American Express vs Visa credit cards | finder.com
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American Express vs. Visa credit cards

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The positives and negatives depend on how you’ll use your American Express or Visa card, make a decision based on what features you need.

Both providers offer credit cards with unique reward programs that could suit one person better than the other. There are Visa cards in the market that earn a decent amount of reward points, but American Express reward cards tend to earn more.

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Things to consider when comparing American Express and Visa credit cards

  • Limits and expiration for reward points. If you’re saving for something big like a flight then it’s important to know that your points won’t expire before you rack them all up. Similarly, if you spend a lot and there is a limit on what you can earn, you’re missing out on major points.
  • Annual fee. Many Visa and Amex cards will come with no fee or have promotions that waive the annual fee for the first year. That being said, depending on the card you get from either, the fee could be anywhere from $25 to upwards or $500.
  • Interest rates. American Express generally charges an interest rate between 11% to 27%. Visa cards can come with either a variable or a fixed interest rate and can range anywhere from 8.25% to 29.99%.
  • Customer service. Both Visa and American Express have a reputation for its customer service and providing a concierge that can help you in any situation, whether its an emergency or not.
  • Complimentary insurance. Both Visa and American Express have credit cards that offer complimentary insurance when you pay for your travel in full with the card. However, it’s important to understand the terms and conditions before you apply.

American Express credit cards

Pros:

  • Potential to earn more points.
  • Can indicate personal financial status.

Cons:

  • Less accepted than Visa.
  • Surcharges to use American Express could hinder any rewards value you earn.
  • Eligibility criteria is more strict that Visa.
  • Generally a higher interest rate.

Comparison of American Express credit cards

Updated October 20th, 2018
Name Product Annual Fee Credit Score Min. Intro Balance Transfer APR Reward Value per Dollar Secured or Unsecured Introductory Balance Transfer APR APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Annual Fee Minimum Credit Score
95
680
0%
1
Unsecured
0% for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$95
Fair (660-699)
Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
680
0%
1
Unsecured
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
680
0%
1.5
Unsecured
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
Earn up to $250 back. Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn an additional $100 back after you spend an additional $6,500 in purchases within your first 12 months. You will receive the cash back in the form of a statement credit. Rates & Fees
550
680
1
Unsecured
None (Charge Card)
$550
Fair (660-699)
Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Rates & Fees
250
680
1
Unsecured
See Rates & Fees
$250
Fair (660-699)
25,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months Rates & Fees
95
680
2
Unsecured
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Fair (660-699)
Enjoy a $0 annual fee on the first year and earn up to 2 Starpoints® for every dollar of eligible purchases. Rates & Fees
680
1
Unsecured
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
Earn 10,000 Bonus Miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Rates & Fees
95
680
1
Unsecured
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Fair (660-699)
30,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
95
680
3
Unsecured
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$95
Fair (660-699)
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Rates & Fees
680
3
Unsecured
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Rates & Fees
680
0%
1
Unsecured
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
95
680
0%
1
Unsecured
0% for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 24.99% variable)
14.99% to 24.99% variable
$95
Fair (660-699)
15,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account

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Visa credit cards

Pros:

  • More acceptance than American Express.
  • Barely any surcharges.
  • Flexible eligibility criteria.
  • Generally a lower interest rate.

Cons:

  • Less potential to earn points.

