It’s highly likely that when you open your wallet or purse, you’ve got a Mastercard card in it. After all, this is one of the world’s biggest card networks. Perhaps a lesser-known name is that of Cirrus when compared to Mastercard.

But it’s actually quite well-known in many countries with the Cirrus ATM network.

This post is for you if you’re wondering what are the differences between Mastercard and Cirrus and whether there are, in fact, any. Let’s take a closer look.

Mastercard vs Cirrus 

Before taking a look at the differences between these two products or companies, a little bit of history might be useful at this point.

Let’s start with the establishment of Cirrus. It was created in 1982 and was purchased by Mastercard in 1987 as a subsidiary brand. Prior to this, it was owned by six different institutions. 

But what is Cirrus exactly? According to sources, Cirrus is a “worldwide interbank network operated by Mastercard Worldwide.” 

Since it acts as a link between Mastercard, Maestro, Diners prepaid, debit and credit cards to a network of over one million ATMs in 93 countries, this is a major player in the payments space.

But what type of payments can you make with a card bearing the Cirrus logo? Firstly, you can make withdrawals from ATMs that have the Cirrus logos or make purchases with your Cirrus card where a PIN will be required.

How does Cirrus differ from Mastercard?

The main differences between Mastercard and Cirrus are the following: while Mastercard issues credit and debit cards, Cirrus is actually the name of the Mastercard/Cirrus ATM network, through which individuals with a Cirrus ATM or debit card can be used. In addition, whereas Mastercard is capable of handling offline transactions that involve debit and credit cards, Cirrus’ functions are to handle online translations which require a PIN.

If you’re wondering why Mastercard offers Cirrus cards, it will be worthwhile at this point to note that Cirrus is an ATM network rather. Meanwhile, Mastercard “operates as a global credit network for processing credit, debit and prepaid cards.” Ultimately, the two types of cards are aimed at different types of users. 

So, which merchants accept Cirrus cards?

The answer is any merchant or ATM that accepts a Maestro and Cirrus card. To make a purchase or even withdraw cash, a PIN will be required.

The beauty of it all, however, is that if you see the Cirrus logo (which looks very much like the Mastercard one and which has undergone several developments over the years), you know you’re safe and can make a payment. 


Now that you know about the differences between a Mastercard and a Cirrus card, you’ll be better able to make more informed choices going forward. For example, you’ll know that if you end up at a Cirrus ATM, you can withdraw cash from your Maestro or Cirrus cards.

You can also make online payments with a Cirrus card, although a PIN will be required.