Which bank card is better to choose and get - Visa / Mastercard, bank

One of the popular questions for travelers is which bank card is better to choose, which one is more profitable, and so on. The question is extensive, and includes the choice of a bank, the choice of the MasterCard and Visa payment systems, the choice of the class of service, etc. I will not be able to fully cover all the topics in one post, since everyone has different preferences, different conditions, and different banks in the city. Therefore, I will split this post into two parts. This part will focus on general points for completely newbies, but list of specific bank cards for travel will be in another article.

I think that it has long been obvious that traveling without bank cards is not very convenient, so this issue is no longer even discussed. Of course, someone still carries cash with them in large quantities, but it seems to me that they also have cards..

The content of the article

Map selection

Which card is suitable for travel

Generally speaking, any plastic bank card will work, with which you can pay on the Internet and in real life. You need it to book tickets and hotels, as well as to pay in stores and withdraw cash. I wrote separately about that, how to withdraw money in Thailand.

Thus, a Visa and MasterCard card of any bank will suit you, except for MIR cards, which are used only in Russia. Although it seems they have already begun to act.

But if you travel more than once every 10 years, then it makes sense to make a personalized card with a chip, so that it probably works everywhere. Visa Classic / MasterCard Standart is enough for you, you don't need more, Gold / Platinum and so on. Alternatively, Visa Electron / Maestro are also suitable, but sometimes they cannot be paid in real life or on the Internet. Most cards have a service fee, about 500-1000 rubles per year, depending on the card and tariff. Only Gold and Platinum are already higher in the class, but if you are reading this article, then you do not need them yet..

What bank card to get

What bank card to get

But if you go deeper, then everything turns out to be not so transparent. The fact is that each bank has its own tariffs, which include various commissions for conversions and exchange rates. Abroad, you will pay for purchases in local currency, and if there is a task to save on commissions, then any card will no longer work. About how the conversions take place, I have separate article. In addition to tariffs, there is also such a moment as ease of use, which depends on the technical support of the bank and the functionality of the Internet bank, because some issues will have to be resolved remotely, being far from the bank branch.

You can see the rating of banks in Russia on the website banki.ru, but it is important to choose not only the bank itself, but also a specific card. Sometimes there are such delicious proposals that you can forget about some other moments..

How is a debit card different from a credit card?

In short, a debit card allows you to use only the funds that were credited to it. And credit - allows you to get into a loan with the possibility of interest-free repayment during a grace period (usually about 50 days). To obtain a credit bank card, all kinds of certificates from work and other additional documents may be required. To get a debit you only need a passport.

If you do not know how to use a credit card, then it is better not to take it. But in general, this is a good thing and you just need to pay off the debt on time and then there will be no interest. In the meantime, you use credit funds, your money is on the deposit and generates income. Also, credit cards often give pleasant bonuses in the form cashback, in fact, earning from your spending. I personally like the Tinkoff AllAirlines card according to the terms, I made one for myself, it is well suited for travelers. And I have two debits: Tinkoff Black and Corn.

Dollar or Euro card

What currency should I open a card account in? The most logical answer is in the currency in which you have your income. If you receive money in rubles, then the account must also be in rubles. Yes, if you go to, say, Europe, then when you withdraw cash from an ATM or pay for purchases in a store, there will be a conversion into euros. However, it is up to you to decide whether it is worthwhile to open an account directly in euros due to short trips. Here you need to understand that currency rates are constantly changing, therefore, ideally, you should put dollars or euros bought at a good rate on currency cards.

Ideally, have several cards in different currencies (rubles, dollars, euros), and use them depending on the situation. You need to understand that if you really want benefits, you will have to deal with the rates and tariffs. Otherwise, you can not bother at all, or just follow the general trend. I have a separate post on this topic - What to choose a ruble or currency card.

Some banks (for example, Alfabank) allow you to link several different accounts in different currencies to one card. Such cards are called multicurrency cards. That is, before traveling to Europe, you switch from a ruble account to a euro account in the Internet bank, and the money will be withdrawn from the euro account..

What to choose MasterCard or Visa

Unfortunately, it is impossible to say for sure which is better than MasterCard or Visa. You will have to find out from your bank through which currency it works with the payment system (that is, through dollars or euros, the conversion will take place when paying in tugrigs), what is the commission for a cross-border payment, what is the commission for withdrawing cash from an ATM of another bank. And here it is necessary to look, whether the bank's tariffs differ for different payment systems. In general, it all comes down to choosing a bank, not a payment system.

The scheme - if Europe, then Mastercard, if America, then Visa - is not correct! Once someone launched this myth on the Runet, and everyone successfully replicated it. Also, when traveling to not quite ordinary countries, it makes sense to find out if this payment system is accepted in a particular country. I read that in Cuba and Africa, there are problems with Visa.

At the moment, I (and not only me) have noticed that, all other things being equal, it is more profitable to order Mastercard cards, since they often do not have a commission for a transgrantee. While on Visa it is more often than not. But this is not true, you need to look at a specific bank and its tariffs. For example, in the case of Alfabank or TCS it makes no difference, while Sberbank is better off doing Mastercard.

Conversions and commissions

When paying with a card abroad (or when withdrawing cash from an ATM), currency conversions take place, each of which may still be accompanied by a commission. This is inevitable, but you can try to minimize losses by understanding the tariffs and choosing a card more suitable for travel.

