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

  • $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%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • 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®

  • 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
  • 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.

Compare American Express and Visa credit cards

Updated February 23rd, 2019
Name Product Introductory Balance Transfer APR Standard APR for Balance Transfer Annual Fee
0% for the first 12 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
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
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
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
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
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

N/A

$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

N/A

$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 February 23rd, 2019
Name Product Introductory Balance Transfer APR Standard APR for Balance Transfer Annual Fee
0% for the first 15 months (then 17.24% to 25.99% variable)
17.24% to 25.99% variable
$0
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
0% for the first 15 months (then 17.24% to 25.99% variable)
17.24% to 25.99% variable
$0
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.

N/A

18.24% to 25.24% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

N/A

19.24% to 26.24% variable
$450
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
0% for the first 12 months (then 11.99% to 17.99% variable)
11.99% to 17.99% variable
$0
Earn 5x points on gas at the pump and 3x points on groceries. Earn 1x points on all other purchases.

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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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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