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

American Express Cash Magnet™ Card

American Express Cash Magnet™ Card

  • Earn up to $250 back. Here’s how: 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.
  • Plus, earn an additional $100 statement credit after you spend an additional $6,500 in purchases within your first 12 months.
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on your purchases.
  • Cash back is received in the form of reward dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.99% to 25.99%.
  • With Plan ItSM, you can set up a monthly payment plan for large purchases with a fixed monthly fee and no interest charges, all with the same rewards and protections you expect from American Express.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the US started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • Read Rates & Fees
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Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.99 to 25.74%
  • Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 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 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 December 16th, 2018
Name Product Filter values Introductory Balance Transfer APR APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Annual Fee Minimum Credit Score
0% for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$95
670
Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$0
680
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$0
680
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. Rates & Fees
None (Charge Card)
$550
680
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
See Rates & Fees
$250
670
50,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months Rates & Fees
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
670
Enjoy a $0 annual fee on the first year and earn up to 2 Starpoints® for every dollar of eligible purchases. Rates & Fees
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$0
680
Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
680
30,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$95
670
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
17.74% to 26.74% variable
$0
670
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
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$0
670
Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
0% for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 24.99% variable)
14.99% to 24.99% variable
$95
670
Earn 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 December 16th, 2018
Name Product Filter values Introductory Balance Transfer APR APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Annual Fee Minimum Credit Score
0% for the first 15 months (then 16.99% to 25.74% variable)
16.99% to 25.74% variable
$0
670
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
0% for the first 15 months (then 16.99% to 25.74% variable)
16.99% to 25.74% variable
$0
670
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
17.99% to 24.99% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
670
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
17.99% to 24.99% variable
$450
740
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
19.99% to 25.99% variable
$0 to $99
580
Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchase, terms apply.
19.99% to 25.99% variable
$0 to $99
300
Get double cash back rewards at the NASCAR.com Superstore, terms apply.
19.39% variable
$35
300
A secured Visa® credit card that helps you build your credit quickly.
9.95% for the first 6 months (then 17.99% fixed)
17.99% fixed
$39
300
Borrow up to $10,000 and get your credit score back on track.
29.99% fixed
$75 annual fee for the first year ($48 thereafter)
300
The First Access Card is a true VISA® credit card that does not require perfect credit for approval.
19.99% to 25.99% variable
$0 to $99
300
Seeing if you pre-qualify is fast, easy, and secure.
19.99% to 25.99% variable
Up to
300
Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV, terms apply.
9.99% fixed
$48
300
This secured card can help you rebuild your credit with an initial deposit of $200 to $1,000.
13.99% fixed
$39
300
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.
9.99% fixed
$49
300
Fast, easy application process. No processing or application fees!
19.99% to 25.99% variable
$0 to $99
300
Seeing if you pre-qualify is fast, easy, and secure.
10.25% variable
$0
740
Offers multiple perks, including one of the lowest available APRs on the market.
12.25% variable
$0
740
Earn 1.25 points per dollar spent on purchases.
$0
300
A convenient alternative to traditional bank accounts.
$0
300
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.
13.5% variable
$0
300
A great way to establish or improve your credit history.
17.99% variable
$0
670
Earn 1% in Disney Rewards Dollars on all card purchases.
16.99% to 24.99% variable
$75
670
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.
17.99% variable
$49
670
Earn a 200 statement credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
15.99% to 23.99% variable
$0
670
Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market.
24.99% variable
$25
300
Now you can earn Miles that take you to Mexico and build your credit too!
17.24% variable
$0
740
Earn Costco cash rewards everywhere Visa® is accepted.
17.99% to 24.99% variable
$95
670
Earn 3 Avios for every dollar spent on British Airways purchases. Earn Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Asiana Visa Signature® Credit Card
Asiana Visa Signature® Credit Card
16.99% to 24.99% variable
$99
670
30,000 bonus miles after you make $30,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

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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
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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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