Maestro (stylized as maestro) is a brand of debit cards and prepaid cards owned by Mastercard that was introduced in 1991. Maestro debit cards are obtained from associate banks and are linked to the cardholder's current account while prepaid cards do not require a bank account to operate. Maestro cards can be used at point of sale (POS) and ATMs. Payments are made by swiping cards through the payment terminal, insertion into a chip and PIN device or by a contactless reader. The payment is authorized by the card issuer to ensure that the cardholder has sufficient funds in their account to make the purchase. The cardholder then confirms the payment by either signing the sales receipt or entering their 4- to 6-digit PIN, except with contactless transactions below a specified amount for which no further verification is required.
Maestro often requires on-line electronic authorization for every transaction, although Mastercard's rules permit the establishment of floor limits on Maestro EMV chip transactions only. Not only must the information stored in either the chip or the magnetic stripe be read, but this has to be sent from the merchant to the issuing bank, the issuing bank then has to respond with an affirmative authorization. If the information is not read, the issuer will decline the transaction, regardless of any disposable amount on the connected account, except in the Asia Pacific region, where manual keyed entry is permitted under some circumstances. This is different from most other debit and credit cards, where the information can be entered manually into the terminal (i.e. by typing the 13 to 19 digits and the expiry date on the terminal) and still be approved by the issuer or stand-in processor. In most countries, other than those specified in Mastercard's rules, a PIN rather than a signature is always required to authorise a Maestro transaction, except where no CVM (Cardholder Verification Method) is required.
Maestro is accepted at around fifteen million point of sale outlets in 93 countries.
Mastercard acquired the existing Redeshop service in 2002 and rebranded it as Maestro, a few years later Mastercard rebranded their Mastercard Maestro to “Mastercard débito“, where the name may erroneously suggest that it is a debit Mastercard, but internally the cards are still Maestro. It is standard for most Brazilian credit cards to have a "dual-function" (when offered by the bank) where usually the bank debit card (Mastercard Maestro, Visa Electron or Elo) also has a credit function (usually the only brand in front of the card is Mastercard, Visa or Elo). When inserting, swiping or tapping the card it presents both functions to PoS and the seller selects which one to use.
Maestro debit cards are widely used, dual-branded with RedCompra, issued by the majority of banks (Santander issued only Maestro debit cards up to 2020). They operate through the local Transbank and Cirrus network. Usually, Chilean Maestro cards have a small logo on the back of the card. Debit Mastercard cards are issued by Coopeuch and Santander. Chilean Maestro cards usually are contactless.
Maestro is a PIN-based debit card network closely related to the CirrusATM 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. RBS's former U.S. subsidiary, Citizens Financial Group, switched to Visa, though like most foreign banks with operations in the United States, it used MasterCard's Cirrus network and the card participated in the Mastercard SecureCode initiative. Maestro is accepted at several banks (First Hawaiian and Home Street Bank) in Hawaii.
Maestro is extremely popular. It is as of 2014, 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, Mastercard, Conexus and Cirrus logos.
Bank of China used Maestro as its "international" debit card system in some areas before, but stopped issuing it from September 2016. In April 2017, they launched "Cross-Border" EMV Debit Card with Visa and Mastercard. Most ATMs owned by nationwide commercial banks still accept Maestro card. Also, certain ATMs will present the user with foreign language options upon insertion of a Maestro card.
Standard Chartered Hong Kong is used Maestro as one of the ATM card systems. However, the clients should make the request for using the Maestro in advance, or the bank would only issue the UnionPay ATM Card to new clients as default.
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 most cases co-branded with the German Girocard logo, but they cannot be used as Maestro over the telephone or on the internet. As of 2020, the Sparkassen Group announced to introduce a new co-branded Girocard using the Debit Mastercard system and effectively replacing the Maestro co-badge slowly.
Laser, which was co-branded with Maestro, has been replaced by Visa Debit and Debit Mastercard. The Laser debit card has been phased out by all banks and ceased to operate from March 2014. Irish Laser cards carried Maestro co-branding from 2008 onwards. They were intended to be used with chip and PIN POS systems. The chip on the card was programmed with two applications, one for Laser and one for Maestro. POS transactions were normally processed over the Laser network in Ireland and the Maestro network when the card was used abroad. Some POS terminals prompted users to manually select Laser or Maestro before completing the transaction. Laser cards could be processed as Maestro in most POS terminals worldwide for chip and PIN or swipe and sign transactions (where still accepted). Internet and telephone-based retailers, however, needed to be set up specifically to accept Irish Laser/Maestro cards. Transactions made with these cards were often secured by MasterCard's SecureCode system to verify the cardholder's identity. These cards were usually multi-functional and operated as a debit card as well as an ATM Card which could be used for accessing ATMs. Some banks also allowed customers to use their cards to deposit or withdraw money over the counter or at An Post post offices using their debit card and PIN. Historically the cards often contained a Cheque guarantee card function indicated by a hologram. This scheme was shut down in 2011. Foreign-issued Maestro cards are still accepted in Ireland in ATMs and by many POS machines. However, acceptance of Visa and MasterCard debit/credit cards is more reliably universal at POS terminals.
Usually co-branded with the national Bancomat/PagoBancomat and international Cirrus scheme. Most banks issue Mastercard Maestro, while some issue Visa Debit and Visa V Pay cards (the latter works only in Europe).
Most banks issue Maestro debit cards, with only De Volksbank and ING offering both V Pay and Maestro branded cards. Prior to January 1, 2012, Dutch Maestro debit cards were co-branded with the national PIN scheme. This scheme has since been retired and replaced by Maestro and V Pay.
The former Switch debit card system was re-branded as Maestro. Underneath the branding, however, the system was still the old Switch one and the cards were still fundamentally Switch. In 2011, MasterCard aligned UK domestic Maestro cards (the former Switch) with the standard international Maestro system, ending its status as a separate card scheme. This change also led to the discontinuation of the Solo debit card. In January 2009 First Direct and HSBC discontinued the use of Maestro cards, issuing Visa Debit cards to new customers and a gradual roll-out throughout 2009 to existing customers. In September of the same year, the British arms of the National Australia Bank, namely Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank, started the process of replacing the Maestro card with a Debit Mastercard for their current accounts, except for the Readycash and Student accounts, for which the Maestro card continued to be issued until 2015. Likewise, in the same month the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (Europe's largest debit card issuer which includes the NatWest, Coutts and Ulster Bank brands) switched from Maestro to Visa Debit, a process that took two years to complete. This effectively meant that only a few smaller UK banks would be issuing Maestro cards. In 2015, Bank of Ireland UK replaced its Maestro debit cards with Visa Debit cards. Few if any issuers still issue Maestro cards nowadays in the UK, and acceptance of non-UK Maestro cards is patchy.