AMEX-and-VISA-creditcards

American Express vs VISA Credit Cards

Information verified correct on December 4th, 2016

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

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 December 4th, 2016
Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee
American Express Essential Credit Card
Receive a $50 credit on eligible spend and get Smartphone screen insurance combined with a no annual fee for life card. Also enjoy a 0% p.a. balance transfer rate for 12 months.
14.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee $0 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Explorer Credit Card
Receive 100,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points on eligible spend within the first 2 months of Card Membership. Also enjoy a $400 travel voucher and two complimentary airline passes per year.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee $395 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
Receive 10,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points when you meet the minimum spend requirement. Enjoy a $200 travel credit every year and get 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee $195 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Qantas Ultimate Card
Enjoy up to 100,000 bonus Qantas Points on eligible spend, earn up to 3 Qantas Points for every $1 spent and get a free return flight every year.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee $450 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Velocity Platinum Card
Enjoy up to 50,000 bonus Velocity Points when you meet the minimum required spend and earn up to 3 rewards points per dollar spent. Also receive a complimentary return flight every year.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee $349 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Velocity Escape Card
Enjoy 7,500 bonus Velocity Points when you meet the minimum spend requirement and earn up to 2 points for every $1 you spend, together with a $0 annual fee.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee $0 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Qantas Premium Card
Earn as much as 30,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the minimum spend requirement. Enjoy frequent flyer benefits including uncapped Qantas Points per $1 spent, complimentary travel insurance and Qantas Club lounge invitations.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee $249 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Qantas Discovery Card
Enjoy up to 7,500 bonus Qantas Frequent Flyer Points and 1 point per $1 spent, plus 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months, all for a $0 annual fee.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee $0 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Platinum Card
Receive 100,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points when you meet the minimum spend requirement and earn up to 3 points per dollar spent. Gain access to travel insurance, $300 Platinum Travel Credit every year and access to 900 VIP airport lounges.
$1,200 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Gold Business Card
Keep track of your business expenses with a dedicated business credit card. Your account details can be uploaded in to MYOB, Excel or Quicken to help with BAS reporting.
$169 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Velocity Business Card
A truly dedicated business rewards credit card. Download all your card expenses in a format readable by Quicken, MYOB, Microsoft Excel and more, helping you simplify your quarterly BAS reporting.
$249 p.a. Go to site More info
David Jones American Express
Receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points and earn up to 3 Rewards points for every dollar spent on everyday item and access exclusive in-store benefits to David Jones cardholders.
20.74% p.a. $99 p.a. Go to site More info
David Jones American Express Platinum Card
Receive 40,000 Membership Rewards points or 30,000 Qantas Points. Plus earn up to 4 rewards point per $1 spend.
20.74% p.a. $295 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Business Card
Earn up to 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on eligible purchases.
$109 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Platinum Business Card
Provides easy tracking and management of business expenses - reporting meets ATO requirements. Dedicated Platinum Business Concierge to assist you day-to-day.
$1,500 p.a. Go to site More info
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VISA Credit Cards

