Comparing Visa Signature and World Elite Mastercard benefits
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest card issuer information.
Are you looking to get a new rewards credit card? You may be evaluating things such as cash-back bonuses, overall points and how you can spend those points or miles. But as you consider the benefit and rewards offered by the card itself or its partners, don’t forget to look at the benefits offered by the card’s payment network.
Visa and Mastercard, two of the largest and most widely accepted credit card payment networks in the U.S., both have their own benefits programs available on select rewards cards.
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Cards in the Visa Signature line, including Chase Sapphire Preferred® and Capital One® VentureOne ® Rewards Credit Card, present tremendous benefits to users. These benefits include online discounts when you shop with Visa’s growing network of partners, enhanced travel benefits and purchase protection. Likewise, the World Elite Mastercard line, including cards such as the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card and Citi Premier℠ Card, also offers expanded benefits you don’t find with cards in other payment networks.
The information for the Citi Premier and the Capital One Savor cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related reading: The best credit cards for price protection in 2020
To see if you’re carrying a World Elite Mastercard or Visa Signature card, first find the payment network logo – typically located on the bottom right of the card. Then look for the word “Signature” under the Visa logo or the words “World Elite” above the Mastercard logo.
If you own one of these cards, read on to discover benefits you may not have realized you had. And if you’re shopping around for a new card, definitely consider one of these premium rewards cards from Mastercard or Visa.
Now, let’s see which of these programs may fit your lifestyle best.
Both Visa and Mastercard partner with brands that translate into perks and savings for cardholders. Some of the new offerings on the World Elite cards are especially enticing right now, when you probably aren’t maximizing the value of your travel rewards cards through trips.
Pay with your World Elite Mastercard and get 5% back on Boxed orders, $5 off Postmates orders of $25 or more before taxes and fees and a free Shoprunner membership. Shoprunner gives members access to free 2-day shipping and free return shipping for more than 100 online retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, 1-800-FLOWERS, Kate Spade, Brooks Brothers and many more. These money-saving perks are especially powerful right now, when you may not be able to use your travel rewards cards to their maximum benefit.
When we all get back on the road again, your World Elite Mastercard will also hold its value, delivering a monthly $10 Lyft credit when you take five rides plus discounts on Fandango movie tickets.
The Visa Signature website also offers dozens of money-saving deals you can take advantage of from the safety of your home. Save 10 to 25 percent or more at many online retailers, from Target.com to Shari’s Berries. If you’ve been doing a lot of online shopping during the pandemic, your Visa Signature card will deliver tons of savings you can put toward your next trip – or whatever you’d like.
Winner: If you’re ordering food to be delivered or buying virtually anything online, the World Elite program offers discounts that may be difficult to find anywhere else.
Related reading: The best credit cards for groceries in 2020
Purchase Protection and Card Security
Visa and Mastercard both take security and fraud protection seriously. For that reason, their Signature and World Elite cards carry fraud protection, emergency card replacement and other features that may go above and beyond cards outside of these programs. Let’s compare their offerings.
Traditional Visa cards offer many protections, including:
- Zero liability for fraudulent charges
- Emergency card replacement and cash disbursement
- Easy lost or stolen card reporting
Visa Signature cards offer these additional benefits:
Extended warranty – The extended warranty doubles the term of your eligible U.S. manufacturer’s warranty up to 1 additional year.
Year-end summary – Get a detailed annual report of all your spending on your Visa Signature card, broken down by category. This feature can help you budget and also choose the best rewards credit cards by helping you track where you spend the most.
Some of the cards in the Visa Signature line also provide:
- Cell phone protection
- Emergency medical and dental coverage
- Price protection
- Return protection
- Emergency evacuation
- Purchase protection
Related reading: Credit cards that cover cellphone loss and damage
Like traditional Visa cards, most Mastercard products offer many benefits, including:
- Zero liability fraud protection
- Identity theft protection
Related reading: 5 steps to take when your personal information is compromised
The World Elite program goes beyond regular Mastercard benefits to offer:
Enhanced identity theft protection – Get monitoring, alerts and expert guidance 24/7/365
Cell phone protection – It’s getting harder to find cards that provide cell phone protection. Select Visa Signature cards and all World Elite Mastercards reimburse you for damage or theft to your mobile phone if you pay the monthly bill with the credit card. Some other Mastercard offerings also provide this coveted benefit.
Winner: The cell phone protection plan on all World Elite Mastercards puts the program slightly ahead, although it’s important to look at the benefits on the specific Visa Signature card you are considering, because some offer more than others.
