Maestro Card

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Maestro is a multi-national debit card service owned by MasterCard. Maestro cards are obtained from associate banks and can be linked to the card holder's current account, or they can be Prepaid cards. The cardholder presents the card at the Point of sale (POS) and this is swiped through the terminal by the assistant or the customer or inserted into a Chip and PIN device. The payment is authorised by the card issuer to ensure that the cardholder has sufficient funds in their account to make the purchase and the cardholder confirms the payment by either signing the sales receipt or entering their 4 to 6-digit PIN. Within the EU and certain other countries, Maestro is MasterCard's premier debit brand and is the equivalent of signature debit card which does not require electronic authorisation. It is on the same level as a Visa Debit or Visa Check card. In most other countries, Maestro is equivalent to a Visa Electron and is MasterCard's tertiary card. It requires electronic authorisation much like a British Solo Card. There are many countries that still do not accept Maestro card to make Point of Sales transactions at all. Maestro is accepted at circa 9m Point of sale outlets. .

Acceptance and availability

  • In continental Europe, Maestro is, de facto, the successor to the Eurocheque system, since most European banks issued Maestro cards after the Eurocheque card had been discontinued. The cards are used for PIN-based payments at numerous shops and petrol stations.
  • In Belgium, the existing Bancontact/Mister Cash system will be phased out in favor of Maestro. This is directly in line with the European directive requiring member states to adopt a common payment system by 2010 (see Single Euro Payments Area).
  • In the United Kingdom, the former Switch debit card system has been re-branded as Maestro and now uses chip and PIN technology. An advertising campaign labels the system as "The new cash". Underneath the branding, however, the system is still the old Switch one and the cards are still fundamentally Switch. For this reason, some visitors from outside the UK may find their Maestro cards declined in shops. As another holdover, certain cards carry an issue number, and their card number as quoted on online card payments actually consists of a 4 digit prefix followed by the sort code and account number of the linked current account. The issue number exists in this situation as the card number itself cannot be changed in the event of the card being lost or stolen, but the issue number can be incremented to differentiate between the new card and old card. Cards are mainly issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (Europe's largest Debit Card issuer which includes the NatWest, Coutts and Ulster Bank brands), Clydesdale Bank, Yorkshire Bank and some prepaid card suppliers. In January 2009 First Direct and HSBC discontinued it use of Maestro card, issuing Visa Debit cards to new customers and a gradual roll-out throughout 2009 to existing customers. The scheme participates in MasterCard SecureCode initiative. The RBS Group will also be migrating to Visa Debit starting in 2009 to complete in 2011.
  • In Ireland, most banks issue debit cards that are co-branded with Maestro and the Irish Laser card logos. These function as a Laser Card in Ireland and as a Maestro card when used abroad, although acceptance is quite patchy. Generally, the Maestro function on these cards only works when they are inserted into a POS terminal. They cannot be used as Maestro over the telephone or on the internet. However, they can be accepted online or over the phone by any merchant who accepts Laser card. All Irish debit cards are now issued with Chip and PIN technology and transactions are normally only authorised by PIN. Most Irish POS terminals now authorise all debit and credit card transactions online[citation needed], so you cannot spend unauthorised funds.
  • In the United States, Maestro is a PIN-based debit card network closely related to the Cirrus ATM network, also owned by MasterCard. Like other PIN-debit networks in the U.S., Maestro there relies solely on a standard card and PIN, without a chip; signature-debit transactions in the U.S. are handled through the main MasterCard network or the rival Visa network.
  • In Brazil, Maestro has acquired the existing Redeshop service and is in the process of rebranding it as Maestro. Brazilian Caixa Econômica Federal is currently the major Maestro issuer in the world, with over 34,000,000 cards issued as October 2006.
  • In Australia, Maestro is part of the EFTPOS program and is most commonly issued by the Commonwealth Bank.
  • In Argentina, Maestro is the card used by the Banco de la Nacion Argentina and other banks, mostly state-run or provincial banks.
  • In Venezuela, Maestro is the leading debit card, issued by almost all major banks in the country. It is widely accepted in POS. It works on all ATMs showing the Suiche7B, Conexus and Cirrus logos.
  • In India, Maestro is the leading debit card. It is the debit card of choice for almost all major banks, except ICICI Bank. India's largest bank- the State Bank of India issues Maestro Debit Cards. Other prominent banks include State Bank Affiliate Banks, Punjab National Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Bank of Rajasthan, etc. Visitors to India can seamlessly withdraw cash at any of the ATMs of the above banks. A nominal amount of 1% to 3% is charged for this transaction.
  • In Israel, Maestro Cards cannot be used at point of sales locations to make purchases but the Cirrus network is accepted at a majority of cash points most of the time. The exception is the 'First International Bank of Israel' (FIBI) who do not accept Cirrus.
  • In Sri Lanka, Nations Trust Bank (NTB) issues all its customers with a ATM card, which also doubles as a Debit Card as well it being accepted at other Cirrus ATMs locally and internationally