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Payment Networks in Singapore - Visa, MasterCard, AmEx and more

Written by
Marissa Saini
Last Modified on
December 19, 2023

Nowadays, financial transaction have become more accessible and convenient than ever before. Behind the scenes of every payment made with card lies a network that enables the seamless transfer of funds. These networks plays a vital role in facilitating secure transaction between consumers, merchants and financial institutions.

In this blog, we will explore the prominent payment networks in Singapore, which includes Visa, MasterCard, American Express (AmEx), and others, and shed light on their significance in Singapore's vibrant economy.

What is a Card Network?

Before diving into specific payment networks, it’s essential to understand the concept of card network. Card network act as intermediaries that connect consumers, merchants and financial institutions in the payment process. They establish and maintain the technical infrastructure required to authorize, process and settle card-based transactions.

Card networks typically involve partnerships between card issuers like banks, fintech providers, financial institutions, merchants, and payment networks like Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover to enable financial operations.

Payment Networks and Their Role:

Payment networks, also known as payment card networks, are a part of the broader card networks that facilitate electronic transactions using payment cards, such as credit cards and debit cards. These networks enable consumers to make purchases at various merchants, both online and offline, while ensuring the secure transfer of funds to the merchant’s account. 


Payment networks act as a communication system through which digital transactions are accepted, authorised, verified, and approved. Payment networks also provide additional features such as fraud protection, transaction monitoring, and rewards programs to enhance the overall user experience. Payment networks impose various fees the services they provide. 

Top corporate card payment networks in Singapore

Payment networks are critical in enabling business transactions and providing convenience, security, and specialized services for enterprises using corporate payment cards. For this reason and many others, choosing the right payment network for your corporate card in Singapore becomes essential.

Some prominent payment networks widely used by businesses in Singapore are listed below.

Mastercard

Mastercard, Singapore is a credible corporate card network that provides wide acceptance, extensive rewards programs, robust expense management tools, access to exclusive offers, comprehensive travel benefits, enhanced security features, and tailored solutions.

It offers businesses a range of options to optimize expense tracking, streamline payments, and maximize the value of their corporate card program. Also, the Mastercard debit card allows you to set transaction limits to control employee spending.

Visa

The Visa corporate card network in Singapore offers global acceptance, advanced expense management tools, Visa Payables Automation for streamlined accounts payable, commercial offers and discounts, enhanced security features, and customizable solutions crafted for business needs.

Note that the difference between Visa and MasterCard debit cards when it comes to functionality and usage is very narrow.

American Express

American Express corporate card network in Singapore offers premium benefits, exceptional customer service, access to airport lounges, concierge services, and travel-related perks. It provides attractive rewards programs, efficient expense management tools, and specialized offerings for high-end establishments. While acceptance may not be as widespread as other networks, Amex offers exclusive benefits and is acclaimed for personalized service.

UnionPay

This corporate card network in Singapore provides convenient payment options for businesses with trade connections to China or operating in the Chinese market. It offers extensive acceptance in Singapore and China, specialized benefits for Chinese business travelers, and access to UnionPay's vast network of merchants. UnionPay corporate cards cater to the specific needs of businesses with Chinese market involvement.

Diners Club International

This is again a well-known corporate card network in Singapore focusing on travel and entertainment benefits. Their corporate cards provide businesses with a range of travel benefits, like cashback, to enhance the travel experience of business employees. The network has good acceptance in Singapore and is suitable for businesses with travel-intensive operations.

A quick comparison of the top three corporate card network providers is made here so businesses can get a brief idea about their offerings. Nevertheless, for specific and accurate information, contact the particular network provider.

Comparing top corporate card payment networks

Visa

Acceptance: Visa cards are accepted at a large number of establishments in Singapore, including retail stores, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, online merchants, and various service providers. You can use your Visa card for everyday purchases, dining, shopping, transportation, and more.

