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American Express vs VISA Credit Cards

There are both good and bad things to be said when you look at American Express and Visa cards, but in the end you will have to make a decision based on what features you need from a card.

If you own a credit card, you’ve probably
noticed that there are cards featuring the American Express logo, along with cards that have the Visa logo. In a lot of cases, credit card providers offer these cards with a rewards program. There are Visa cards in the market that earn a decent amount of reward points, but American Express scheme cards tend to earn the most points.

Things to consider when comparing American Express and VISA Credit Cards

  • Points earning, capping and expiry. If you’re saving to earn big ticket items such as flights then it’s important to ensure that your points don’t expire before you accumulate enough. Similarly, points capping could be a problem if you spend a lot, so could limit your earning potential.
  • Annual fee. Amex cards have an annual fee that run between $50 and $500 per year however, they do run promotions that will waive the annual fee during the first year. Many Visa cards come with no annual fee, but some of their credit cards charge a $500 annual fee.
  • Interest rates. American Express usually offers about eight different cards and generally charges an interest rate between 14% to 20%. Visa cards can come with either a variable or a fixed interest rate and can range anywhere from 6% to 25%. American Express cards usually charge a higher interest rate than Visa cards.
  • Customer service. Both Visa and American Express has a reputation for its customer service, 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 for the card. However, it’s important to understand the terms and conditions before you apply.

American Express Credit Cards

AMEX logo

Pros:

  • Much higher points earning
  • Indicates your financial status

Cons:

  • Less accepted than Visa
  • Surcharges could apply (according to the RBA, around two-thirds of merchants do not surcharge)
  • The surcharges to use American Express could hinder any rewards value you earn
  • Eligibility criteria is more strict that Visa
  • Generally a higher interest rate

Comparison of American Express Credit Cards

Rates last updated September 21st, 2018
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
American Express Velocity Platinum Card - Exclusive Offer
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$375 p.a.
finder Exclusive: Ends 26 September 2018 Receive 70,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. Plus, Status Credits & lounge passes.
American Express Explorer Credit Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$395 p.a.
Get 75,000 bonus Membership Rewards points, a yearly $400 Travel Credit and 2 entries per year to the American Express Lounge. Ends 26 Sept 2018.
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$450 p.a.
Receive 55,000 bonus Qantas Points, a $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year and 2 yearly complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations.
American Express Velocity Escape Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Velocity Points on purchases, pay $0 annual fee for life and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Qantas Points on purchases, pay $0 annual fee for life and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle - Qantas
20.24% p.a.
$50 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($249 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 75,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the criteria with this dual Visa (issued & serviced by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$195 p.a.
Receive a yearly $200 Travel Credit and complimentary domestic and international travel insurance, plus 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers.
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle
20.24% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($199 p.a. thereafter)
$0 first year annual fee & up to 75,000 bonus Altitude Pts when you meet T&C with this Visa (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
American Express Essential Credit Card
14.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 3% balance transfer fee
$0 p.a.
Get Smartphone Screen Insurance of up to $500 when you pay for your phone or contract with this card. Plus, a $0 annual fee for life.
American Express Velocity Business Card
$249 p.a.
Take advantage of Velocity Points per $1 spent, no pre-set spending limit, data that feeds into MYOB and up to 51 days interest-free on purchases.

Compare up to 4 providers

VISA Credit Cards

visa logo

Pros:

  • More accepted than American Express
  • Barely any surcharges
  • Quite flexible eligibility criteria
  • Generally a lower interest rate

Cons:

  • Less points earning

Comparison of VISA Credit Cards

Rates last updated September 21st, 2018
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
Citi Clear Platinum Credit Card
12.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 14 months
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Offers a 0% p.a. for 14 months balance transfer and $0 first year annual fee. Plus, insurance covers and Citibank Dining Program perks.
ANZ Low Rate
12.49% p.a.
0% p.a. for 15 months
$58 p.a.
Save with a 0% p.a. introductory rate on balance transfers for 15 months with no BT fee. Plus a low 12.49% p.a. interest rate on purchases.
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
12.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 25 months
$99 p.a.
Save with 0% p.a. interest for up to 25 months on balance transfers with no BT fee. Plus, platinum perks, including overseas travel insurance.
Citi Simplicity Card
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 15 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 p.a.
Save with 5% cashback on eligible purchases (capped at $50 per month) for the first 90 days from approval. Plus, a 15 month balance transfer offer.
Westpac Low Rate Card
13.49% p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($59 p.a. thereafter)
Offers a 0% for 24 month balance transfer option, first year annual fee waiver and a competitive purchase rate.
Suncorp Clear Options Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months
$99 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
finder Exclusive: Receive a long 18-month, 0% p.a., no fee balance transfer and earn Suncorp Rewards Points or Qantas Points per $1 spent.
Citi Clear Platinum - Exclusive Offer
14.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
finder Exclusive: Receive 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers and a discounted annual fee in the first year. Plus, access to Citi World Privileges.
NAB Low Fee Platinum Card
19.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
$90 p.a.
Offers 7 complimentary insurance covers, a 0% p.a. for 24 month balance transfer and access to a 24/7 concierge service for a $90 p.a. annual fee.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 2% balance transfer fee
$129 p.a.
Offers a 0% p.a. for 22 months balance transfer and an annual fee refund each year when you spend $6,000. Plus, 2 airport lounge passes every year.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - 0% Interest Offer
0% p.a. for 14 months (reverts to 20.74% p.a.)
0% p.a. for 6 months
$129 p.a.
Enjoy 0% p.a. interest on purchases for 14 months. Plus, the chance to earn 1 million Velocity Points. Ends 31 Oct 2018.

Compare up to 4 providers

AMEX and VISA cards inside wallet

American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum vs VISA Westpac Altitude Platinum

American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum
  • Monthly spend of $5000
  • Equivalent to $1000 in flights rewards per annum

Visa Westpac Altitude Platinum

  • Monthly spend of $5000
  • Equivalent to $319 in flights rewards per annum

If you spent $5000 per month on each of these cards, the American Express returns over $1,000 in flights rewards per year , whereas the Visa only returns $129 per annum. This shows that even though American Express has more disadvantages than Visa, it has a much higher points return.

The verdict

Your shopping habits should indicate what card would be suitable for you. 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 and Visa, you may be able to get a companion card. Having both Visa or Mastercard and American Express means that you can use either of them as much as possible, earning more points. Whenever a surcharge applies for American Express, you can use the Visa or Mastercard.

Black Cards

When you are considering American Express vs Visa, don’t forget to take a look at their Black cards. It is a sign of distinction to be able to use a Black card in public, and a dream come true for many when they receive the invite in the mail. 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.

The differences are quite vast when you compare American Express vs Visa, and you will have to consider what kind of extra features are on each card in order to make your final choice. They are both solid cards and if you really can’t decide between the two you may want to consider getting one of each.

Images: Shutterstock, VISA, and AMEXBack to top

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Credit Card Offers

Important Information*
Citi Clear Platinum Credit Card

Interest rate

12.99

Annual fee

0*

*$99 p.a. after first year

Westpac Altitude Platinum Card - Qantas

Interest rate

20.24

Annual fee

50*

*$200 p.a. after first year

ANZ Low Rate

Interest rate

12.49

Annual fee

58

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