Your guide to Visa credit cards
Visa is an American financial services corporation best known for operating the world’s largest electronic payment network, VisaNet. The company isn’t a credit card issuer but does provide issuers, banks and other financial corporations with branded credit cards, debit cards and prepaid cards. Thanks to the global payment network, Visa credit cards are among the most widely accepted in the world.
Bankrate has the information you need to know about the best Visa cards available, from cash back cards to low interest options to high-end rewards.
Bankrate’s top Visa credit card selections for 2021
A closer look at 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 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,250 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- 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 our full Chase Sapphire Preferred review.
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Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards
The Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards could address some of the common anxieties about credit cards — like fees, high interest charges or dreading your next bill after a run of unexpected expenses. The lack of fees and a regular APR starting at 8.99% are designed to make the card more affordable. Installment plans ranging from 12-60 months (see terms) offer the benefits of predictable fixed payments and the potential for lower interest costs.
- No annual fees, foreign transaction fees or penalty fees.
- Regular APR starts at 8.99%.
- Installment plans could help you pay off your balance more quickly and save on interest.
- Earn 1.5% unlimited cash back on card purchases every time you make a payment.
- The high end of the card’s APR (29.99%) is really up there, so responsible spending is essential.
- You’ll need a Good or Excellent credit score (660 to 850 FICO) to get the full benefit of the starting APR.
Read our full Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards review.
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Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
With the Capital One Venture Rewards card, you can earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. That makes this card perfect for anyone who regularly makes travel reservations and isn’t exclusively loyal to a particular airline or hotel chain.
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
- Earn unlimited travel rewards at 2X miles-per-dollar, rewards never expire.
- 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.
Read our full Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review.
Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa
With the Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa, it truly is all about the numbers. The card earns 5 percent cash back in six categories — gas, groceries, internet, cable, satellite TV and mobile phone service — on your first $5,000 of eligible purchases every year (1 percent after). Still, you’ll need to use the card strategically and pay your bill diligently to account for two other numbers: a $95 annual fee and 23.99% APR.
- 5 percent cash back (on up to $5,000 per year) on eligible gas, grocery, internet, cable, satellite TV and mobile phone service (1 percent after) and 1 percent on eligible non-category purchases.
- Free access to Experian credit score online.
- Zero Fraud Liability.
- $95 annual fee.
- 23.99% APR.
Read our full Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa 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 per dollar (compared to 2X), but you still enjoy the same great flexible redemption options. That makes this card a great option to have on standby if you’re frequently booking travel.
- Earn a one-time sign-up bonus of 20,000 miles when you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening the account (equal to $200 in travel).
- 1.25X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee.
- 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 our 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 our full Chase Freedom® review.
The information about the Chase Freedom has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
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: two categories to earn 5% cash back (on your first $2,000 in eligible purchases each quarter) and one for 2% back, and on everything else you get 1%. If your spending is usually concentrated in certain purchase categories you may want to consider this card. The 5% categories include 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 our full U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card review.
The information about the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
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 along with dining. You aren’t limited to certain websites or blackout dates.
- You have to make your travel purchases first then use your points 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 our full Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card review.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
The sign-up bonus — 50,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days of opening the account— is worth $500 value. That offer provides quite an incentive to add this card to your wallet, but the real long-term value depends on your status as a Bank of America Preferred Rewards account holder. Preferred Rewards Gold members can earn 25% more points on every purchase, which increases to 50%, then 75%, as you graduate from Gold to Platinum to Platinum Honors.
- Generous sign-up bonus worth $500 value for spending $3,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.
- Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 you spend on travel and dining purchases. Plus, earn 2 points for every $1 spent on grocery store purchases — now through 12/31/21. Earn 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all other purchases. No limit to the points you can earn and your points don’t expire as long as the account is in good standing.
- Bank of America Preferred Rewards members can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase.
- Only the highest-tier Preferred Rewards members qualify for maximum rewards bonus.
- $95 annual fee.
- No introductory APR offer.
