AMEX-and-VISA-creditcards

American Express vs VISA Credit Cards

Information verified correct on May 24th, 2017

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 May 24th, 2017
Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
Fly faster with up to 2.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent and receive a complimentary Qantas domestic return Economy 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 Essential®  Credit Card
A no annual fee card that collects up to 1 Membership Rewards point for every $1 spent.
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
Earn up to 2 Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent and receive a $400 Travel Credit every 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
Earn up to 3 Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent and receive a $200 Travel Credit every year.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($195 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
American Express Velocity Platinum Card
Take off sooner with up to 2.5 Velocity Points per $1 spent and receive a complimentary Virgin Australia return domestic flight every year.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee $375 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Velocity Escape Card
Take off sooner with up to 2 Velocity Points per $1 spent and pay $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
Qantas American Express Premium Card
Fly faster with up to 2.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent and receive complimentary domestic and international travel insurance.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee $249 p.a. Go to site More info
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
Fly faster with up to 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent and enjoy the convenience of Apply Pay, Samsung Pay or Android Pay.
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
Earn up to 3 Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent and receive complimentary access for you and a guest to over 1,000 VIP Lounges.
$1,200 p.a. Go to site More info
David Jones American Express
Earn up to 3 Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent and receive a range of in-store benefits at David Jones.
20.74% p.a. $99 p.a. Go to site More info
David Jones American Express Platinum Card
Earn 4 Reward Points per $1 spent at David Jones and receive invitations to exclusive Season Launch Parades, fashion events and more.
20.74% p.a. $295 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Business Card
Earn up to 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent and extend your cash flow up to 51 days.
$109 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Platinum Business Card
Earn up to 2 Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent and extend your cash flow up to 51 days.
$1,500 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Velocity Business Card
Take off sooner with up to 2 Velocity Points per $1 spent and take up to 51 days to pay for your purchases.
$249 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Gold Business Card
Earn up to 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent and extend your cash flow up to 51 days.
$169 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 May 24th, 2017
Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
Earn 1 Reward Point per $1 spent and receive an annual fee refund with minimum spend.
19.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 22 months with 2% balance transfer fee $99 p.a. Go to site More info
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Exclusive Offer
Take advantage of 0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers without a BT fee. Plus, receive a $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year.
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 Fee Card
Enjoy a low annual fee plus a low introductory offer of 0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers.
19.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 18 months with 3% balance transfer fee $30 p.a. Go to site More info
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
Fly faster with up to 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent and receive bonus Qantas Points on selected Qantas products, services and partners.
19.99% p.a. $199 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 Frequent Flyer Platinum
Get rewarded with 50,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $2,500 on eligible purchases for the first three months from card approval and maximise your points on everyday purchases. Also 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
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, earn up to 0.5 points for every dollar spent, 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
Visa Concierge Service, complimentary purchase cover and a low interest rate on purchases.
14.99% p.a. $99 p.a. Go to site More info
Citi Qantas Signature Credit Card
Fly faster with up to 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent and receive a complimentary Priority Pass membership.
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
Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer Card - 30k Bonus Points offer
Take off sooner with up to 1 Velocity Point per $1 spent and receive 30,000 Bonus Velocity Points.
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
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa Credit Card
Save with 13.24% p.a. on purchases. Also enjoy up to 55 days interest-free.
13.24% p.a. 0% p.a. for 14 months $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Platinum
Save with 12.74% p.a. on purchases. Also enjoy up to 55 days interest-free.
12.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 20 months $99 p.a. Go to site More info
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Signature
Earn up to 3 Amplify Rewards Points per $1 spent and receive an additional card at no extra cost.
19.49% p.a. $279 p.a. Go to site More info
St.George Vertigo Platinum
Save with 12.74% p.a. on purchases. Also enjoy Visa Platinum Concierge service.
12.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 20 months $99 p.a. Go to site More info
St.George Vertigo Visa
Save with 13.24% p.a. on purchases. Also enjoy up to 55 days interest-free.
13.24% p.a. 0% p.a. for 14 months $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum
Earn up to 2 Amplify Rewards Points per $1 spent and receive complimentary travel insurance.
19.49% p.a. $99 p.a. Go to site More info
St.George Amplify Platinum
Earn up to 2 Amplify Rewards Points per $1 spent and receive complimentary overseas travel insurance.
19.49% p.a. $99 p.a. Go to site More info
St.George Amplify Signature
Earn up to 3 Amplify Rewards Points per $1 spent and receive two complimentary airport lounge passes per year.
19.49% p.a. $279 p.a. Go to site More info
BankSA Vertigo Platinum
Save with 12.74% p.a. on purchases. Also enjoy travel insurance.
12.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 14 months $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 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.
13.24% p.a. 0% p.a. for 14 months $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit 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 $49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 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 6 months.
19.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 6 months $0 p.a. 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 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee $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 16 months, a low annual fee, interest-free days on purchases and a low minimum credit limit.
19.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee $30 p.a. Go to site More info
NAB Low Rate Credit Card
Save with 13.99% p.a. on purchases. Also enjoy special offers from Visa Entertainment.
13.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 18 months with 3% balance transfer fee $59 p.a. Go to site More info
NAB Premium Card
Long-term balance transfer rate with complimentary overseas travel insurance.
19.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 24 months with 3% balance transfer fee $90 p.a. Go to site More info
Virgin Money Low Rate Credit Card
Save with 11.99% p.a. on purchases. Also enjoy the protection of Fraudshield.
11.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months $99 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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