What is Maestro?

Maestro is a brand of debit card issued by Mastercard. Maestro cards can be used for in-store payments and for withdrawing cash at ATMs. Most Maestro cards also allow online payments, depending on the associated bank.

N26 maestro card with a background image of a beach.
Hands holding N26 You and Maestro card with wheat background.

Maestro vs. Mastercard—what’s the difference?

Maestro debit cards and Mastercards are both issued by Mastercard, so it can be easy to confuse the two. The key difference is that Maestro is available only as a debit card, whereas Mastercards can be issued as a debit, credit, or prepaid card.To learn more about the differences between the two types of cards, read our guide on debit, credit, and prepaid cards.

How does a Maestro debit card work?

Issued by associated banks, a Maestro debit card is linked directly to your checking account. Customers use a Maestro card for withdrawing cash at an ATM or making a payment at a retailer, and some Maestro cards allow online payments too. Once a payment is made, the transaction is tracked to the linked account, and the amount is deducted from the balance.

Which retailers accept Maestro card payments?

Many retailers and ATMs worldwide accept Maestro debit cards for making cash withdrawals, contactless transactions, and PIN-verified payments. You’ll often see the red and blue Maestro logo on a retailer’s door, signaling to customers that Maestro is accepted. If you’re uncertain, it’s a good idea to check with the retailer to make sure that they take Maestro.

Clothes store Photo by Burgess Milner.

Benefits and drawbacks of Maestro debit cards

Maestro cards are recognized worldwide, offering convenient access to money at home and abroad. Plus, because debit purchases are deducted directly from your account, it’s easy to track where your money was spent. Payments made via Maestro cards also reduce the need for physical cash, making your money safer.

One drawback is that some transactions may incur fees, like using a non-branch ATM to withdraw cash.

Maestro debit card—NFC technology-enabled

Maestro cards are NFC technology-enabled. This technology digitally links the card, the connected bank account, and a retailer’s payment reader to take contactless payments.

With one tap at checkout, the electronic software communicates directly with your bank account to deduct funds.

To learn more about NFC and contactless technology, read our guide to contactless payments.

Are payments made with Maestro safe?

Maestro debit card payments have to be verified by the cardholder’s signature or unique PIN if they go over a set limit, making them a quite safe form of payment. Cash withdrawals at ATMs can only be processed after entering your unique PIN, regardless of the withdrawal amount. This greatly reduces the risk of large fraudulent payments or unauthorized use.

What is a Maestro card?

A Maestro card is a debit card issued by Mastercard. Customers can make cash withdrawals at ATMs and contactless or PIN-verified payments in stores. Some cards also enable payment for online purchases.

What is the difference between a Maestro card and a Mastercard card?

Maestro cards can only be used as debit cards, meaning they only have access to the funds on the owner’s bank account. A Mastercard, on the other hand, can be issued as a debit card or a as a credit card, where purchases made on the card are billed to the customer at the end of the month. Mastercard also offers prepaid cards, where customers can add funds to the card without connecting it to their bank account.

How do Maestro debit cards work?

Like other debit cards, Maestro cards are linked to a checking account and deduct the payment amount instantly from the account balance. They are NFC technology-enabled, so cardholders can make contactless payments for smaller purchases. For larger payments or cash withdrawals at ATMs, the cardholder must enter their 4-digit PIN or signature to verify the transaction.

Are Maestro cards secure to use?

Maestro cards are quite secure. Nearly every purchase must be verified with the user’s unique PIN or their signature, limiting the risk of unauthorized card usage. Any cash withdrawals made at ATMs must be PIN-verified as well.