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Author: Barry Bridges
Table of contents
How we chose our favorite Visa cards
Our experts use a scoring matrix devised by the experts here at Bankrate who have studied over 300 different credit cards and award our unique score. Each card has been evaluated against a final score out of 5. We have done the legwork to help you find the best Visa card for you.
Visa is a payment network this means that it provides the framework for your payments to be made and accepted every time you use your card. Visa is one of the most ubiquitous payment processors as it is accepted in over 200 countries and can be used at over 10 million merchants in the U.S.
The Bankrate card experts have evaluated these Visa cards on various attributes: annual fees, sign-up bonuses, APR, rewards value, additional features (like travel insurances). Each category is weighted accordingly to give a final score out of 5.
Recap of Bankrate’s top picks for Visa credit cards
Editor’s analysis of the best Visa credit cards
Chase Sapphire Preferred
This card’s generous rewards, stellar sign-up bonus and low annual fee are hard to beat. It’s a solid card for people scared off by the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s big annual fee.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Earn 2X points per dollar on travel and restaurants worldwide and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
- No foreign transaction fees
- $95 annual fee
- If you don’t like using the Chase travel portal you will miss out on maximizing your rewards value.
Read the full Chase Sapphire Preferred card review.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
With the Capital One Venture Rewards card, you can earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day, plus 10x miles on thousands of hotels through January 2020 when you book through hotels.com/venture. That makes this card perfect for anyone who is regularly making hotel reservations and who is agnostic to which hotel brand they stay with.
- Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 within the first three months of card ownership, worth $500 in travel.
- Earn unlimited travel rewards at 2x miles-per-dollar, rewards never expire, and 10x miles on thousands of hotels through hotels.com/venture.
- Flexible redemption.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- You have to make your travel purchase first and then use your rewards as credit on your statement.
- You have to redeem mileage credits within 90 days of your travel.
- $95 annual fee, waived for the first year.
Read the full Capital One Venture Reward review.
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One VentureOne Rewards card gets you close to the benefits of the Venture card but for no annual fee. You earn 1.25X miles (compared to 2X), but you still enjoy the great 10x miles on thousands of hotels through hotels.com/venture. That makes this card a great option to have on standby if you’re frequently booking hotel stays.
- Earn a one-time sign-up bonus of 20,000 miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening the account (equal to $200 in travel).
- 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, when booked and paid for through hotels.com/venture.
- Flexible redemption.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- There are more lucrative sign-up bonuses available.
- Have to redeem miles within 90 days of making your travel purchase.
Read the full Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card review.
If you’re willing to put in a little bit of legwork you can really maximize your returns with the 5% rotating cash back categories (on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter you enroll). If you fully utilize this offer it’s the equivalent to $300 per year in cash back rewards.
- Earn a sign-up bonus of $150 when you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months.
- Earn 5% cash back (on up to $1,500 in combined purchases after you activate) in rotating bonus categories each quarter, on everything else you earn 1% cash back.
- You can redeem your points as a cash back deposit to your bank account.
- You must enroll online to earn the 5% cash back in the rotating categories (although, Chase will send you an email notification about this).
- The card has a 3% foreign transaction fee so there are better cards to use when traveling outside the U.S.
- There are cards with a 2% flat-rate cash back if you prefer a more straightforward rewards program.
Read the full Chase Freedom review.
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
If you’re looking for a solid 0% APR offer on purchases and balance transfers with straightforward unlimited rewards and a nice sign-up bonus then the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the best options available.
- Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your spending.
- $150 cash back sign-up bonus after you spend at least $500 in purchases within the first three months.
- 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. Variable APR 16.24%-26.24% based on creditworthiness thereafter.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- There are more generous flat-rate cash back cards.
- No bonus categories if you wanted to access those higher rewards rates on certain categories.
Read the full Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card review.
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card offers something unusual for a cash back rewards card — the ability for you to choose your own rewards categories. You get to pick two categories: one to earn 5% cash back, one category for 2% back and on everything else you get 1% cash back. If your spending is usually concentrated in certain spend categories you may want to consider this card. Here are just some of the categories: fast food, department stores, ground transportation, movie theaters, and gyms/fitness centers.
- Unlike most cards that offer bonus categories (which pre-select the bonus categories) this card lets you choose your own two bonus categories every quarter.
- The card is in the Visa Signature network, which means that it includes some travel and auto protections and insurances.
- No annual fee
- There’s a $2,000 cap per quarter on your bonus categories, which may be an issue if you spend more than $8,000 annually on your categories.
Read the full U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card review.
Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card
This card’s generous points rewards, easy redemption options, and online bonus opportunity put it in the top of its class among Visa cards.
- Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases.
- Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. That can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
- Bank of America Preferred Rewards members can earn 25% – 75% more points on every purchase.
- Points can be redeemed to pay for flights, hotels, rental cars, vacation packages, and other travel-related purchases. You aren’t limited to certain websites or blackout dates.
- You have to make your travel purchases first then use your miles as credit on your statement.
- If you won’t use the travel benefits, there are other cash back rewards cards that earn higher flat-rate cash back.
Read the full Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card review.
What is Visa?
Visa is a payment network that’s utilized by many credit card issuers and banks. Payment networks are needed to facilitate an electronic transaction of funds between buyers and sellers, and they generally charge a small fee for each transaction.
While Visa technically acts as the facilitator for all payments made with a Visa credit card, it is not a credit card issuer or bank. It simply provides the payment network technology that credit card issuers and banks use for all cards.
Visa (alongside Mastercard) dominates the payment processing industry. If you have a debit, credit, or prepaid card in your wallet, there’s a good chance that the card is partnered with Visa or Mastercard.
Why choose a Visa card?
Visa is one of the most widely accepted payment networks in the world. If you have a Visa credit card in your wallet, you can rest easy knowing that your card should be accepted in 200 countries and by most retailers. Discover and American Express are not as widely accepted around the world, putting some Visa cards at a higher advantage depending on where you live and travel. Mastercard is Visa’s major competitor.In fact, Visa and Mastercard dominate the payment processing industry in the U.S. with three-quarters of all purchase volume in 2017 on Visa or Mastercard cards. The average consumer probably can’t tell much of a difference between the two networks, though both networks offer unique rewards benefits.
All Visa cards fall under one of three benefit tiers: Basic, Signature and Infinite.
Visa Traditional covers:
- Emergency card replacement.
- Emergency cash dispersal.
- Lost or stolen card reporting.
- Zero liability protection.
- Auto rental collision damage waiver.
- Roadside dispatch.
Visa Signature includes everything covered in Traditional plus:
- Warranty Manager Service.
Visa Infinite covers everything covered by Visa Signature plus:
- Trip cancellation coverage.
- Travel emergency and accident coverage.
- Lost luggage insurance.
It’s worth checking the fine print of your Visa card to see what you’re covered for.
Barry Bridges is a senior editor for Bankrate. Before he started writing about personal finance, he was an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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