Pros and Cons

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 December 4th, 2016
Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
Receive a full annual fee refund and save $149 if you meet the $6,000 spend requirement. Enjoy a balance transfer offer and platinum card benefits such as complimentary insurances and concierge services.
19.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 15 months $149 p.a. Go to site More info
NAB Qantas Rewards Premium Card - Exclusive Offer
Get 75,000 bonus Qantas Points plus enjoy a low promotional offer of 4.99% p.a. for 6 months on balance transfers.
19.99% p.a. 4.99% p.a. for 6 months $250 p.a. Go to site More info
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
Offering 0% p.a. interest rate on balance transfers for 18 months. Earn bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 18 months $64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
NAB Low Rate Credit Card
The NAB Low Rate Card offers 0% p.a. on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. This card also comes with a low annual fee.
0% p.a. for 15 months (reverts to 13.99% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 15 months with a one off 3% balance transfer fee $59 p.a. Go to site More info
St.George Vertigo Visa
Introductory offer of 0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers and 1% p.a. for 12 months on purchases, plus a low annual fee.
1% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 13.24% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 18 months $55 p.a. Go to site More info
NAB Low Fee Card
Enjoy a low annual fee plus a low introductory offer of 0% p.a. for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers.
0% p.a. for 15 months (reverts to 19.74% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 15 months with a one off 3% balance transfer fee $30 p.a. Go to site More info
Virgin No Annual Fee Credit Card
$0 annual fee credit card with $100 cashback and a long term low rate balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee. Spend criteria applies for cashback offer.
18.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee $0 p.a. Go to site More info
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points on eligible spend within 3 months. Enjoy access to premium benefits and complimentary insurance.
19.99% p.a. $199 p.a. Go to site More info
St.George Vertigo Platinum
A platinum card with a balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for 18 months and an introductory purchase offer of 1% p.a. for 12 months with an annual fee waiver for the first year.
1% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 12.74% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 18 months $99 p.a. Go to site More info
Westpac Low Rate Card
A no frills credit card with an introductory rate of 0% p.a. for 16 months on balance transfers and 1% p.a. for 12 months on purchases.
1% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 13.49% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 16 months $59 p.a. Go to site More info
ANZ Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
Receive a low introductory offer of 0% p.a. on purchases for 3 months and 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months. Also, enjoy an annual fee waiver in the first year.
0% p.a. for 3 months (reverts to 19.74% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 12 months $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
ANZ First Visa Credit Card
Enjoy 0% p.a. balance transfer rate for the first 18 months, a low annual fee, interest-free days on purchases and a low minimum credit limit.
19.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 18 months with 3% balance transfer fee $30 p.a. Go to site More info
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa Credit Card
Enjoy a low annual fee combined with 0% p.a. balance transfer offer for 18 months and 1% p.a. for up to 12 months on purchases.
1% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 13.24% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 18 months $55 p.a. Go to site More info
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Platinum
A platinum card with a low balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. interest for 18 months and 1% p.a. for 12 months on purchases combined with complimentary insurance covers.
1% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 12.74% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 18 months $99 p.a. Go to site More info
Citi Rewards Credit Card - Platinum Card
Consolidate your debt with a low balance transfer offer and a host of platinum privileges.
20.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 24 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee $199 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($249 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
ANZ Frequent Flyer Platinum
The ANZ Frequent Flyer Platinum Credit Card allows you to maximise your Qantas Frequent flyer points on everyday purchases. Earn up to 1.5 Qantas Frequent Flyer points per $1 spent on purchases, get 50,000 Qantas Points when you spend $2,500 on eligible purchases for the first three months from card approval and enjoy a waived annual fee for the first year.
19.99% p.a. $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($295 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
BankSA Vertigo Visa
One of the cheapest credit cards that currently offers low introductory balance transfer rate.
1% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 13.24% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 18 months $55 p.a. Go to site More info
ANZ Frequent Flyer
Receive 25,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online, are approved and spend $2,500 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months. Plus enjoy a waived annual fee for the first year.
19.99% p.a. $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($95 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
Citi Clear Platinum Card
Visa Concierge Service, complimentary purchase cover and a long term balance transfer option.
0% p.a. for 9 months (reverts to 14.99% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 9 months $99 p.a. Go to site More info
Citi Rewards Platinum Card - Cashback Offer
Earn $250 cashback on eligible spend, plus enjoy 0% p.a. balance transfer offer for 12 months, discounted annual fees for the life of the card and a complimentary travel insurance.
20.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months $99 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($199 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
Citi Qantas Signature Credit Card
Earn up to 50,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $2,000 or more on eligible purchases in the first 90 days. Plus, enjoy introductory interest rates on balance transfers and purchases with a discounted annual fee of $199 in the first year.
20.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 6 months $199 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
Citi Simplicity Card
Pay no annual fee for life ever and enjoy a low balance transfer rate of 0% p.a. for 9 months.
19.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 9 months $0 p.a. Go to site More info
BankSA Vertigo Platinum
Enjoy 0% balance transfer rate for 18 months and 1% purchase rate for 12 months if you apply and are approved by 4 January 2017.
1% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 12.74% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 18 months $99 p.a. Go to site More info
Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer Card - 30k Bonus Points offer
Receive 30,000 bonus Velocity Points and earn 1 Velocity Points per $1 spent. Receive an exclusive $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher and two complimentary Single Entry Virgin Australia domestic Lounge passes each year.
20.74% p.a. 1.9% p.a. for 15 months $144 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($289 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
ANZ Platinum Credit Card
Enjoy platinum card benefits with $0 annual fee in the first year and complimentary overseas travel and medical insurance.
19.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 18 months with 3% balance transfer fee $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
ANZ Low Rate
$100 Back plus 0% p.a. for the first 6 months on purchases from approval.
0% p.a. for 6 months (reverts to 13.49% p.a.) $58 p.a. Go to site More info
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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.

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