Visa, Master, debit or credit: what are the differences?

Starting next year, Mastercard will end the Maestro feature. What does this mean for Luxembourg bank customers and what should they expect?

payment by card

Uwe HENTSCHEL

Starting next year, Mastercard will end the Maestro feature. What does this mean for Luxembourg bank customers and what should they expect?

The application to the Association of Luxembourg Banks (ABBL) clearly shows how confusing the situation is. Indeed, the latter must also carry out a more precise survey in view of the request regarding the announced end of the Maestro function on Mastercard.


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As of July 1, 2023, no new Maestro-enabled cards will be distributed to customers. The company Mastercard justifies this stoppage by the fact that the service, introduced just over 30 years ago, was not designed for online commerce. Cards that are still in circulation on that date may, however, be used beyond this date, until the end of their individual validity period.

What is changing for Luxembourg bank customers?

According to ABBL, BGL is currently the only retail bank in the country to issue cards with the Maestro function. Most banks use V-Pay. For Luxembourgish families, the announced end of the service is therefore of little importance. As far as merchant acceptance of the card is concerned, nothing has changed at this time. Luxembourg commercial banks will continue to support Maestro if they did before, according to ABBL.

Maestro or V-Pay – what is the difference between these two functions?

V-Pay is Visa’s payment function and offers similar functionality to its competitor Mastercard. While the latest V-Pay is primarily designed for the European market, Maestro can be used worldwide. The logo on each card indicates the function it has.

So V-Pay only works in Europe?

Yes, V-Pay works almost exclusively in Europe, while Visa is valid worldwide. That’s why the V-Pay function is losing more and more importance. “Currently, most banks are switching from V-Pay to Visa Debit,” says Ananda Kautz, head of banking and digital payments at ABBL. According to her, the process is the same as Mastercard, where the Maestro card was also withdrawn from the market in favor of its Mastercard debit card. According to Kautz, the reason for the discontinuation of V-Pay is as follows: “V-Pay does not work in e-commerce and is not accepted outside Europe. These restrictions no longer exist with Visa Debit.

What is the difference between a Visa debit card and a Visa credit card?

As with a simple bank card, the amount is immediately debited when paying with a debit card, whereas with a classic credit card, the bank grants an availability limit and payments are only debited later and in a grouped manner at the end of the month. . Most credit cards are from Visa and Mastercard, other providers are Diners Club or American Express. But Spuerkeess only offers Visa cards.


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Visa debit cards are accepted in over 200 countries and regions at over 80 million merchants, everywhere you can pay with a Visa credit card. Furthermore, the new Visa debit cards can now be used for online purchases or internet bookings in the same way as credit cards.

These debit cards are recognizable by the fact that they have a 16-digit number, just like credit cards. Therefore, it is often difficult to visually distinguish debit cards from credit cards. But you can recognize them by the fact that the corresponding designation (Debit or Credit) is always printed, sometimes on the front, sometimes on the back.

So can debit and credit cards be used in the same way?

Not exactly. While debit cards with a 16-digit number are generally accepted with no problems when shopping online, problems can arise while on vacation abroad, according to the consumer protection association. To provide a deposit when booking a hotel or rental car, it is preferable to have a credit card in your luggage while on vacation.



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Another difference, and no less important, is the usage limit. At BGL, for example, the weekly limit for using the debit card – as long as the account has sufficient funds – is 2,500 euros. On the other hand, the credit card usage limit depends, on the one hand, on the financial situation and on the other hand, on the type of credit card. In addition to Visa Classic, BGL offers three variants of Mastercard, Gold, Platinum and Elite, which differ in terms of range of services.

Do payment methods like Apple Pay or Google Pay still require credit and debit cards?

The answer is yes”. With these means of payment, it is no longer necessary to withdraw a card, just bring your smartphone or smartwatch with a function corresponding to the contact device. However, the card details must first be entered into Apple Pay or Google Pay In that sense, a map is still needed – but not necessarily in physical form.



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People who, for example, order a Spuerkeess debit or credit card online and want to add it to Apple or Google Pay don’t have to wait for the card to be sent to them. Depending on the parameters defined in the bank’s system, the card can be used immediately after ordering. For the time being, ABBL still does not have precise data on the use of new means of payment.

As Kautz explains, this application represents so far less than 5% in Luxembourg, both in terms of the number of transactions and the volume of money transfers. This is mainly due to the fact that the corresponding contact terminals are still far from being available everywhere.

This article was first published at wort.lu/de

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