Security: Visa employs multiple layers of security, including encryption, fraud monitoring, and a secure payment network, to safeguard transactions. Also, Visa offers services like Verified by Visa, which adds an extra layer of protection by requiring a unique password or code for online purchases.

Speed: Visa card transactions are typically processed swiftly in Singapore. The payment process is generally quick and seamless, with transactions being authorized within seconds in most cases. The speed of transactions can also depend on factors such as the merchant's payment system and the cardholder's bank.

Mastercard

Acceptance: MasterCard is widely accepted in Singaporeand accepted by almost all merchants accepting cards. These include retail stores, restaurants, hotels, online retailers, and other establishments throughout Singapore.

Security: Mastercard adheres to international security standards. Mastercard implements security features like EMV chip technology, tokenization, encryption, and fraud monitoring systems to ensure secure transactions. Also, Mastercard offers services like Mastercard SecureCode, an extra level of authentication in place for online purchases.

Speed: The payment process is usually seamless and swift, with authorization occurring within seconds.

American Express

Acceptance: Many major establishments in Singapore, including hotels, high-end retailers, restaurants, and online merchants, accept American Express cards. However, it's worth noting that some smaller merchants or local establishments may have limited acceptance or may not accept Amex cards. It's advisable to look for the American Express logo or inquire with the merchant before making a purchase.

Security: They employ technologies like EMV chip technology, tokenization, and encryption to protect transactions just like Mastercard. Amex also offers services like SafeKey, which provides additional authentication for online purchases.

Speed: American Express transactions in Singapore are generally processed quickly, similar to Visa and Mastercard. However, it's worth noting that some establishments might have slower transaction processing for Amex compared to other card networks. 

The difference - Visa vs Mastercard vs American Express

Global coverage

Visa and Mastercard, as the two largest card networks globally, provide extensive global coverage, with acceptance in over 200 countries and territories. Their wide-reaching networks enable cardholders to make payments and withdraw cash from ATMs in various regions around the world. Merchants across different sectors, from retail stores to online platforms, commonly accept both Visa and Mastercard, ensuring convenient and accessible payment options for cardholders wherever they go.

While Visa and Mastercard offer comprehensive global coverage, American Express (Amex) has a slightly more limited acceptance footprint. Nevertheless, Amex has a presence in over 160 countries and territories, providing cardholders with payment options in many popular travel destinations and commercial hubs. Amex focuses on premium card offerings and services, catering to a specific clientele that values its exclusive benefits, travel perks, and customer support. Despite its comparatively narrower acceptance, Amex continues to expand its global coverage through partnerships with merchants and financial institutions worldwide.

Fees & charges

The primary distinction among Visa, Mastercard & American Express for merchants and retailers lies in the cost associated with supporting each network. When a customer uses such a card network for a purchase, the corresponding card network imposes a moderate fee on the merchant to facilitate the transaction. The processing fees vary depending on the network and often play a crucial role in determining whether a retailer accepts a particular card. For instance, Mastercard typically incurs a cost of 1.55% to 2.6% per transaction, whereas American Express charges a range of 2.5% to 3.5%. Visa and Discover have similar rates to Mastercard, ranging from 1.43% to 2.4% and 1.56% to 2.3%, respectively.

Benefits

The benefits provided by your card's network depend on your card's service level, but it's important to note that not all cards are guaranteed to include every benefit at each level. Issuers have the flexibility to offer a combination of available benefits across different levels. While your card will likely have additional benefits beyond the network benefits, the following list represents the minimum benefits you can avail of.

Visa

Visa provides three tiers of card benefits, which encompass the following features and advantages –

Visa Traditional  

  • Protection against fraudulent charges (typically 0 liability)
  • Cardholder inquiry service
  • Roadside dispatch for emergencies
  • Emergency cash disbursement
  • Emergency card replacement
  • Coverage for collision damage in auto rentals.

