card fraud
Credit card fraud might be one of your biggest fears, but you can enjoy some serious peace of mind thanks to Mastercard’s Zero Liability Protection promise. This ensures that you won’t be held accountable for any unauthorised transactions made in person, over the phone, online or at an ATM so long as you’ve been careful with your card details and have reported it stolen or lost to your bank or financial institution in a timely manner.
The days of having a credit card simply to power your purchases are over. Nowadays, you can get access to deals on a whole range of social activities and events via the Mastercard Priceless Cities program. Whether it be a fine dining experience, cheap tickets to the must-see game in town or a free hotel upgrade, this program allows you to get the most of your experience in cities around the world.
Some credit card providers like Bankwest or HSBC even go that little bit further and also offer a World Mastercard which has even more exclusive deals on dining, golf and travel experiences all around the world. These cards are generally tailored to the frequent traveller and premium card holder which means that will usually have larger annual fees than standard Mastercards.
Innovative payment tech
When it comes to making payments, as a Mastercard credit card holder you can be assured that your transactions will be backed by cutting edge technology. Every Mastercard issued now comes with the popular PayPass chip allowing you to make contactless payments of less than $100. If you are a fitness aficionados, thanks to the Fitbit Pay partnership Mastercard users have the option to pay using their Fitbit Ionic device.
Global access to your money
Mastercard is accepted by merchants in more than 200 countries around the world and at more than one million ATMs, so whether you’re using your credit card on a daily basis at home or on overseas travel trips - you’ll be able to make purchases almost anywhere at anytime. Just keep in mind that some card issuers (aka banks or credit institutions) may impose fees like a cash advance or overseas purchase fee when using your Mastercard credit card.
How do I compare Mastercard credit cards?
When opting for a Mastercard credit card, it is still important to consider the individual bank-issued credit card features on offer. Some of the things you should be keeping an eye out for include:
Some cards come with introductory offers, whether it be a bonus points offer for your rewards card or an extended 0% interest free period on your balance transfer credit card. While these are great headline features, remember to dig that little bit deeper to find out the range of rates and fees that also come with the card.
Complimentary insurances are one of the greatest perks of a credit card, and come in a few different shapes and sizes. These include:
Overseas travel insurance: Some Mastercards come with in-built travel insurance which can take the hassle out of your overseas adventures. Just bear in mind that, to activate the complimentary travel insurance, some card providers require you to pay part of your travel expenses on the card and have a return ticket.
Purchase protection insurance: If you like to use your Mastercard for big-ticket purchases, choosing a card with purchase protection insurance could be just what the doctor ordered. This works by protecting new purchases, whether it be a fresh set of headphones or a brand new television, for a set amount of days (usually around 90) against theft or accidental damage.
Extended warranty: You can also nab an even longer warranty period on your precious purchases with some cards. Just make sure the purchases you want to have protected were actually made on your credit card.
Price protection insurance: There is nothing more frustrating than making a purchase, only to realise the product price has been slashed just days later and that’s where price protection insurance kicks in. With some Mastercard branded cards, you’ll have the difference in price refunded to your account so long as you used that specific credit card.
Interest free days
Interest free days are the amount of time you will pay no interest on your purchases, which is usually 44 or 55 days and starts at the beginning of your statement period and ends on your credit card due date. But if you fail to pay off your balance in full by the due date, you will no longer receive those interest free days for your next statement period, instead you’ve actually got to get your balance back to zero before you can start to enjoy these again.
There are a few fees to consider when choosing a Mastercard credit card, too.
Annual fees: Some credit cards come with an annual fee. They’re usually more expensive for premium options like rewards credit cards, however.
Surcharge fees: Whether you’re filling up at the bowser or grabbing groceries from the local supermarket, the chances are you’ve been hit with a credit card surcharge. While merchant service fees for Mastercard or Visa aren’t so pricey, if you opt for an American Express card the chances are you’re going to have some of the more expensive merchant service fees passed on in the form of a surcharge.
Cash advance fees: All credit cards will come with a cash withdrawal fee but you will also incur a high cash advance rate that can soar over 20%. And unlike purchases, interest free periods don't apply for cash advances, so you’ll start accruing interest from day dot.
Overseas fees: Even though your Mastercard credit card will give you access to your cash and allow you to make purchases overseas there could still be fees. Most banks will slap foreign currency conversion fee on your transactions abroad, not to mention charging you at costly foreign exchange rates.
Some credit cards come with a few extras that may make them more valuable to you than others. This could include things like flight vouchers, exclusive lounge access or even a personal concierge service.
How is Mastercard different to Visa and American Express?
Mastercard, Visa and American Express are all payment processing companies and so you’ll find a lot of their logos sprawled across bank issued credit and even debit cards on our site.
While there are some small differences between Visa and Mastercard, usually to do with the program perks they offer, they’re actually quite similar and the good news is that most merchants who accept one set of credit cards also usually accept the other too.
American Express is known for its customer rewards programs and generally because it has higher merchant fees isn’t as widely accepted around the world. But in terms of how the card processing works, AMEX works in the same way as Visa and Mastercard.
If you are weighing up your options between the three, it is probably more important for you to think about the individual card features like interest rates and annual fees rather than the card processing network because these are the things that are going to impact you financially.
Who offers Mastercard credit cards?
A range of credit providers, both large and small, currently offer Mastercard-powered credit cards to Australians including Bankwest, ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, Bank of Australia, Coles and Heritage Bank. You can view a more complete range of products and providers in the Mastercard credit card comparison table above or to compare Mastercards with other credit cards in the market try our credit card search tool to get a personalised search result with suggestions based on your spending needs.