A guide to Visa credit cards
Depending on the card and its level of benefits, Visa credit cards come packed with a number of useful features. These range from roadside assistance to travel protection and concierge services. But the rewards and benefits that truly draw in cardholders – low interest rates, cash back rewards, points and miles – are issued by the banks that partner with Visa. It’s no surprise the top providers do. Visa is the largest payment network in the world and the leader in global credit card volume year after year. Read on to learn more and find the best Visa credit card for you.
Comparing the best Visa credit cards
|Credit card:||Best for||Annual fee||Our rating|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card||Routine Southwest flyers||$69||4.1 / 5|
|Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa with No Annual Fee||Building credit||$0||3.2 / 5|
|Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa||Credit-building + rewards||$95||3.7 / 5|
|OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card||Low-interest + secured credit||$35||3.0 / 5|
|Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards||Automatic installment plan seekers||$0||3.0 / 5|
|Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit||Fast application||$75 first year, then $99 annually ($8.25 per month)||2.2 / 5|
|Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card||Hotels||$0||3.3 / 5|
Editor’s picks: Visa credit card details
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: Best for routine Southwest flyers
Why we picked it: This is a solid airline credit card, offering frequent Southwest flyers a generous sign-up bonus, a decent anniversary bonus, baggage fee waivers and bonus points on Southwest flights and purchases with the airline’s car rental and hotel partners.
Pros: You can earn points (1X) on non-airline purchases, and you redeem rewards for a variety of options, including airfare, gift cards, merchandise, car rentals, cruises and hotel stays.
Cons: Unlike many travel or airline credit cards, this card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, so it’s not suited for international travel. Southwest, in general, has limited options for international travel. You can only book rewards flights on Southwest; the airline does not have airline partners.
Who should apply? If you’re looking for a Southwest rewards credit card, but don’t want to shoulder a high annual fee, this card is your best bet as it charges the lowest annual fee ($69) in the Rapid Rewards line up.
Who should skip? This is a card for Southwest flyers, so if you don’t fly with the carrier, consider a different airline or general purpose travel card. If you fly Southwest more frequently, you might be better served by the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, which charges a higher annual fee in exchange for more generous benefits. Learn how to determine the right Southwest credit card for you.
Read our Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.
Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa with No Annual Fee: Best for building credit
Why we picked it: With the Credit One Bank Platinum Rewards Visa, you can track your credit score online with a free Experian credit report each month and have your account regularly reviewed for a credit limit increase. Also, there’s no penalty APR for a late payment and some lucrative rewards are available.
Pros: Enjoy 2% cash back on eligible purchases at grocery stores and gas stations, as well as cellphone, internet, and cable and satellite television services. Plus, through Credit One’s More Rewards program, the value of these rewards can be boosted by as much as 10% from participating merchants. Potential cardholders can also check for pre-qualification ahead of time to see if they’ll have access to things like zero fraud liability and a flexible payment schedule.
Cons: Although the $300 credit limit is meant to help new cardholders, this short limit could hurt your credit score through your utilization. Prioritizing good credit habits will give you the ability to increase your limit and help salvage your score in the long-term. Also, the card’s 23.99% (variable) APR is high, so it’s in cardholders’ best interest to avoid carrying a balance month to month.
Who should apply? Thanks to its well-rounded rewards and no annual fee, this is a great everyday-use card for anyone interested in earning cash back while growing credit. Check to prequalify ahead of time to avoid any harm on your credit score.
Who should skip? Someone with an established credit score and the ability to take their pick from a catalog of rewards cards would likely benefit more from another card.
Read our Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa with No Annual Fee review or jump back to this card’s offer details.
Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa: Best credit-building + rewards
Why we picked it: This Visa credit card carries a competitive cash back rewards program, particularly for people with fair credit. Cardholders receive 5% cash back on eligible gas, groceries, cell phone services, internet, and cable or satellite TV service purchases (on first $5,000 in spending per year, then 1%). They also get 1% cash back on general purchases.
