Visa is a giant in the financial services world. As of 2019, it has directly issued credit cards to more than 320 million consumers worldwide. The actual number of Visa cardholders is much higher if you count cards issued by third-party financial institutions. As you might expect from a company with such a large customer base, Visa offers a great deal of choice when it comes to credit card features. Many of its financial products are specifically designed for certain consumer segments. If you are a student, first-time cardholder, frequent traveler, and trying to rebuild your credit, there’s a Visa product tailored for you.
Generalizing about the relative merits of Visa credit cards is difficult. Some types of cards are ideal for certain consumer bases, but wouldn’t appeal to others. In putting together this list, we looked for a strong combination of features that optimize user rewards while minimizing their costs.
Here are our eight picks for the top Visa credit cards of 2019.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
As we combed through list after list of the best Visa credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card recurred again and again. This card, offered by Chase Bank, delivers a whopping 60,000 welcome points. You just have to spend $4,000 or more within their first three months. Many sources cite this card as the one that launched the current points and miles craze in the credit card industry. With a bonus like that, it’s not hard to see why.
On top of that amazing bonus, cardholders also earn double rewards for travel and restaurant spending. You can also redeem your points through Chase’s travel portal, which enhances their value by as much as 25%. Other perks include fantastic insurance protections for travelers and no-cost foreign transactions. You get all that for an annual fee of just $95. Amazing!
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
A close cousin of the Sapphire Preferred card, the Sapphire Reserved entry delivers 50,000 bonus reward points. Again, you have to spend $4,000 or more during the first three months. If you’ve been meaning to make a major purchase, hold off until you become a cardholder. Then pull the trigger to nab this amazing reward. You’ll also triple your points when you use the card to pay for travel expenses and dining. Chase is noted for having generous definitions for both categories.
You might balk at the card’s $450 annual fee, but you should know that you automatically qualify for $300 a year in travel credits. Use that money for rideshares, taxi fares, hotel stays, plane tickets, baggage fees, or any other qualified expense. If you take advantage of the perks properly, the annual fee ends up being much less.
Chase Ink Business Preferred Card
If you’re a business owner looking for more bang for your credit card buck, it’s time you met the Chase Ink Business Preferred card. By spending $5,000 on business purchases during your first three months as a cardholder, you’ll automatically get an incredible bonus of 80,000 points. According to one valuation, that offer carries an approximate value of $1,600. That represents 32% of the $5,000 spending requirement.
For a $95 annual fee, cardholders also get free supplementary cards for trusted employees, free mobile phone insurance, and free out-of-country transactions. You’ll also earn triple points for the first $150,000 per year you spend on business travel, utilities, digital advertising, and product shipping.
Capital One Spark Cash Visa Card
Here’s another great option for business owners. The Capital One Spark Cash Visa card is simple, straightforward, and appealing to entrepreneurs. It delivers 2% cash back on all purchases in all categories. That’s it. No points to track, no categories to cross-reference, no complicated conditions or exclusions to navigate. It also comes with a $0 fee for the first year, which rises to $95 afterwards. However, just $4,750 in spending covers the annual fee. That gives you the opportunity to get 2% off on basically everything you use the card to buy after that.
Capital One Venture Rewards Card
This appealing travel rewards Visa delivers in a big way. Especially if you make $3,000 or more in purchases during your first three months of membership. Hit that milestone and Capital One will hand you 50,000 bonus miles. From there, you’ll earn miles at a 2:1 clip for every dollar you spend. That increased to an amazing 10:1 rate when you book hotel stays through a special Capital One link.
The Capital One Venture Rewards card also supports a rare feature. It gives $100 off when you use it to pay for your TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee. There’s a $95 fee, but you won’t have to worry about it for a while since Capital One waives it for your first year.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card
We weren’t able to find another hotel-branded credit card that offered the awesome perks and bonuses of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card. If you spend $3,000 in your first three months, you’ll get 75,000 welcome points. Every time you stay at a Marriott hotel, you’ll collect points at a 6:1 ratio for every dollar. You’ll also qualify for a free high-end hotel stay once a year.
U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card
Many Visa cards offer limited-time perks to customers. However, the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum card is hard to beat when it comes to an extended interest-free period. Cardholders pay 0% interest on balance transfers and purchases made with the card during their first 20 billing cycles. This feature alone could save you hundreds of dollars in interest charges, all while delivering a cost-effective way to zap existing credit card debt by swapping it over to your new Visa.
On the down side, the card doesn’t deliver much in the way of incentives after that introductory period expires. That said, the annual percentage rate (APR) on interest can be as low as 14.74% after your first 20 months. That’s well below average if your credit rating qualifies you for the best rate.
Chase Freedom Card
While this card isn’t as flashy as the others on the list, it did make the cut thanks to the generous introductory reward. If you spend a meager $500 within three months of opening your account, Chase will give you a $150 bonus. That works out to 30% of the minimum sum. It’s like getting 30% off a $500 purchase you’ve been meaning to make anyway. Well worth it!
If you don’t mind tracking rewards, you’ll also enjoy that this card delivers a handsome 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in quarterly spending in specific bonus categories. That could equal as much as $75 per quarter. That cash back is even more valuable when you consider that the card carries no annual fee and comes with a 0% introductory interest rate for the first 15 billing cycles.
Visa cards that reward you for spending can help you build toward valuable discounts and bonuses. However, they also carry risks. If you’re carrying big balances from one month to the next, you’re accruing interest that erodes any bonus value you’re building. You’re also putting yourself at risk financially, as bloated balances can lead to repayment problems as interest costs continue to build up.
Whatever Visa card you choose, make sure you choose carefully and limit your spending. Pick one that suits your needs. For example, don’t get a travel card when you’ve never even left your home state. Additionally, don’t open a bunch of new accounts just to collect rewards. That will ding your credit score in a big way. As always, use your card responsibly to truly benefit from any rewards offered.