MasterCard Rules and Standards

In today’s fast-paced world of global commerce, Mastercard’s rules provide direction for business and operational imperatives to all participants in our payment network. These rules and other standards are based on principles that enable rapid evolution of global commerce while protecting the integrity of the network and the brand for all stakeholders. This article explains what the rules and other standards are, why MasterCard has them, and the principles that they support.

MasterCard Foundational Principles:

MasterCard Rules and other standards are organized according to the following principles:

  • Together, MasterCard and its customers will:
    • Uphold the value of the MasterCard brands as the choice of the payment for consumers, business, and merchants.
    • Act with financial integrity and in compliance with the Standards and the law.
    • Engage in rigorous fraud management practices.
    • Manage systems and programs to support the global interoperability of our network.

Why Have Rules and other Standards?

  • To enable growth with new consumers, businesses, and merchants while helping to ensure all customers operate with integrity.
  • To ensure we are the payment means of choice by upholding the value of the MasterCard brands.
  • To embrace innovation while ensuring transactions are trusted, reliable, and secure.
  • To enhance the development of global and market-specific solutions through our world-class interoperable network.

What are the Standards?

The Standards explain rights and obligations and technical requirements of MasterCard Customers, provide a framework for all participants in the payment scheme, and are the foundation of the MasterCard franchise.

Examples of Standards:

  • MasterCard Rules
  • Transaction Processing Rules
  • Security Rules and Procedures
  • Chargeback Guide
  • Card Design Standards
  • Authorization Manual
  • Settlement Manual

MasterCard Rules:

Below is a general description of the sections contained with the MasterCard Rules manual:

License and Participation: Sets forth rules about the rights and obligations associated with the license, activity, and sponsorship extending the area of use of the license and customer responsibilities.

Standards and Conduct of Activity: Sets forth rules about activity, indemnity and limitation of liability, and the right of MC to conduct a financial and/or operational audit.

Customer Obligations: Sets forth rules related to the obligation to issue cards, responsibility for transactions, fees, assessments, and other payment obligations.

Use of Marks: Sets forth rules related to the use of MasterCard marks, including displaying a mark, and use of a card design.

Acquiring: Sets forth rules about acquirers and merchants, including payment to merchants and sub-merchants.

Issuing: Sets forth rules pertaining to the issuance of accounts and access devices. Eligible cards and accounts, selective authorization, issuer responsibilities to cardholders, and special issuer programs including affinity and co-brand, brand value transactions, secured cards, and prepaid card programs.

Service Provider: Sets forth rules about registration requirements and the use of service providers to provide program service.

Settlement and Related Obligations: Sets forth rules requirements for the authorization and clearing of transactions. Rules pertaining to interchange and service fees, settlement liability, and risk of loss also are set forth in this section. Additionally, standards describing net settlement and bilateral agreements rights and obligations are set forth in the Settlement manual.

Region Specific Rules: Sets forth rules that are variations and or additions to the global standards. The geographic regions appendix of the manual identifies the specific countries or territories for each of the regions.

MasterCard Electronic and Mobile: Sets forth rules applicable to the MasterCard electronic brand, which supports electronically authorized transactions, and rules applicable to MasterCard mobile, which supports participation in MasterCard mobile remote payments, MMRP.

Compliance with the Rules and other Standards:

  • Customers agree to comply with the Rules and other Standards.
  • A Customer that fails to comply with any Standard may be subject to an assessment, or MasterCard could require the Customer to take or not take certain action.
  • MasterCard has compliance programs in place to help safeguard the integrity of the MasterCard system.
  • MasterCard maintains consistent compliance standards and endeavors to help customers achieve compliance with MasterCard Rules and other Standards.

The MasterCard Rules, the merchant edition of the security rules and procedures, and the chargeback guide are publicly available at

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