American Express vs Visa credit cards: Which is better? | finder.com
American Express next to Visa cards on a pink wallet

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.

Compare two cards: Amex vs Visa

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 15.24% to 26.24%.
  • You spoke, we listened. Over 1.6 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms apply.
  • Read Rates & Fees
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Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • New offer! Double cash back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
  • Read Rates & Fees
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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 annual 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 of $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.

Compare American Express and Visa credit cards

Updated April 24th, 2019
Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual Fee
6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%. 3% at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% on all other purchases
15.24% to 26.24% variable
$95
Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%. 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% on all other purchases
15.24% to 26.24% variable
$0
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on your purchases
15.24% to 26.24% variable
$0
Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
5x points on flights booked directly or flights and hotels booked through American Express Travel. 1x points on all other purchases
None (Charge Card)
$550
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
3x points on airfare booked directly with airlines; 4x points at US restaurants; 4x points at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 per year in purchases (then 1x points)
See Rates & Fees
$250
35,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months Rates & Fees

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated April 24th, 2019
Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual Fee
2x points on travel and dining. 1x points on all other purchases
18.24% to 25.24% variable
$95
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent, then unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
17.24% to 25.99% variable
$0
Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
17.24% to 25.99% variable
$0
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit. 1x points on all other purchases
19.24% to 26.24% variable
$450
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
5% on up to $2,000 each activated quarter on two categories combined (1% after), 2% on one everyday category and 1% on all other purchases
16.24% to 25.74% variable
$0
When you spend $500 on your card within the first 90 days, you’ll receive a $150 cash back bonus.

Compare up to 4 providers

Pros and cons of 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.
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Pros and cons of 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.
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What features and services do American Express and Visa offer?

Amex and Visa offer plenty of secondary benefits, such as purchase protection and travel insurance.

These features are relatively uniform among Amex cards. They’re often issuer-dependent among Visas, with the exception of Visa Infinite products.

American ExpressSelect Amex cards (e.g., The Platinum Card® from American Express)Visa TraditionalVisa SignatureVisa Infinite
Extended warranty
Purchase protectionDepends on issuer
Purchase protectionDepends on issuer
Return protectionDepends on issuer
Price protectionDepends on issuerDepends on issuer
Car rental insurance
Global Assist Hotline/Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
Roadside assistance
Travel accident insuranceDepends on issuer
Baggage insuranceDepends on issuer
Trip cancellation/ interruption insuranceDepends on issuer
Concierge

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.

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