Read our full Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card review.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card
Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ makes this card a prime choice for Alaska Airlines loyalists who travel with family, friends or business associates. The rewards rate (3 miles per $1) on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases will also appeal to the airline’s frequent flyers.
- The companion fare could save you hundreds of dollars every year.
- You can use your miles to book travel with more than a dozen airline partners.
- Perks include free checked baggage for up to six on the same reservation.
- You can use the companion fare only once a year and only on coach.
- Long-haul travelers tend to get the most value out of the companion fare.
- Scheduled changes in the American Airlines partnership could limit earning potential for some travelers.
Read our full Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card review.
The information about the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
U.S Costco warehouse locations and U.S Costco gas stations exclusively accept Visa cards.
What is Visa?
Visa is a payment network 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 is at the top of the payment processing industry as the largest of the four major U.S. credit card networks. If you have a debit, credit, or prepaid card in your wallet, there’s a good chance that the card is partnered with Visa.
With over 1 billion credit cards in circulation worldwide (an estimated 798 million outside the U.S.), Visa’s international presence is undeniable. Their cards are accepted in over 200 countries and can be used with over 10 million merchants in the United States. In 2020, Visa’s worldwide credit payments totaled nearly $2 trillion, according to Creditcards.com Market Share Statistics.
Pros and cons of Visa credit cards
Pros of Visa
- Worldwide acceptance. Visa cards are accepted in over 200 countries and territories, making it one of the most widely accepted payment networks in the world.
- Travel benefits. The Visa benefit tiers feature an array of travel-related perks ranging from roadside dispatch at the lowest tier to lost luggage reimbursement at the highest tier.
- Straightforward benefit tiers. There are three Visa benefit tiers: Traditional, Signature, and Infinite. Having only three tiers can make understanding benefits a bit easier, though it’s always best practice to carefully review the benefits of any card you have.
Cons of Visa
- High annual fees on certain cards. A lot of Visa cards come with an annual fee ranging from $35 to over $500. There are also plenty of Visa cards that do not charge an annual fee, though the reward offers on these cards may not be as luxurious.
- More focus on travel protection, less on discounts/experience. Competitors like Mastercard feature travel experience benefits like airport concierge service, a feature that isn’t offered at Visa Signature or Infinite tiers.
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 by retailers all over the globe. Other payment networks can operate a bit differently. For example, Discover and American Express both process transactions and issue their own cards.
Visa finished 2020 with $21.8 billion in net revenues and $8.8 trillion in payments volume, according to the most recent annual report.
Mastercard is Visa’s major competitor. In fact, Visa and Mastercard dominate the payment processing industry in the U.S. According to the Nilson Report, both companies have had continued high-volume success, with Visa accounting for $1.94 trillion in credit card purchases in 2020 and Mastercard reaching $837 billion.
All Visa cards fall under one of three benefit tiers: Traditional, 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
- Year-end budget summary
- Travel and emergency assistance services
Visa Infinite covers everything covered by Visa Signature plus:
- Trip cancellation coverage
- Return Protection
- Travel emergency and accident coverage
- Lost luggage reimbursement
It’s worth checking the terms and conditions of your Visa card to see what you’re covered for.
Visa is the largest of the four major U.S. credit card networks, processing 206 billion payments and transactions within the last year.
How we chose our top-rated Visa cards
Bankrate’s personal finance experts have evaluated the top Visa credit cards according to our 5-star rating system. The list of criteria for rating credit cards includes:
Whether the card offers cash back, travel points/miles or multi-purpose rewards for eligible purchases and the potential returns based on rewards rate (1 percent cash back per $1 spent, 1 mile per $1 spent, and so on).
Perks and benefits
Whether the card offers extras such as retail discounts, extended warranties on purchases, travel insurance and financial management tools.
Whether the card charges an annual fee and if so, how much the card’s overall value and benefits might offset the fee.
Whether the card has a sign-up bonus, welcome offer or similar sign-up incentive and how much it adds to the card’s overall value.
How the card’s annual percentage rate (APR) compares with current averages as an indicator of cost and value.
Foreign transaction fee
Whether the card charges a foreign transaction fee for international purchases and how the fee affects the card’s overall value.
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