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Discover vs. Visa: Which is best for me?

Each provider brings something different to the table.

Discover and Visa are very different companies. While Discover is a card issuer with a focused stable of cards, Visa is a card network that offers a variety of products. Both have strengths and weaknesses, giving you ample opportunity to pair cards from each side.

What features and services do Discover and Visa offer?

Consider these factors when deciding between Discover and Visa:

  • Annual fee.
    None of Discover’s cards have annual fees. While Visa also offers cards with no annual fees, Visa cards with more features can cost hundreds of dollars per year. The more perks you want, the higher the annual fee.
  • Rewards.
    Discover is a good choice for rewards on everyday spending, such as fuel and restaurants. It has a few cards with rotating 5% cashback categories. Visa is also a strong pick for everyday spending. It’s an excellent choice for 1.5% cashback and tiered-rewards cards. And it’s a potent source of attractive travel credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.
  • Signup bonus.
    Discover’s signup bonuses are unique: The provider will match rewards earned in your first card year. Visa offers more traditional bonuses: Qualify by using an eligible card to spend a certain amount within a designated time period.
  • Intro APR.
    Discover offers intro APRs on purchases and balance transfers for up to 14 months. Plus, you’ll earn rewards. Visa offers cards with better intro APRs along with rewards. You’ll find intro APRs for as long as 18 months.

If you’re still unsure which provider is right for you, check out their secondary benefits.

Discover secondary perks

Discover has carved a niche of its own by offering secondary benefits that help you build credit.

Other Discover benefits to consider

  • No overlimit fees.
    This can be helpful if you often exceed your credit limit. Some providers will charge for overlimit transactions if you’ve opted in for overlimit protection.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
    This includes cashback cards, which typically charge foreign transaction fees.
  • Free Social Security number (SSN) alerts.
    Discover will alert you if it finds your SSN on risky websites, or if it sees new accounts on your Experian credit report.
  • Freeze it.
    This lets you freeze your account via the Discover mobile app or website if your card is lost or stolen.
  • FICO score every month.
    Few providers offer free FICO scores. Your monthly score from Discover is pulled from TransUnion data.
  • Free overnight card delivery if you ask for it.
    Many other providers don’t expedite card delivery or will charge for it.
  • Cash at checkout.
    Get cash as you use your card at the register at participating retailers. This cash will accrue interest at your normal purchase APR — not the cash advance rate.

Visa secondary perks

Visa, on the other hand, is better for secondary travel benefits.

Standard Visa secondary benefits

  • Emergency cash disbursement.
    If your card is lost or stolen, you can arrange a cash pickup at a nearby location within a few hours.
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver.
    Pay for your rental with your Visa and decline the insurance at the rental counter.
  • Roadside Dispatch.
    Access paid roadside assistance services, such as towing, tire changes and lockout service.

Visa Signature cards are slightly more powerful than standard Visas.

Standard Visa Signature secondary benefits

  • Extended warranties.
    If your item’s warranty is less than a year, Visa will double it. If it’s one to three years, Visa will extend it by a year.
  • Travel and emergency services.
    Get pre-trip information, as well as emergency assistance when you’re traveling abroad.

Look for Visa Infinite cards if you want excellent purchase and travel benefits.

Standard Visa Infinite secondary benefits

  • Return protection.
    If you return an eligible purchase up to $300 within 90 days and the merchant doesn’t accept it, Visa may reimburse you.
  • Purchase security.
    You may be reimbursed if your purchase is stolen or damaged within the first 90 days.
  • Travel accident insurance.
    Get up to $500,000 in accidental death and dismemberment coverage.
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance.
    If your trip is canceled or interrupted for a covered reason, you could be reimbursed.
  • Trip delay reimbursement.
    You may be covered for reasonable expenses if your flight is delayed by more than six hours or you have to stay in a location overnight.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement.
    If your airline loses or mishandles your luggage, you may receive compensation.

Pros and cons of Discover and Visa credit cards

No card is perfect. Here are a few more strengths and weaknesses of each provider to help you decide.

Discover credit card pros and cons

Pros

  • No annual, overlimit or foreign transaction fees on any card.
  • Benefits to help you build credit responsibly.
  • Unique signup-bonus structure.
  • 100% US-based customer support.

Cons

  • Only one travel card.
  • Not as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard.
  • Lack of purchase protection and travel insurance.

Visa credit card pros and cons

Pros

  • Many more card options.
  • You’ll typically have a better idea of your signup-bonus value.
  • Better purchase protection and travel insurance.
  • Stronger travel credit cards.

Cons

  • Benefits may vary depending on the card issuer.
  • Cards may have annual fees and other fees.

Compare Visa and Discover credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
$200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months
5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 5% on Lyft, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases
$0
This solid 1.5% cashback card gets even better with the addition of up to 5% back in categories like travel, drug stores and dining.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $1,000 through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Plus up to $50 statement credit towards groceries
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on up to $1,000 on groceries until April 30, 2021, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn a signup bonus worth $1,000 plus up to $50 statement credit towards groceries with this popular travel card.
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
N/A
4% at gas stations on up to $7,000 annually (then 1%), 3% at restaurants and on travel, 2% at Costco and 1% on all other purchases
$0
An impressive cashback card that offers up to 4% back on everyday purchases like gas, travel and dining all for the cost of a Costco membership.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $900 through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
$550
Earn a huge signup bonus worth $900 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards with Chase’s premier card.
TD Cash Credit Card
$150 after spending $500 in the first 90 days
3% on dining, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other eligible purchases
$0
3% on dining and 2% on groceries make this a valuable card for food purchases. Available in: CT, DC, DE, FL, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, SC, VA, VT
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Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Discover it® Cash Back
Discover will match cash back earned at the end of your first card year
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
$0
Earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories every quarter you activate, then 1% thereafter. Earn 1% back on all other purchases.
Discover it® Miles Travel Credit Card
Discover will match miles earned at the end of your first card year
1.5x miles on all purchases
$0
Earn unlimited 1.5x miles on all purchases - from airfare and hotels to groceries and online shopping.
Discover it® Chrome Gas & Restaurant Card
Discover will match cash back earned at the end of your first card year
2% back on gas and dining up to $1,000 combined quarterly, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
$0
Earn 2% cash back on gas and dining on your first $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. After that earn 1% in these categories and on all other purchases.
Discover it® Secured
Discover will match cash back earned at the end of your first card year
2% back on gas and dining up to $1,000 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
$0
2% cashback at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus 1% cash back on all other credit card purchases.
Discover it® Chrome for Students
Discover will match cash back at the end of your first card year
2% back on gas and dining up to $1,000 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
$0
Earn 2% cash back on gas and dining on your first $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. After that earn 1% in these categories and on all other purchases.
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Compare up to 4 providers

The verdict

Discover or Visa?

Discover offers benefits that can help you keep a card responsibly, such as no annual fees, Social Security number alerts and free FICO score updates. It also has unique signup bonuses. Visa, on the other hand, offers cards with purchase protection or travel insurance.

Benefits vary greatly depending on the issuer, so take a close look at each card before applying.

Best of both worlds

You could get a Discover product and Visa product that complement each other. For example, use the Discover it® Cash Back as your everyday card and the powerful Chase Sapphire Reserve® as your travel option.

Bottom line

Discover and Visa bring different benefits to the table, but you don’t have to decide on just one. Cards from each provider can complement one another.

If you’re unsure whether either provider suits your needs, compare other card companies to find one that’s right for you.

Frequently asked questions

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