Mastercard Masterpass: An Efficient Way to Shop Online

Once you signed up, you could use it online, in stores and within retailers' apps. However, Masterpass has been phased out. See details below.
Ellen Cannon
By Ellen Cannon 
Edited by Kenley Young
Mastercard Masterpass

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» Masterpass is no longer offered

As of mid-2020, Mastercard Masterpass transitioned to "Click to Pay," a unified digital payments service jointly developed by Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express. As a result, this page is out of date. For updated information, see our story about "Click to Pay."

As consumers do more and more shopping online and on mobile devices, many may be looking for a secure, easy way to pay. Digital wallets can make carrying a physical credit card unnecessary in stores — but they don't work online and on mobile. And while it's frustrating to enter information at each checkout, it might feel more secure than storing personal data on multiple retailers' sites.

This is how Mastercard's Masterpass can help. “It's a digital payment service, not just a digital wallet,” says Ellen Barbara, senior vice president of digital products at Mastercard. “We’re bringing together our partners — banks, consumers, merchants — to provide the easiest way for a consumer to complete a purchase.”

Masterpass is best when used online and via mobile, but it's compatible with in-store shopping as well. Here's how it works.

How to set up Masterpass

You can sign up for Masterpass on its website. Start by entering your email address or mobile number, and then follow the prompts to create your account and password. You can add any debit or credit card — Mastercard, Visa, Discover or American Express — and the billing address. You’ll also enter at least one shipping address, but you can add as many as you want. You might be asked to verify your account via phone, online, text or an email with a verification code.

You can also sign up via your Android phone by downloading the Masterpass app or — if you have a Mastercard from a Masterpass partner bank — by downloading that bank's app. (There is no standalone Masterpass app for iPhone.) Follow the Masterpass app's prompts to create your account. You'll be sent a verification code, and then you'll take a photo of the card you're loading to create your digital wallet.

"The Masterpass sign-up experience is different if you have Citi, Bank of America or Capital One or other bank-delivered wallets," Barbara says. "The issuing banks host their own solution and determine the user experience they will provide to their customers."

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How to use Masterpass

Masterpass works differently online, at point of sale and in a retailer’s app.

Online: When you’re shopping at an online store that accepts Masterpass, you’ll be offered it as an option when you check out. If you choose Masterpass, a login box will appear as a screen takeover. You enter your email address and password. You’ll then get a screen asking you which card and shipping address you want to use. Make those selections to finish your purchase.

In stores: You can use Masterpass at brick-and-mortar retailers with point-of-sale devices that accept contactless payments. Open your Masterpass app and enter your passcode or, in some cases, your fingerprint. Hold your phone over the reader to make your purchase.

In a retailer’s app: Masterpass will be listed as a payment method at checkout. For example, in the case of Fandango, you select your movie tickets; choose Masterpass as your method of payment; enter your password, PIN or fingerprint; and pay.

“We let consumers choose how they want to pay,” Barbara says. “They’re not restricted to one device.”

Security and incentives

Without a service like Masterpass, it’s most convenient to store your name, address and credit card information on retailer’s sites, but that comes with obvious security concerns. With Masterpass, your information is stored in only one place. And as with a digital wallet, when you shop in stores, you don’t need to carry a physical credit card.

“In the checkout process, we take a traditional account number and tokenize it — provide a unique identifier — so that nowhere is your 16-digit number exposed to any bad people,” Barbara says.

Also, as Masterpass partners with more retailers, you might receive special bonuses, discounts or cash back. For example, you can save $20 at 1-800-Flowers when you spend $39.99 using Masterpass.

The bottom line

Masterpass — like its rival Visa Checkout — hopes to make the shopping experience faster and more secure, and it's especially handy for shopping at online retailers and via mobile devices. But the Masterpass app's lack of availability on iPhone is an obstacle, and its reviews in Google Play aren't good, with many commenters complaining of issues with using the tap-and-pay feature. At the moment, it has a way to go to catch up with other digital wallets for purchases in stores.

Have you tried Masterpass? Tell us about your experience.

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