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I'm surprised at how prevalent the sign "We prefer MasterCard" is in Singapore.

Also, when I tried handing in my VISA at local 7-11, a staff there looked dissatisfied, by shouting out "VISA?!". This is not the only case, as the similar situation occurred just in a few days; every time when I tried handing in my VISA, the staff looked dissatisfied. This occurred at least 5 times in 5 days, which seems so many.

One staff at 7-11 even declined my VISA by saying "Ah, VISA...NO!". I asked why, and then he said the machine is broken.

My bet of him lying is 85%. But I paid it via EZ-Link.

With all these cases, they seem to like either cash or MasterCard, but I'm not sure.

So let me assume they do and ask a question.

Why does a local store in Singapore like to accept MasterCard so much? I wonder if the staff at counter receives some sort of charges, which depends on how a customer pays the money.

And is it rude to use VISA? I don't like to bother to ask them if I can use VISA; It's exactly the convenience that I love the card.

And finally, what is the purpose of showing "We prefer MasterCard", even if they accept VISA or AMEX too? This is not seen in other Asian countries, so I'm perplexed.

  • 5
    I wonder if the local merchant providers are offering the merchants a much better deal on Mastercard transactions than Visa ones. – Peter Green Aug 14 '16 at 16:07
  • 1
    @PeterGreen Agree, and that's why I'm surprised. Amex/Diners does usually require more that Visa/MC, so there are some stores in Japan that hate Amex/Diners, which I can understand... – Blaszard Aug 14 '16 at 16:13
  • Do store in Singapore have contactless terminals? I usually pay without the staff having a chance to look at my card here in Europe. – JonathanReez Aug 14 '16 at 18:15
  • Or chip and PIN terminals? – Michael Hampton Aug 14 '16 at 19:03
  • As a singaporean, most of us use NETS ;p I've never heard any visa hate or mastercard love here ever. – Journeyman Geek Aug 15 '16 at 2:53
17

Your assumption is wrong: the stores are unhappy with being offered a credit card (which they either don't accept, or have to pay fees for), not the fact that it's specifically a Visa.

In my experience, and this is from living in Singapore for 8 years, acceptance of Visa and MasterCard is near-identical. American Express is much less common (it has higher fees) and Diners Club is for tourists only.

If your purchases are small enough to pay with EZLink, they're probably too small for the merchant to want to bother with credit cards. Not a few hawker stalls, corner shops etc operate on a cash-only basis so they can underreport their income and pay less taxes.

The "We prefer MasterCard" is a marketing thing, restaurants etc that accept it get freebies (bill holders etc) and discounts if they achieve a certain volume of transactions.

Singaporean culture is also noticeably more brusque than (say) Japan or Thailand: instead of grovelling apologies, you'll just be told "No lah, Visa cannot". No offence is intended or taken.

  • 3
    +1 "We accept Visa" is also common, it's a sticker that is provided by the bank that provides the payment machine, that's it. Regarding the "No lah", it's sometimes "no laaaaah".. gives the impression that you are doing something wrong.. Good answer! – Nean Der Thal Aug 14 '16 at 21:58
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    +1 for "instead of grovelling apologies, you'll just be told "No lah, Visa cannot". Such a succinct picture. – kabZX Mar 23 '17 at 18:37

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