Visa signature (in addition to Traditional benefits)

  • Travel/emergency assistance services
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Fine wine and food discounts
  • Visa Signature Concierge
  • Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection
  • Golf discounts

Visa infinite (in addition to Traditional and Signature benefits)

  • Purchase security
  • Return protection
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa Infinite car rental privileges
  • Priority Pass lounge access
  • Airline incidentals statement credit
  • Global Entry statement credit

Mastercard

Mastercard provides three levels of benefits, offering distinct minimum benefits at each level. Listed below are the main benefits at each level –

Standard 

  • Zero liability protection for unauthorized transactions
  • Extended warranty coverage for eligible purchases
  • Price protection for eligible purchases
  • Satisfaction guarantee on eligible purchases
  • Global Mastercard Service for emergency card replacement/cash advances
  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection
  • Rental car insurance

World (in addition to Standard Benefits)

  • Worldwide acceptance
  • Purchase assurance
  • Lost or damaged luggage insurance
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Master Rental Insurance
  • Mastercard Luxury Hotel & Resorts Portfolio
  • Mastercard Airport Concierge
  • Fuel Rewards Network
  • Shop Runner
  • Onefinestay membership
  • Priceless Cities
  • Discounts on car rentals, hotels, and more

World Elite Benefits (in addition to Standard and World Benefits)

  • Extra levels of travel insurance
  • World Elite luxury travel benefits
  • Personal travel advisor
  • Elite hotel privileges
  • Exclusive dining
  • Mastercard Global Service Premium

American Express

American Express offers various card types to cater to different business needs and preferences. However, some regular benefits include –

  • Membership rewards
  • Extended warranty
  • Purchase protection
  • Return protection
  • Cell phone coverage
  • Amex mobile app
  • Airport lounge access
  • Concierge service
  • Amex Offers
  • Baggage insurance plan
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Trip delay insurance
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Global assist hotline

Note that the above network provider benefits serve as a general overview, and the specific benefits may vary based on the issuer and the individual card. It is recommended to review the terms and conditions provided by the particular Visa/Mastercard/American Express card issuer for complete and accurate information on the benefits associated with a card.

Key factors to consider while selecting a card network for your business in Singapore

1.International Reach

If your business has plans for expansion or caters to international customers, consider a card network with a global presence and wide acceptance outside of Singapore. This will ensure seamless payment processing for customers from different countries.

2.Acceptance

Learn about the acceptance and accessibility of the card network. Ensure that the network is accepted by merchants across the globe and service providers both on domestic turf and international business arena.

3.Accessibility

Consider the network's presence and availability of ATMs and customer service support in Singapore and other countries relevant to your business operations.

4.Review fees: 

It's crucial to thoroughly review the fees and pricing structures of different payment networks, comparing them based on your specific business requirements and transaction volume. These fees can include interchange fees, assessment fees, and network fees.

5. Security

Consider the security measures provided by the card network to protect against fraud and data breaches. Look for features like tokenization, encryption, and fraud monitoring systems to safeguard your customers' payment information.

Conclusion

It is essential to identify the benefits you seek from a corporate card as much as you focus on the benefits offered by a particular payment network. 

For instance, you might prioritize a card that provides access to airport lounges, offers cashback rewards on specific spending categories, or features 0% APR balance (interest rate charged on outstanding balance on a corporate credit card after the statement period ends) transfers and a payment network that supports your employees with travel benefits, baggage insurance, warranty, and purchase protection. Find a corporate card and payment network that aligns with your business requirements to make their optimal use.

Aspire's corporate card is a unified solution for your business needs. You can now manage your global operations; scale company spend, and avail of cashback on digital marketing, SaaS subscriptions, e-commerce, and business logistics, all in one place. So, why not get started with Aspire?

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About the author
Marissa Saini
is a seasoned writer and an avid trendspotter across business finance, personal finance, travel and lifestyle industries. With writing history at SingSaver, INK, and ohmyhome, Marissa leverages her broad range of experiences to simplify finance and make readers financially savvy.
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