For frequent travelers, both programs shine with multiple perks. But Visa Signature eclipses the World Elite Mastercard in travel protection services.
Protections offered to all cards within the Visa Signature program include:
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- Roadside dispatch
- Travel and emergency services
- Emergency cash disbursement
Visa also offers the following benefits on a select number of cards within the Visa Signature program:
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Hotel theft protection
- Trip delay reimbursement
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
- Travel accident insurance
- Baggage delay coverage
Baggage delay and lost luggage reimbursement coverage can protect you if something goes wrong when you check your luggage.
Mastercard recently removed many of the travel protections that consumers previously relied on, including travel insurance. It advertises nothing of note that would make the World Elite program stand out in terms of travel coverage.
Winner: If you’re looking to protect your travel arrangements in the uncertainty of a post-pandemic era, the Visa Signature card will be your better investment, as the program so far is maintaining its travel protection services.
Although not important right now, the one-of-a-kind experiences and access to special events are key reasons that frequent travelers covet the cards in these programs. From private jets to free hotel stays, someday you’ll be able to enjoy these perks again.
The World Elite Mastercard program has paused the availability of its “Priceless Experiences” through mid-April, citing the health and well-being of cardmembers, as well as of the employees and partners who work at the experiences.
The Priceless Experiences are one of the key attractions to holding a World Elite Mastercard. If you’re considering one of these cards right now, understand you won’t be able to dig into the juicier benefits until the danger of the coronavirus outbreak has passed and cities have opened up again.
Related reading: Unlock VIP event access with your credit cards
Likewise, places like wineries and golf courses listed as Visa Signature perks are largely closed across the U.S. If you’re choosing a card based on its travel benefits, you’ll be waiting to use them with either program.
Top Visa Signature cards
Although this is not an exhaustive list, here are some of the top cards that fall under the Visa Signature program:
This card features 2x points on all travel and dining purchases, including takeout meals, and an impressive 80,000-point welcome bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. You’ll earn points in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program, which can be transferred to points or miles with airline and hotel partners or redeemed for travel directly through Chase. You can also choose gift cards or cash back through the Chase portal, although you’ll get a better return if you hang onto your points to use for travel. There is a $95 annual fee for this card.
Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
This card offers 2x miles on all purchases, which you can redeem as a statement credit for travel or by transferring to one of Capital One’s transfer partners. You always have the option of redeeming your points as a statement credit on travel purchases at a rate of one cent apiece. The straightforward points system, no categories to remember and option to redeem points for a statement credit makes Venture a great first rewards card. The card also offers a bonus of 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $20,000 on purchases within the first 12 months from account opening. Or still earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. There is a $95 annual fee and you’ll get perks such as a statement credit of up to $100 for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment fee.
Read our full review of the Capital One Venture card.
Cardholders earn 3x miles from Alaska Airlines purchases, and 1x mile per dollar elsewhere, along with a companion fare from $121 ($99 fare, plus taxes and fees from $22). Alaska miles are especially valuable because of their many partner airlines. There is a $75 annual fee for the Visa Signature version of this card.
Read our full review of the Alaska Airlines Visa.
Top World Elite Mastercards
There are too many cards that are part of this program to list them all, but here are a few of the best for travelers:
The Capital One Savor is one of my favorite cash-back credit cards. You’ll earn 4% on all dining and entertainment purchases, two broadly defined categories, and 2% back at grocery stores. The card charges a $95 annual fee and comes with a $300 cash-back bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Read our full review of the Capital One Savor card.
The information for the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Citi Premier is a mid-tier card that offers the benefits of Mastercard’s tremendous World Elite program plus a host of other advantages and rewards. You’ll earn 3X points on travel, including purchases at most gas stations. You’ll get 2X points on dining out and entertainment, which includes a broad range of attractions like concerts, plays, museums and amusement parks. Right now, get a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening.
Read our full review of the Citi Premier.
The information for the Citi Premier has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
When it comes to Visa Signature and World Elite Mastercard, there is no clear front-runner for which card is better to have in your wallet. Visa offers more protections, but Mastercard outshines Visa in other areas, especially if you are looking to celebrate getting out of the house with a one-of-a-kind experience in the summer or fall.
You can find excellent credit cards under both programs, so it might be best to have at least one card that belongs to each program. Before you apply, understand each card’s specific benefits package, especially when it comes to Visa Signature cards, since the offerings vary. Always check with the issuer for a card’s exact benefits package.
Additional reporting by Dawn Allcot.
Featured photo by Shutterstock.
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