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Most of the time, people categorize credit cards by issuer or type (cash back, travel, cobranded, etc.), rather than payment network. That’s because most of the time, which payment network you use (Visa, Mastercard, Amex or Discover) doesn’t matter that much. However, there are times when it does make a difference. For example, Amex isn’t as widely accepted as other issuers (though that is starting to change) and bill-pay services like Plastiq have limitations for Mastercard, Visa and Amex cards. Not to mention small vendors in the US and many stores abroad only accept one type of credit card.

For these reasons, it’s important to have a wallet with a diverse portfolio of both issuers and payment networks. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best Visa credit cards to have in your wallet.

The Best Visa Credit Cards of 2019:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

(Image by The Points Guy.)

Sign-up bonus: 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening

Annual fee: $95

Why you’ll love it: The Chase Sapphire Preferred is arguably the card that made travel points and miles what they are today, and there are plenty of reasons that this Visa card should be the next addition to your wallet. The card’s 2x points on travel (including airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds, passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, parking lots and garages) and dining will help you pile up points quickly. Chase Ultimate Rewards is among the most valuable rewards programs, since you can get 25% more value on travel when you redeem your points for travel directly through the Chase travel portal. You can also transfer your points to any of Chase’s nine airline and three hotel transfer partners.

The Sapphire Preferred has no foreign transaction fees and offers valuable trip delay protection, trip interruption and cancellation protection, delayed baggage coverage and primary rental car insurance — all of which will become even more of a commodity after Citi eliminates benefits like these from its cards in September. Check out our full card review for more details.

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening

Annual fee: $95

Why you’ll love it: Although it’s not Chase’s most premium card offering, the Ink Business Preferred has an excellent sign-up bonus and rewards categories that fit common small business expenses. The card’s 80,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus points are worth a mind-boggling $1,600, based on TPG’s latest valuations.

While that kind of value could immediately help out any business, there’s even more to get excited about. It’s a great Visa card that business owners can use long term. Your annual fee of $95 will get you access to free employee cards, no foreign transaction fees and cell phone insurance, as well as some strong business-friendly bonus categories, including 3x points for your first $150,000 each account anniversary year spent on travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services, social media advertising and search engine advertising. Check out our full card review to learn more.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by Danielle Vito/The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening

Annual fee: $450

Why you’ll love it: The Chase Sapphire Reserve continues to be one of the best credit cards on the market for travelers. The Visa card’s $450 annual fee is offset by premium benefits, most notably a $300 annual travel credit (good for anything from Uber to plane tickets to hotels) that brings your actual out-of-pocket cost down to $150 a year. The Sapphire Reserve also offers 3x points on travel (excluding the $300 travel credit) and dining, which are both loosely defined to include spending on items such as public transit and meal delivery services.

You’ll also get access to a premium concierge and travel perks like a Priority Pass Select membership and a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit. The Sapphire Reserve also offers travel and car rental coverage similar to the Sapphire Preferred, although the terms are slightly different. Check out our guide to “Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which Credit Card to Get” for a full comparison and be sure to read our full Sapphire Reserve card review.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Sign-up bonus: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in the first year up to $20,000 in spending (1.5% back after)

Annual fee: None

Why you’ll love it: The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a versatile Visa card that can be used alone or paired with other cards.

Arguably the best part of this card is that you earn points — redeem them for cash back and they’re worth 1 cent each. However, since Chase lets you pool points between its credit cards, if you also hold one of the first three cards on this list — a Chase Sapphire Reserve, Ink Business Preferred or Chase Sapphire Preferred — you can transfer your points from the Freedom Unlimited to these cards, turning them into full-fledged Ultimate Rewards points. This means you can transfer them to Chase’s hotel or airline partners and potentially get much more than just 1 cent apiece. In fact, TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, and 1.5 points per dollar on everything with the Freedom Unlimited multiplied by 2 cents gives you a consistent 3% return, making the card one of the most compelling cards for everyday spending even after the first year. Check out our full card review for all the details.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months

Annual fee: $95 (waived first year)

Why you’ll love it: With this great beginner travel card from Visa, you’ll earn 2x miles on every purchase, plus 10x miles when you book accommodations through a special link (Hotels.com/venture) and pay with your Venture Card through January 2020. The Venture offers a simple way to earn and redeem your miles. You can either redeem them as a statement credit for 1 cent apiece for recent travel purchases made with your card, or you can transfer miles earned from the Venture Card to a selection of airline partners.

Its $95 annual fee is waived the first year, and the Venture offers a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100) — a feature many mid-tier travel cards do not offer cardholders. Check out our full card review here — or, if you’re looking for a no-annual-fee card that still earns 10x miles on Hotels.com purchases (when booked and paid via Hotels.com/venture), consider the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Sign-up bonus: 75,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening

Annual fee: $95

Why you’ll love it: If you stay at Marriott hotels, or would like to, the Bonvoy Boundless card may be attractive because of its 6x earnings at participating Marriott properties. Plus, you’ll get a free-night award on each account anniversary valid at any property charging up to 35,000 points per night. If used well, this free night should more than offset the card’s annual fee — although you won’t get your first free-night award until your first account anniversary. Plus, you’ll get automatic Silver elite status in the form of 15 elite night credits each year. Check out our full card review for more details.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card

(Image by The Points Guy.)

Sign-up bonus: Get 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22), after you spend $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of account opening.

Annual fee: $75

Why you’ll love it: Alaska Mileage Plan miles are consistently ranked as the most valuable individual airline miles in TPG’s monthly valuations, which makes the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature an incredibly underrated card. Alaska Airlines offers generous routing rules, amazing alliance and non-alliance partners and almost laughably low award rates (such as 70,000 miles for a first class ticket to Asia). However, Alaskan miles are hard to earn outside of frequent sales and its transfer partnership with Marriott. Because of that, its Visa credit card can be a valuable tool in your points-and-miles strategy.

The $75 annual fee is lower than most credit cards for airline miles and the included annual companion certificate can more than make up for the cost. Check out our full card review for more information.

United Explorer Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.

Annual fee: $95 (waived first year)

Why you’ll love it: The United Explorer Card underwent a major refresh in 2018 and the card has remained compelling ever since. In addition to 2x miles on all United purchases, you’ll also earn 2x on dining and hotels and 1x everywhere else. You’ll also enjoy a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100), a 25% discount on inflight purchases and luxury benefits like priority boarding, a free checked bag for you and up to two travelers, two one-time United Club passes and the unpublished benefit of additional award space. If you fly United frequently, this Visa card could be incredibly useful. Check out our full card review for more information.

Chase Freedom

Sign-up bonus: $150 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening

Annual fee: None

Why you’ll love it: Although its potential is a lot smaller than the Chase Freedom Unlimited, the Chase Freedom can be a useful tool in your points-building arsenal. Like the Unlimited, the Freedom comes with no annual fee and the ability to maximize the value of your points by combining it with another member of the Chase Trifecta. The major difference lies in its earning power.

Where the Freedom Unlimited gets a flat 1.5% back on all purchases (3% on the first $20,000 in your first year), the Chase Freedom earns 5% on your first $1,500 spent in rotating quarterly categories (activation required) and 1% everywhere else. The categories change each year, but they’ve included gas stations, grocery stores, Lyft and mobile payments like Apple Pay in the past. If you can max out all four quarterly sets of categories, you’ll earn 30,000 points per year on these purchases. According to TPG valuations, that’s worth $600 if you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards card. Check out our full card review to learn more.

Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days of account opening

Annual fee: $95

Why you’ll love it: If you’re looking for cash back over travel rewards, the Bank of America Premium Rewards card has the potential to be one of the most rewarding options for existing Bank of America customers. In addition to a sign-up bonus worth $500 (as points are worth a fixed 1 cent each), this Visa card has a unique earning structure. You’ll earn 1.5% back on all purchases except for travel and dining, which earn 2%. That isn’t especially groundbreaking, but certain Bank of America customers are eligible for higher bonus rates.

If you have an eligible Bank of America checking account and a three-month average combined balance of $20,000 or more in Bank of America and/or Merrill investment accounts, you can sign-up for the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program. This will increase your earnings on the Premium Rewards card by an amount based on your account balance:

Spend Categories Regular Cardholder Tier 1 – Gold ($20,000 – $50,000) Tier 2 – Platinum ($50,000 – $100,000) Tier 3 – Platinum Honors ($100,000+)
Travel/Dining Earnings 2x points 2.5x points 3x points 3.5x points
Other Earnings 1.5x points 1.875x points 2.25x points  2.62x points

 

Even at the high end, this isn’t quite as strong as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which offers an equivalent of 6% back on travel and dining. However, remember that the Premium Rewards card has a much lower annual fee. If you’re after a cash back credit card and all the flexibility it affords, 2.625% for everyday spending is about as good as it gets — if you’re able to reach the Platinum Honors tier. See our full card review to learn more.

Bottom Line

It’s worth knowing which payment network your credit cards use. You shouldn’t apply for or use cards based solely on the payment network, but you should try to have a diverse mix in your wallet. Especially before you travel outside the country or try to make any large purchases, you should make sure you have a few different types of credit cards available in case your merchant can’t process one of them. There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of a meal, or a long cab ride in a foreign country, only to find out you don’t have a way to pay your bill.

Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor.

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2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.