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Last updated
February 8th, 2024

What is a Mastercard card?

A Mastercard credit card is one that uses the Mastercard network for processing transactions. Mastercard does not issue credit cards, and as a credit card holder, you’re unlikely to ever interact with Mastercard directly.

Your credit card is issued by a bank or provider that also sends you your monthly statement, takes your bill payments, charges you fees and interest and handles any questions you have.

The only parties that work with Mastercard are the retailer you're purchasing from and the bank or provider that issued your credit card. Mastercard will usually charge the retailer a percentage of the purchase price for processing the transaction.

No. of Mastercard cards in circulation globally[1]
974m

Who does Mastercard work with?

Mastercard works with a number of banks and credit card providers, including those listed here.

  • Santander

  • Halifax

  • NatWest

  • Amazon

  • MBNA

  • Capital One

  • Sainsbury’s Bank

  • Post Office 

  • TSB

  • Virgin Money

  • Aqua

There are three network providers in the UK: Mastercard, Visa and American Express. You can find out which network your credit card uses by checking the logo on the bottom right corner of your credit card.

Why get a Mastercard credit card?

Accepted worldwide

Mastercard credit cards can be used almost anywhere across the globe that accepts card payments. Just look for the Mastercard logo.

Identity Check™

Like Visa’s Verified by Visa, Mastercard has its own security protection called Identity Check. This uses advanced technology to verify that it’s you who is making your purchases. If there is any uncertainty, you may be asked to authenticate your identity via a one-time passcode or biometrics. It's easy and gives you the peace of mind that you're always protected.

Unique and exclusive offers

Unlike with Visa, Mastercard cardholders will get access to a range of exclusive experiences through Priceless.com. This means you can enjoy offers from popular brands and services, including theatre trips, hotel stays and personal shopping experiences. Plus you’ll get instant upgrades at certain events simply for being a Mastercard cardholder.

Priceless causes

Having a Mastercard can also make it easier to donate to causes that are important to you. The Priceless Planet Coalition, for example, is working towards restoring 100 million trees by 2025.

Zero Liability Protection

When you use your Mastercard, you're protected against fraud. With Mastercard, you can rest assured that your card provider won't hold you responsible for unauthorised transactions.

Zero Liability applies to ATM transactions and purchases made in the store, over the telephone, online or via a mobile device.

Note that Visa also offers a zero liability policy - read our guide to Visa credit cards to find out how the above benefits compare to those of Visa’s.

What type of Mastercard credit card is right for you?

Cards for spending

Cards with rewards

Cards for paying off debt

Cards for bad credit or first-time borrowers

Our featured Mastercard deals

Our editors have picked out some of our best Mastercard deals.

Editor’s pick
Our chosen purchase credit card

Earn M&S vouchers every time you shop and you'll get 0% for 26 months with a 3.49% fee (£5 min.) and 0% for 3 months on purchases. You can also add an additional cardholder over the age of 18 to your account, so you can both enjoy the benefits.

Author image
savings expert
Card
M&S Bank Transfer Plus Credit Card
Balance transfer term
0% for 26 months with a 3.49% fee (£5 min.)
Rep APR
24.9% APR

Representative example: The standard interest rate on purchases is 24.9% p.a. (variable), so if you borrow £1,200 the Representative APR will be 24.9% (variable).

Show Details
Eligibility
Minimum Age
18 years
Editor’s pick
Our chosen purchase credit card
Card
M&S Bank Transfer Plus Credit Card
Balance transfer term
0% for 26 months with a 3.49% fee (£5 min.)
Rep APR
24.9% APR

Representative example: The standard interest rate on purchases is 24.9% p.a. (variable), so if you borrow £1,200 the Representative APR will be 24.9% (variable).

Show Details
Eligibility
Minimum Age
18 years

Earn M&S vouchers every time you shop and you'll get 0% for 26 months with a 3.49% fee (£5 min.) and 0% for 3 months on purchases. You can also add an additional cardholder over the age of 18 to your account, so you can both enjoy the benefits.

Author image
savings expert

We are classed as a credit broker for consumer credit, not a lender.

How our eligibility checker works

Our eligibility checker matches you with the credit cards you're likely to get based on your finances. If you're looking for a Mastercard card, it'll match you with the cards you have the best chance of being accepted for.

It uses a “soft search” credit check, so your credit score will not be affected. This is why it's a good idea for most people to use ab eligibility checker. You only apply for the cards you can get, so you’ll significantly reduce the chance of a rejected application.

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Find a Mastercard credit card in minutes

We've partnered with Uswitch to help you find a great deal. Start your eligibility journey now
eligibility-animation
1
Answer a few basic questions about your circumstances
2
We'll show you the cards you’re likely to get, so you can apply with confidence
3
Your credit score will always be protected

FAQs

How is a Mastercard credit card different to a debit card?

Debit cards are linked to your bank account and use your balance to pay for things; credit card spending lets you borrow money and pay it back later.

Which is best Mastercard or Visa?

It’s difficult for consumers to say whether Mastercard or Visa is best because they both offer very similar services. When choosing a credit card it’s much more important to think about interest rates and whether to get a spending or balance transfer card, than whether it’s Mastercard or Visa.

Where can I use a Mastercard?

You can use a Mastercard card in person (in shops, restaurants or other businesses), online, by phone, by mail order, in other countries or at ATMs. Look out for the Mastercard logo.

Are my Mastercard purchases protected?

Yes, credit card providers each offer their own protection services as well as Section 75 and the Chargeback scheme.

What charges will I pay on a Mastercard?

Credit cards come with a range of charges, including interest and late payment fees. But these are set by your credit card company, not Mastercard, and you can usually avoid them if you understand how they work.

Can I get a joint Mastercard?

No, credit cards are held and paid off by one person, but adding a supplementary cardholder gives them a card in their name that is linked to your account.

How long does it take to apply for a Mastercard?

If you apply online, it should take about 10 minutes and you usually get an instant decision. Applying by post or in a branch can take up to 10 days.

Get more insight about credit cards

Find out more about different types of credits, how to get them or the best ways to make the most out of them
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About the author

Salman Haqqi
Salman Haqqi spent over a decade as a journalist reporting in several countries around the world. Now as a personal finance expert, he helps people make informed financial decisions.

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References

1. Credit card facts and statistics money.co.uk's 2023 report on credit card usage