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
Pros and Cons
- Much higher points earning
- Indicates your financial status
- 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
VISA Credit Cards
Pros and Cons
- More accepted than American Express
- Barely any surcharges
- Quite flexible eligibility criteria
- Generally a lower interest rate
- Less points earning
Comparison of VISA Credit Cards
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum vs VISA Westpac Altitude PlatinumAmerican 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.
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.
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.