Pros: You can check if you pre-qualify online. Cardholders get access to free monthly online credit score monitoring. You may qualify for a higher credit limit with consistent responsible use.
Cons: Your initial credit limit will be low: $500 minus the annual fee. The card carries a $95 annual fee, which can eat into rewards earnings. It also touts a high APR (variable 23.99%), no matter your credit history.
Who should apply? This card is an option if you’re looking for rewards, but can’t yet qualify for a top-tier rewards credit card. It’s also an option if you have fair credit and are looking for an unsecured (vs. secured) credit card.
Who should skip? Shoppers who truly want to take advantage of a cash back card with strong rates should check options elsewhere. This card only gives the bonus cash back rate on $5,000 worth of eligible purchases per year.
Read our Credit One Bank Platinum Rewards Visa review or jump back to this card’s offer details.
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card: Best for low-interest + secured credit
Why we picked it: For a secured card, this Visa credit card offers a particularly low interest rate (17.39% variable). Also, you can get started with a refundable upfront security deposit as little as $200 that serves as your credit limit.
Pros: The card’s $35 annual fee is also reasonable for this category. There’s no credit check to apply and all approved applicants will receive the same APR and credit limit range ($200 to $3,000). As such, your credit limit could be up to $3,000, if you have that much money to put down upfront.
Cons: Unlike some secured credit cards, the Open Sky Secured Visa Credit Card doesn’t offer a path to graduate to an unsecured credit card. There’s also a $10 monthly inactive account fee, so you’ll need to use the credit card until you’re ready to close it.
Who should apply? If you have bad credit and are concerned about carrying a balance from time to time, this low-interest secured credit card is an option. (Learn more about the best secured credit cards.)
Who should skip? Secured credit cards are designed to help people with no credit or bad credit build or rebuild their credit scores, so if you have good or even fair credit, you can likely qualify for a more flexible option.
Read our OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.
Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards: Best for automatic installment plan seekers
Why we picked it: This unique Visa card combines elements of a credit card with elements of a personal loan. Cardholders make purchases which are automatically rolled into an installment plan with a fixed monthly payment. You’re expected to pay the full balance back within a 12- to 60-month period at an interest rate between 8.99% to 29.99% (depending on your terms). This structure could spare you from overspending or underpaying your balance each month.
Pros: The card actually has a rewards program: You earn 1.5% cash back on card purchases every time you make a payment. It also doesn’t charge an annual fee, penalty fees or foreign transaction fees.
Cons: While many cardholders will enjoy a low APR, some may not, given the high-end of the APR range is variable 29.99%. If you don’t have a hard time keeping balances under control, you’re likely better served by a traditional cash back credit card. (Learn more about the best rewards credit cards.)
Who should apply? If you’ve struggled to manage your balances and make monthly payments in the past, this personal loan/credit card hybrid is an opportunity to rebuild your credit and show responsible payment behavior. It’s also a good option for someone looking to finance a large purchase and minimize the amount of interest they’ll pay.
Who should skip? Someone who wants a traditional credit card to start their credit-building journey or rebuild their score should look to other cards for limited credit.
Read our Upgrade Visa Card with Cash Rewards review or jump back to this card’s offer details.
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit: Best for fast application
Why we picked it: Not only does this card come with the ability to check if you prequalify on Credit One’s website, it accepts a generous range of credit scores (300 to 670) and doesn’t require a security deposit.
Pros: While there’s no set schedule, your account will be automatically reviewed for credit line increases – an essential when rebuilding credit thanks to the improved credit utilization. Another essential, you’ll have access to a free Experian credit score and report summary every month. Cardholders can also earn 1% cash back on eligible gas, grocery and phone service purchases.
Cons: The card features an annual fee of $75 for the first year, then $99 annually ($8.25 per month). Also, the card’s initial credit limit is low at just $300. If you were to carry a balance, you’d potentially face a high APR (23.99% variable).