Comparison of Visa credit cards

Updated October 20th, 2018
Name Product Annual Fee Credit Score Min. Intro Balance Transfer APR Reward Value per Dollar Secured or Unsecured Introductory Balance Transfer APR APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Annual Fee Minimum Credit Score
99
680
1
Unsecured
19.74% to 25.74% variable
$0 to $99
Fair (660-699)
Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchase, terms apply.
99
300
1
Unsecured
19.74% to 25.74% variable
$0 to $99
Poor (Below 660)
Get double cash back rewards at the NASCAR.com Superstore, terms apply.
35
Secured
19.14% variable
$35
A secured Visa® credit card that helps you build your credit quickly.
39
350
9.95%
Secured
9.95% for the first 6 months (then to fixed)
17.99% fixed
$39
Poor (Below 660)
Borrow up to $10,000 and get your credit score back on track.
48
300
0%
Unsecured
29.99% variable
$75 annual fee for the first year ($48 thereafter)
Poor (Below 660)
The First Access Card is a true VISA® credit card that does not require perfect credit for approval.
300
1
Unsecured
19.74% to 25.74% variable
$0 to $99
Poor (Below 660)
Seeing if you pre-qualify is fast, easy, and secure.
300
Unsecured
19.74% to 25.74% variable
Up to
Poor (Below 660)
Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV, terms apply.
48
9.99% fixed
$48
Poor (Below 660)
This secured card can help you rebuild your credit with an initial deposit of $200 to $1,000.
39
300
Secured
13.99% fixed
$39
Poor (Below 660)
Credit lines available from $200 to $5,000! You decide where you want to start and open your Personal Savings Deposit Account to secure your line.
49
300
Secured
9.99% fixed
$49
Poor (Below 660)
Fast, easy application process. No processing or application fees!
99
300
1
Unsecured
19.74% to 25.74% variable
$0 to $99
Poor (Below 660)
Seeing if you pre-qualify is fast, easy, and secure.
670
Unsecured
10.25% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
Offers multiple perks, including one of the lowest available APRs on the market.
670
1.25
Unsecured
12.25% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
Excellent Credit Required - Applicants that do not have excellent credit will not be approved.
300
Unsecured
$0
Poor (Below 660)
The AccountNow Prepaid Visa Card gives you quick access to your money, and is a convenient alternative to traditional bank accounts.
300
Unsecured
$0
Poor (Below 660)
The AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card is a debit card that allows cardholders the convenience of direct deposit without having to open a checking account.
620
Secured
13.25% variable
$0
Poor (Below 660)
A great way to establish or improve your credit history.
670
1
Unsecured
17.74% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
Earn 1% in Disney Rewards Dollars on all card purchases.
75
680
1
Unsecured
16.99% to 24.99% variable
$75
Fair (660-699)
Buy one ticket, get one for just the taxes and fees ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) after you make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening. There are no blackout dates.
49
670
0%
1
Unsecured
17.74% variable
$49
Fair (660-699)
Earn a 200 statement credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
1
Unsecured
15.99% to 23.99% variable
$0
Poor (Below 660)
Earn 5% Back at Amazon.com
25
640
0%
1
Secured
24.99% variable
$25
Poor (Below 660)
Now you can earn Miles that take you to Mexico and build your credit too!
720
1
Unsecured
16.99% variable
$0
Good (700-739)
Earn Costco cash rewards everywhere Visa® is accepted.
95
1
Unsecured
17.74% to 24.74% variable
$95
Poor (Below 660)
Earn Avios on every purchase and 3 Avios per $1 on British Airways purchases.
Asiana Visa Signature® Credit Card
Asiana Visa Signature® Credit Card
99
680
1
Unsecured
16.99% to 24.99% variable
$99
Fair (660-699)
No matter where you're travelling, feel free to use your Asiana Visa Signature® credit card without incurring foreign transaction fees when making purchases.
0%
Unsecured
$0
Poor (Below 660)
The 24k Prepaid Visa® RushCard offers online and in-store purchasing without a credit check.

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The verdict

Your personal shopping habits and how you’ll be using the card should point you in the direction of what will better suit your needs. If you can consistently do your everyday shopping (say about over 50%) without any surcharges, then American Express could provide the most value for you. However, if this is not the case, then you may want to consider a Visa card.

Best of both worlds?

If you can’t decide whether you want to choose between American Express or Visa, you can always get both and use one as a backup. Having both Visa and American Express means that you can use either of them as much as possible while earning more points. Whenever a surcharge applies for American Express, you can use the Visa.

Black Cards

When you are considering American Express versus Visa, don’t forget to take a look at their Black cards. These cards are not open to the general public and are issued by invite only. If you get an American Express Black card you will need to spend $250,000 on it yearly. They both come equipped with a concierge service that you can use to make arrangements for just about anything you need. If you get a Visa Black card, you will be given a credit limit based on your credit history and income level.

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Adrienne Fuller

Adrienne Fuller leads the publishing team at finder.com. She has one goal: to deliver the accurate and transparent information she wishes she had when she made some of life's important financial decisions. When she's not helping folks save money, she's hiking with her two Catahoulas around her home in San Diego.

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US Credit Card Offers

Important Information*
Deserve® Classic Card
Deserve® Classic Card

APR

24.49
variable

Annual fee

0 For the first year
More info
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™

APR

16.74
variable

Annual fee

995 For the first year
More info
First Access Visa Card®
First Access Visa Card®

APR

29.99
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card

APR

23.9
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
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