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How MasterCard cards differ from Maestro

When I first encountered MasterCard and Maestro cards, I immediately had a question: how do they differ, apart from the logo?

I asked a question from more experienced colleagues, but their answer did not satisfy me: Maestro and MasterCard are one and the same, they just have different tariffs and appearance. At the same time, it was especially noted that on Maestro the card number and the name of the holder were not embossed (i.e., squeezed out), but printed.

Is Maestro MasterCard?

Both Maestro and MasterCard are bank cards that are issued within the MasterCard payment system. Therefore, we can say so.

Logos are not the only difference between Maestro and MasterCard

Very often, banks issuing MasterCard offer Maestro cards to customers as a cheaper analogue of MasterCard cards. But they have differences.

Maestro is a simple debit card

It was this purpose that was originally invested in these cards. It was assumed that this card can only contain the client’s own funds, which he can withdraw from an ATM or spend in stores.

That is why banks often offer such cards as part of salary projects. Technically, a Maestro card can be a credit card, and I’ve come across such cards, but in general, banks try to adhere to these recommendations.

MasterCard is a debit, credit and prepaid card

I don’t think there is a need to explain what debit or credit cards are. A prepaid card is a kind of thing, a card without a specific owner and personal account (tied to service bank accounts). To be honest, I haven’t come across such cards in my work, but they seem to exist.

But the purpose of the card is not the only difference.

What is the difference between Maestro and Mastercard

The main difference is that Maestro is a card for “electronic use”. This means that all transactions performed with Maestro cards take place online, receiving approval from the bank.

MasterCard cards allow transactions if the terminal cannot contact the bank. In this case, information about transactions is accumulated in the terminal’s memory and sent to the bank when the connection appears.

In addition, one can still find imprinters abroad – these are devices that are used to apply card details on special checks – slips.

It happens as follows: the card is placed in a special section of the imprinter, covered with a slip on top and “rolled” over it with a kind of press. As a result, the card number, expiration date and name of the owner are imprinted on the check. At the same time, the seller calls the bank and receives permission to perform the operation by phone. The amount on the account is blocked, and the money will be debited after the seller presents the slip to the bank.

This is what an imprinter looks like. It’s pretty “new” – the old imprinters didn’t have such smooth lines. Photo:

It seems to me a very complicated and inconvenient procedure. But it was with such devices that the life of bank cards began.

Now there are very few imprinters left and they are used only in case the terminal fails. And then the outlet will be able to serve a client with a MasterCard. And a customer with a Maestro card will have to look for an ATM to withdraw cash.

In general, this technical difference, in my opinion, is relevant primarily for foreign countries. In our country, the massive distribution of bank cards coincided with the development of mobile communications, so almost all operations undergo full-fledged online authorization.

Maestro has a very important advantage in terms of the security of electronic payments. You can pay for purchases on the Internet only using MasterCard SecureCode technology. This technology assumes that every online payment will be confirmed with a code that will be sent to the client via SMS. MasterCard cards also support this technology, but payments are also possible there in the old-fashioned way – just using the card details.

For my personal taste, the Maestro card is what a MasterCard should be. It seems to me that sooner or later the differences between these cards will remain only in the form of tariffs and card designs.

MasterCard and Visa also have premium cards – Gold, Platinum, etc. If you are interested in how they differ from ordinary ones, read the article „Why do you need a “gold” card? What is the difference between Classic, Gold and Platinum cards “.

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