Who should apply? With low requirements for approval, perks for credit building and cash back rewards, this is a good starter card for those trying to climb towards good or excellent credit.
Who should skip? If you have good or better credit, you can likely find a more valuable card with better rewards.
Read our Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit review or jump back to this card’s offer details.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card: Best for hotels
Why we picked it: Fans of the world’s largest hotel network will want to check in with this card, offering 3X points on purchases at Marriott Bonvoy properties, 2X points on travel purchases and 1X points on all other purchases. Cardholders can redeem points for a variety of hotel rewards and will also access a fast track to Marriott Silver Elite status, all while avoiding an annual fee.
Pros: The Marriott Bonvoy Bold will welcome you with open arms: New cardholders will earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 within the first three months of account opening, all with no annual fee. Plus, points can be combined with cash to pay for hotel stays, so earnings won’t sit idly and you won’t have to worry about meeting a minimum before redeeming. Additionally, the range of travel is wide with this card, as Marriott has destinations all over the world and the Visa network is accepted globally. To take advantage, points are transferable to more than 40 airline partners.
Cons: The rewards offered by the card aren’t as valuable as some other travel card options. Also, if you frequent other hotels outside of Marriott, a generic travel card could be a more useful addition to your wallet. Despite an array of redemption options for your points, hotel stays are the only worthwhile choice from a value standpoint.
Who should apply? If you tend to stay with Marriott, this could be a great choice for you. There’s no annual fee and a slew of hotel perks.
Who should skip? Travelers who love to explore city to city but don’t have any loyalty to Marriott should look to more general travel rewards cards.
Read our Marriott Bonvoy Bold review.
What is Visa?
Launched in 1958, Visa is a card payment network, which processes the transactions between merchants and financial institutions.
The biggest of the four major credit card networks, Visa dominates the credit card market share, followed by Mastercard, American Express and Discover. Unlike the Discover and American Express networks, Visa and Mastercard don’t issue their own cards. Instead, they partner with banks, such as Chase and Capital One, who use the card payment networks to process payments.
The lucrative perks that attract people to credit cards come from the banks. Visa does offer a range of benefits, but the sign-up bonuses; 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers; and cash back, gas, and travel rewards are determined by the banks. And while the Visa logo carries a lot of power, it’s actually the banks that approve or decline your credit card application. They also set your credit card limit and interest rates and report your credit history to the credit bureaus.
Luckily, Visa’s long-standing reputation has allowed them to partner with some of the top card issuers in the world. These partnerships have resulted in high-end sign-up bonuses, rewards offers, credit-building perks, travel benefits and more, creating some of the best cards on the market.
Where is Visa accepted?
Visa cards are accepted in more than 200 territories and countries worldwide at more than 44 million merchants. According to Visa rules and policy there are countrywide prohibitions in countries such as Iran, Sudan and Syria due to U.S. sanctions and other laws. Otherwise, Visa cards are accepted at most places and can be used on almost any purchase, including when checking out at Costco – a luxury exclusive to Visa.
What credit score is needed for a Visa credit card?
Visa has options for everyone no matter their credit score. Some of the top choices for Visa credit cards are secured cards and cards to rebuild your credit, allowing for lower-than-usual credit scores and creating the opportunity to grow your score with regular payments. Even those with limited or no credit have a path to take with Visa cards.
There are also Visa credit cards for higher credit ranges, giving cardholders strong rewards rates, travel perks, generous welcome offers and depending on your type of card, several further benefits. If your credit score isn’t there yet, improving your score with one of Visa’s credit-building options is a great route to future savings.
What are Visa credit card benefits?
Visa credit card benefits come with three levels: Traditional, Signature or Infinite. It’ll cost a bit more to access the top level of Visa’s benefits tiers, but for the right cardholder it could be well worth the price.
