Amex, Visa or Mastercard credit cards: How to choose
American Express cards tend to earn more points but Visa and Mastercard are more widely accepted. Here's what to compare before you apply.
When deciding on a new credit card, you might be more interested in the name of the institution than the card issuer, but choosing between Amex and Visa or Mastercard can make a lot of difference.
In general, Amex tends to offer better rewards than many Visa or Mastercard credit cards. However, they aren't accepted in as many places worldwide.
Things to consider when comparing American Express, Mastercard and Visa credit cards
- Points earning, capping and expiry. Compare rewards features to ensure your points don't run out before you use them or you're limited in how much you can earn.
- Annual fee. Each card issuer has varying annual fees on different cards, from no annual fees to $500 per year. Some cards will also have introductory offers.
- Interest rates. Amex, Visa and Mastercard will offer various low rate cards, but you should balance these against their annual fee.
- Customer service. Visa and Mastercard offer concierge services to support some of their customers. Take a look at what else they offer.
- Complimentary insurance. All 3 card issuers offer benefits like complimentary insurance and extended warranty. However, it’s important to understand the terms and conditions before you apply.
Which card is most widely accepted?
Many retailers will not accept Amex-issued credit cards, thanks to higher merchant fees. While all card issuers will charge fees as part of the cost of moving money between banks, Amex charges considerably more. Many retailers will add a higher surcharge to Amex users, but many others simply won't accept the credit cards.
Visa and Mastercard, on the other hand, are generally accepted worldwide anywhere you can use a credit card to pay for something.
How to compare Amex, Visa and Mastercard
|Feature||Amex card||Visa / Mastercard|
|Rewards||Higher earn rate and more bonus points||Lower earn rate|
|Fees||Higher than average||Average|
|Interest rate||Higher than average||Average|
|Surcharges||More common and higher than Visa||Lower than American Express|
|Eligibility criteria||Stricter than the average Visa||Varies widely by bank|
|Acceptance||Less widely accepted||Accepted pretty much worldwide|
|Other||Often a status symbol||Many card options available|
Can you get a virtual/digital card?
Loading your credit card onto your mobile wallet depends on the financial institution and type of card, rather than the card issuer. American Express cards are generally accepted on Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.
Most Visa and Mastercard credit cards are accepted on at least 1 of the 3 options, but you need to check with each credit card provider.
Some credit card providers will also provide virtual credit cards as soon as your credit card application has been approved, so that you can begin spending straight away without waiting for a physical card.
Compare Amex, Visa and Mastercard credit cards
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