Mastercard wasn’t always known by that famous name. When it was founded in 1966 by several bank card associations, it was known as the Interbank Card Association.
It rebranded several times since then, changing its name from “Master Charge: The Interbank Card” to MasterCard International to MasterCard Worldwide, before finally becoming simply Mastercard (stylized as “Mastercard”) in 2016.*
Over the years, the popular card network merged with numerous financial institutions and introduced a range of new services, such as contactless payment programs and mobile wallets.
Mastercard is accepted in over 210 countries in the world, at more than 37 million merchant locations.
Mastercard’s Financial Products
As you already know, you can’t get a credit card directly from Mastercard, because the network doesn’t issue its own cards. It partners with various financial institutions that issue actual cards.
Mastercard offers the following core financial products for individuals and businesses:
- Credit cards
- Debit cards
- Prepaid cards
Types of Cards Offered by Mastercard
This network offers lots of different cards since it has partnered with several financial institutions over the years. However, each of them comes with a different set of features and benefits that you generally look for when picking the right card for your needs.
That said, here are the types of cards you can get at Mastercard:
- Secured credit cards
- Low-interest cards
- 0% APR cards
- No annual fee cards
- No foreign transaction fee cards
- Balance transfers credit cards
- Credit cards for fair credit
- Cashback cards
- Rewards cards
- Gift cards
- Travel & airline cards
- Credit cards for students
- Credit cards for small businesses
All of these cards are offered at the following service levels:
- Standard Mastercard® cards
- World Mastercard® cards
- World Elite Mastercard® cards
Mastercard doesn’t actually set features like APR and cashback, because that’s what card issuers do. But there are certain benefits that the card network offers to every cardholder (zero fraud liability, ID theft protection, cell phone insurance, etc.), and those are determined by its service levels.
Application Requirements at Mastercard
Since Mastercard doesn’t issue its own cards, it doesn’t play a hand in the application and approval process. The card issuer you choose will determine if you are an eligible applicant for a particular card.
Each bank sets its own application requirements, such as age, credit score, income, and more. Once you choose a preferred bank, they will evaluate your application based on their unique requirements. If you meet all the criteria, you’ll get your new card within approximately 5-7 business days.
Mastercard or any other network won’t have anything to do with the approval or denial.
Again, you can’t apply for a card directly at Mastercard. You can visit its official website to find the right card for your needs, but you will be redirected to the bank of your choosing once you click to apply.
If you’re not sure what to choose, you can always contact the network’s customer service, which is available 24/7. They can help you choose the right card for you and answer any questions you may have about their products and services, as well as their financial partners.
To apply for a card at any bank, you need to submit the following information:
- Date of birth
- A current, valid home address
- Phone number
- Social security number
- Employment details
Depending on the bank, you may need to provide additional information such as a bank account, but these are essential details for opening an account.
What Are the Advantages?
This card network has many benefits on different service levels, but the most vital to consider are the following.
Mastercard cards are accepted almost everywhere in the world. You can use it for purchases at more than 37 million merchants in over 210 countries. Not every card network has as wide acceptance rates like this one.
Every card on this network comes with purchase protection, zero fraud liability, and ID theft protection. So, even if your credit card issuer doesn’t offer that kind of security, your identity and finances will still be fully protected by Mastercard.
Regular Benefits and Rewards
As already mentioned, there are different benefits at different service levels, but they’re all very inviting. Some of those include mobile device insurance, travel services, discounts and memberships at various merchants, and more.
There are also global Priceless® programs for unlocking gifts, deals, experiences, and many other exclusive events. There are Priceless® Cities, Priceless® Surprises, Priceless® Specials (not available in the US), and Priceless® Causes.
Are There Any Disadvantages?
There aren’t many disadvantages to using cards on this particular network. Even these few might not be nearly enough to deter you from getting its cards.
Not Every Merchant Accepts Mastercard
You can rarely find a merchant that doesn’t accept cards on this network, but they do exist. Those are mostly small businesses that don’t wish to pay for any of the card network’s services, so they remain cash-only. However, some merchants offer exclusive deals from a single network.
While this isn’t the network’s drawback per se, you might want to consider it if you generally buy from particular merchants that wouldn’t accept your Mastercard payments.
You Have a Limited Number of Card Issuers
Every card network partners with several banks or credit unions, so you’re always limited to certain issuers.
However, this may not be a deal-breaker since, after all, choosing the right issuer is the most crucial factor.
No Extended Warranty Coverage
Mastercard used to offer extended warranties on various products purchased with its cards. However, it removed that perk on July 1, 2019.
Mastercard Customer Service & Contacts
- Toll-Free Phone Numbers – Within the US: 1-800-627-8372
- Toll-Free Phone Numbers – Outside the US (collect call): 1-636-422-7111
- Check all Phone Numbers: Global Service Phone Numbers
- Corporate Office Headquarters: 914-249-2000
2000 Purchase St.,
Purchase, New York 10577
The Bottom Line
Mastercard is a genuinely remarkable card network that offers lots of benefits to its cardholders. Its cards are accepted almost everywhere on the planet, and provide you with ID theft protection and zero fraud liability, among other perks.
However, other card networks are also very good, with almost the same features and benefits. That’s why it’s paramount that you focus on choosing the right card issuer. We recommend exploring those first before comparing different networks so that you can make a smart financial decision.