As you increase tiers, you’ll be granted access to a new slew of benefits and programs at each level that can help you as you make purchases or take trips and can even get you out of a sticky situation. Just make sure to check with your card issuer (the bank that partners with Visa) because benefits may vary.
Let’s take a look at each tier.
Despite being the basic tier, Visa credit cards that come with the Traditional tier of benefits offer a number of underrated features that can make your life easier and help you save money.
Zero liability protection: Cardholders with a traditional Visa credit card aren’t liable for unauthorized transactions made with their Visa card. When it comes to using credit cards vs. debit cards, this level of consumer protection is one of the main reasons why credit cards are usually the preferred form of payment.
Cardholder inquiry services: Visa Global Customer Care Services is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide personalized support.
Roadside dispatch: Don’t want to pay a yearly fee for AAA membership? Roadside Dispatch is a pay-per-use roadside assistance program. Call 1-800-847-2869, and for a set price per service call (currently $69.95 for standard service call), Roadside Dispatch will arrange for a number of services, including towing, locksmith, tire change, and fuel delivery.
Emergency card replacement or cash disbursement: Can’t find your card? Visa has you covered with their lost or stolen card reporting. Whether it was lost, stolen or damaged, Visa’s emergency card replacement service can have a new card sent to you within three business days (following bank approval). Or Visa can have cash sent to a location near you within hours of bank approval.
Discounts at numerous businesses, including:
- Under Armour: Save 10% on your orders.
- Preferred Hotels & Resorts: Get 10% off and a complimentary daily breakfast for two.
- Fanatics.com: Get 20% off and free shipping on orders of $49+.
- GlassesUSA.com: Save $30 and get free shipping on purchases over $120.
- Green Chef: Get $100 off the first four boxes from this meal kit delivery service.
- Hertz: Save up to 25% off base rates.
- Horizon Fitness: Save $100 off orders of $999 or more.
- Intuit Turbotax: Up to $20 off this best-selling tax software.
- Shipt: One month free membership and then three months of membership at 50% off, with free delivery on orders of $35 and more.
Visa Traditional credit cards include:
The Visa Signature line of cards have all the features found with the Visa Traditional cards but go even further to include:
Travel and emergency assistance services: Visa Signature cardholders have access to assistance and referral services when traveling away from home. Services include medical and legal referral assistance, lost luggage locator, and prescription assistance. And in the event of an emergency, service also includes message service, transportation assistance, ticket replacement, and translation services.
Visa Signature Luxury Hotel collection: Visa Signature credit cards come with premium benefits at over 900 luxury hotels around the world. Perks include VIP guest status, $25 USD food and beverage credit and automatic room upgrade upon arrival (when available).
Rental car privileges: Silvercar by Audi offers an app-based, contactless, premium car rental service. They’ll even deliver the car to you. Use your Visa Signature card and receive 15% off.
Concierge: Need reservations made? Looking for a special gift? Or maybe you need help planning a vacation. Visa Signature concierge service gives you 24/7 access to concierge representatives who will assist you in your travel, dining, entertainment, or personal assistance needs.
Extended warranty protection: This provides added protection to eligible purchases by adding one year to eligible warranties of three years or less.
Auto rental collision damage waiver: When you rent a vehicle with your Visa Signature credit card, you’ll get coverage for physical damage, theft, towing and loss-of-use charges. Just make sure to decline the collision damage waiver coverage that the rental agency offers.
Global Entry statement credit: Receive a $100 statement credit when you pay the application fee for Global Entry using your Visa Signature card.
But the perks don’t stop there. Visa Signature credit cards can go even further with their travel and purchase protections to include:
- Trip delay reimbursement
- Trip cancellation / trip interruption reimbursement
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Airline incidental fees
- Travel accident insurance
- Lounge access (Priority Pass™)
- Baggage delay reimbursement
- Hotel theft protection
- Cell phone protection
- Emergency medical / dental
- Price protection
- Emergency evacuation
- Return protection
- Purchase security
Visa Signature credit cards include:
Infinite is the highest tier and comes with the most perks. But these Visa credit cards come with annual fees that can top $400. In addition to the same perks found with the Traditional and Signature cards, Visa Infinite credit cards up the ante by providing enhanced coverage and perks in the following areas:
- Lounge Access (Priority Pass®): Visa Infinite cardholders get access to hundreds of more locations than Visa Signature credit cards.
- Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection: This perk goes beyond the Visa Signature luxury hotel benefits and offers an additional complimentary benefit that could be an enhanced food and beverage credit or a $100 spa, golf, or room rate credit.
- Visa Infinite car rental privileges: A Visa Infinite credit card gives you access to discounts and perks from Avis, Hertz, National and Silvercar.
- Return Protection: If a merchant won’t accept a return, Visa Infinite cardholders can still return an item up to $300 in value ($250 for Visa Signature cardholders).
- Trip delay reimbursement: Trip delayed more than six hours due to a covered hazard? Visa Infinite cardholders can get $500 (only $300 for Visa Signature credit cards).
Visa Infinite credit cards include:
What programs does Visa offer?
In addition to the benefits and exclusive offers that come at the Visa Traditional, Signature and Infinite tiers, Visa has a couple of worthwhile card-linked programs to keep in mind:
- Visa Savings Edge: Available with Visa business cards, this program grants cardholders access to deals on a variety of things. You can save on hotel stays, car rentals, business equipment, auto parts, electronics and at restaurants. Your savings can stack automatically thanks to Everyday Offers and you can take advantage of limited-time discounts for a little extra earnings.
- Visa Local Offers with Uber: When linking your debit or credit card to your Uber account, you can get automatic cash back at select dining and retail stores through this Visa program.
How to choose a Visa credit card
To find the right Visa credit card for you, start by taking a look at your credit score, lifestyle, and the features important to you to get a broad idea of what you want out of a credit card. Our CardMatch feature can help narrow down the options based on your credit profile and make the decision easier. When comparing Visa cards, pay attention to:
- The level of Visa credit card benefits: Visa cards basically come in three tiers: Traditional, Signature or Infinite. The Signature cards have all the benefits of the Traditional card plus more. The Infinite cards have all the benefits of the lower level cards in addition to perks available only at that level.
- The card issuer’s benefits: While Visa has their selection of nice add-ons, you might find something that truly catches your eye when looking through the issuer’s benefits.
- The annual fee: The card issuer may impose an annual fee, but it might be worth your while, depending on which Visa tier it has and what rewards the issuer offers.
Is a Visa credit card worth it?
No matter what type of credit card you’re after, Visa has an option for you. And like most credit cards, when used responsibly, they provide a convenient form of payment that’s safer than carrying cash or using a debit card. Depending on the card, the built-in protections and features that come with Visa credit cards can add value to your wallet and your life. Factor in the potential sign-up bonuses, cash back rewards and other valuable perks offered by the financial institutions that partner with Visa, and you can see why so many people choose to carry Visa credit cards.
How we picked the best Visa credit cards
Methodology: We analyzed Visa’s suite of cards to identify its top products in popular credit card categories. Core criteria we considered in our search include:
- Credit-building perks: With multiple cards designed for less-than-stellar credit, we found the top benefits to help cardholders grow their score.
- Base rewards program: Does the card’s base rewards program offer a competitive return on spending for its card category (cash back, travel, business, etc.)?
- Benefits tier: Does the card fall in the Traditional, Signature or Infinite tier? Wherever the card qualifies makes a substantial difference in additional benefits.
- Annual fee: Does the card carry an annual fee? Some Visa cards do, so we assessed whether that fee could be offset by the card’s rewards program, welcome offer and any additional benefits.
- Travel perks: With their global acceptance and cards geared for travelers, we made sure we found the Visa cards with the top travel opportunities.
Additional information on Visa credit cards
To learn more on all things Visa credit cards, continue reading content from our credit card experts: