Comparing Visa Signature and World Elite Mastercard benefits
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When you think of top rewards credit cards and their benefits, what usually comes to mind are the points, miles and perks offered by the card issuer or its cobranded partner. However, some of a card’s most useful, and often underrated, features can come from its payment network.
Visa and Mastercard are the two most widely used and accepted payment networks for U.S. credit cards, and each offers its own benefits program. Many of Visa’s top cards fall under the Visa Signature program, while many of Mastercard’s top cards fall under the World Elite Mastercard program.
To see if your card is included in one of these programs, look for the payment network logo on your card (generally located on the bottom right of your card). If you see the word “Signature” under the Visa logo or the words “World Elite” above the Mastercard logo, then your card is included in one of these programs.
Today, I’m walking through some of the benefits of both programs and the top cards that belong to each.
Travel and purchase protections
Both programs offer a suite of travel and purchase protections, but Visa Signature outshines World Elite Mastercard.
Protections offered to all cards within the Visa Signature program:
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- Extended warranty
- Roadside dispatch
- Travel and emergency services
- Zero liability protection
- Emergency cash disbursement
Visa also offers the following benefits to 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
- Cell phone protection
- Emergency medical and dental
- Price protection
- Return protection
- Emergency evacuation
- Purchase security
Mastercard recently removed quite a few of the standard purchase and travel protections that consumers previously counted on. This led to a number of specific cards across issuers to drop benefits, such as price protection, extended warranty and travel insurance coverages.
There are a few protections that both program offer, including cell phone protection, emergency assistance services and zero liability protection. Most notable is the cell phone protection, which Mastercard only recently added to its suite of benefits. We’re starting to see more cards across Mastercard’s network offer this benefit, while only a select few cards such as the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card offer it under the Visa Signature program.
Access to travel benefits
Both the Visa Signature and World Elite Mastercard programs offer access to a luxury hotel collection, but each offers its own set of unique travel benefits.
World Elite Mastercard comes with more travel experience benefits than Visa Signature:
- Priceless Cities – Gives you access to exclusive offers, VIP events, insider opportunities and special promotions with your Mastercard
- Complimentary professional travel services – This service is available to help you plan your trip 24/7
- onefinestay – Save 10% on rental homes and villas
- Lowest rate guaranteed – If you find the same prepaid hotel stay for less, Mastercard will refund you the difference
- Hotel stay guarantee – If your 3-star or above hotel stay booked through the Mastercard Travel and Lifestyle Services program isn’t working out, a Mastercard Lifestyle Manager will help work to make it right
- Airport concierge – Arrange for an agent to escort you through the airport upon departure, arrival or through connecting flights at over 700 destinations
- World Elite concierge – Receive 24/7 service to help you book reservations and more
- Mastercard Luxury Hotel and Resorts Portfolio – Complimentary upgrades, early check-in and late checkout, when available, and more when you book through this service
Visa Signature offers a few similar benefits, such as its Luxury Hotel Collection and dedicated concierge service. There are also some unique benefits that only Visa offers, including a discount with GroundLink chauffeured car service and Silvercar car rental service by Audi. However, Visa offers no equivalent to Mastercard’s hotel rate or stay guarantee, which puts it at a slight disadvantage.
Both programs have partnerships with brands that translate into perks and savings for cardholders.
Mastercard recently added new savings on popular brands, including a monthly $10 Lyft credit when you take five rides; 5% back on Boxed orders; $5 off Postmates orders of $25 or more before taxes and fees; discounts for Fandango tickets, and a free ShopRunner membership.
The Visa Signature website lists more than a dozen brand partnerships for cardholders, including fourth-night-free benefits at certain hotels, rental car discounts and tourist attraction special offers.
Top Visa Signature cards
Although this is not an exhaustive list, here are some of my favorite cards that fall under the Visa Signature program:
This card features 2x points on all travel and dining purchases, and an impressive 60,000-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. There is a $95 annual fee for this card, but you’ll also receive specialty Visa Signature perks such as primary auto coverage and travel protections.
Check out our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred here.
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’ll also get 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. There is a $95 annual fee that is waived for the first year, and you’ll get perks such as a statement credit of up to $100 for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment fee.
Check out our full review of the Capital One Venture card here.
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.
Check out our full review of the Alaska Airlines Visa here.
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 (waived the first year) and comes with a $300 cash-back bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Check out our full review of the Capital One Savor here.
Citi Prestige® Card
You’ll earn 5x on airfare and dining and 3x on hotel and cruise purchases, plus 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. The card offers Mastercard benefits like cell phone protection, but also card-specific perks like fourth night free on eligible hotel stays, Priority Pass lounge access and a $250 annual travel credit.
Check out our full review of the Citi Prestige here.
The information for the Citi Prestige 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 frontrunner for which card is better to have in your wallet. Visa offers more protections, but Mastercard outshines Visa in other areas. You can find excellent credit cards under both programs, so it’s honestly best to have at least one card that belongs to each program. Before you apply, understand each card’s benefits package, especially when it comes to Visa Signature cards. Always check with the issuer for a card’s exact benefits package.
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.