The conversion scheme can be as follows (for example, Thailand and a ruble card): we remove baht, the ATM sends a request to the payment system in baht, the payment system converts it into dollars and sends a request to a Russian bank, where the dollars are converted into rubles. THB => USD => RUB.

Losses depend on the number of conversions that will be made when paying for something. The lower the number of conversions and commissions, the better. Ideal, for example, when a euro card is used to pay in euros in Europe, while the bank debits the euro 1 to 1 from the account and without commissions. Russian banks work with payment systems (MasterCard / Visa) in certain currencies and additional conversions may occur. For example, your bank works with a payment system through dollars (even in the euro area) and you withdraw euros in Europe. The ATM sends the request in euros, the payment system converts them into dollars, and your bank converts the dollars at its exchange rate back into euros. EUR => USD => EUR. If your bank worked with the payment system through euros, then EUR => EUR (1: 1) would be withdrawn. Or, if the card is in rubles, then the scheme would be EUR => USD => RUB, although a normal bank would make EUR => RUB. The situations described are rare, but just be aware.

Another unpleasant option with conversions may arise when paying for something on a foreign website in rubles, for example, when buying an air ticket. Only then will you find out that the price in rubles was shown to you as an approximate, but in fact the transaction was in some hryvnia (Ukrainian sites sin with this). In reality, the request went not in rubles, but in hryvnias, that is, the scheme UAH => USD => RUB, as a result of which the amount was written off from the account at all that was indicated «roughly».

In more detail, the scheme of conversions and commissions is discussed in my article - How to correctly convert turgriks to rubles.

What to look for

One-time passwords

Now, on almost all sites, when making a purchase, be it a ticket, a hotel, or an item from an online store, you need to enter a one-time password. That is, in addition to entering your data (holder's name, card number, CVV / CVC code), you need to enter a password. In addition, the entrance to the Internet bank and transactions in it also require such passwords. More about, how to use a bank card.

There are 3 ways to get these passwords: SMS to your phone number, a paper check received in advance from an ATM (20 passwords), a plastic card (100 passwords) issued by the bank. Accordingly, the option with a paper check is not very convenient, passwords can run out very quickly. Although it is possible only with Sberbank (other banks issue plastic cards), and Sberbank always provides a choice - you want an SMS, you want a password from a paper check.

In general, even if a plastic card is optional in your bank (for example, you can receive passwords by SMS), it makes sense to take it with you, or take a photo of it (in a password-protected archive or in a special program). To be able to confirm the operation with a password from the card in case of problems with SMS.

Online banking while traveling

Perhaps the Internet bank will not be useful to you if you are not an active user of cards and accounts, and rarely do something with them, but it is better to have it. You may need to transfer money from one card to another, or see a statement on the latest transactions (payment for hotels, purchases in shops and cafes). Also, as a rule, through the Internet bank you can contact technical support, block the card, pay for the phone or rent in your home country..

In general, information security is a very useful thing on a journey. And if you go somewhere for the winter, then I have no idea how you can do without an Internet bank. There is also a mobile bank, an application that is installed on the phone. It has either such a full-fledged functionality, or stripped down. Also a useful thing, but it is advisable only not to lose your smartphone.

It is best to have multiple cards / accounts

It is better if there are several cards and from different banks. For example, one is the main one for shopping in stores, the second is for paying on the Internet, and the third is for withdrawing cash. Then you can guess very good rates for each of these options. Yes, and suddenly, the bank will block one card (this happens) or lose it, then you can quickly go to the Internet bank and transfer funds to another card. Or, one of the cards will not be used for payment. This is why I have multiple cards.

Sometimes it is also convenient to make additional cards to the main one for relatives. One account, and each has his own personal card.


Remember, do not keep too much on the card, let the main funds be in deposits, safe accounts, rarely used cards. After all, using a card, you expose its data and risk. Unfortunately, scammers do not sleep, put readers on ATMs (skimmers), steal card data on the Internet, and so on. Therefore, money cannot be stored on main cards..

Always use SMS passwords (if they are suddenly disabled) and plastic cards with passwords (this is even safer) in the Internet bank and during the operation. Call the bank and ask to authorize payments in stores with the priority of the pin code, not the signature. Set limits for daily and monthly transactions in the Internet Bank (if any).

Virtual cards - risk reduction

Virtual cards do not physically exist. They are needed to reduce the risk of online payments.

Let's say you want to buy something for RUB 10,000. You issue a virtual card in your Internet bank with an amount of 10,000 rubles on your account and a time limit for use, pay for the purchase, and that's it, your card has worked. That is, if suddenly the payment data of this card falls into the hands of intruders, then they will not be able to do anything, since such a card is no longer there. If the data gets in before you spent the money, then they will not be able to withdraw more than it has now. On the other hand, advanced banks provide the ability to set limits on transactions. For example, you can set 0 rubles, and only before buying, change it to the desired limit.

Some people use this scheme for online shopping in Asia, as it is one of the most risky regions. But it is better not to buy tickets using a virtual card, when boarding a flight you may be asked to present this card, which you cannot do, since the card is virtual. Actually, this also applies to ordinary cards, it is better to pay for air tickets with the card that will be with you. For those who are going to buy air tickets, I recommend Aviasales.com and Skyscanner.com, we use them ourselves.

P.S. The post has been updated, everything unnecessary has been removed, and some questions have been sorted out in more detail in other posts. Follow the links, read, ask.