Bogdan Roberts, Credit Cards Moderator
American Express isn’t a Visa or a Mastercard. American Express, Visa and Mastercard are three of the four major card networks, but American Express also extends credit and issue cards directly to consumers.
A credit card never has two networks, so you’ll never see an American Express Visa card or an American Express Mastercard. Furthermore, lots of the credit cards on the Amex network are actually issued by American Express itself. Visa and Mastercard, on the other hand, don’t issue any credit cards.
What a credit card network is:
For a bit of background, credit card networks control where cards can be used and help process transactions. They also determine the fees merchants must pay when a consumer uses a card with their logo on it. And they provide cardholders with additional benefits like travel insurance and purchase protection. American Express is quite different from Visa and Mastercard, though.
American Express vs Visa and Mastercard:
- In addition to being a card network, American Express issues credit cards as well. Visa and Mastercard do not. So, Amex actually has a lot more control over the cards on its network, at least in terms of interest rates, fees and rewards.
- Visa and Mastercard are accepted at7 million U.S. merchant locations. American Express reaches a total of 10.6 million merchants.
- Amex cards work in more than 160 countries and territories. Visa and Mastercard are both accepted in over 200.
- Some credit card issuers have American Express, and Visa or Mastercard offers. Those issuers include U.S. Bank and USAA.
- Citi, Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, Wells Fargo and Capital One issue Visa and Mastercard credit cards but not Amex cards.
- PNC and TD Bank only offer Visa cards, and you may find banks that are exclusive to Mastercard, too.
- American Express’s fraud liability policy is excellent, while Mastercard and Visa provide good coverage, according to WalletHub’s research.
So, American Express doesn’t have the acceptance and reach of Mastercard or Visa. But it’s the go-to network for charge cards. And there are credit card offers on each network that could serve you well.
Best American Express, Visa & Mastercard Credit Cards:
Best American Express
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To learn more, check out WalletHub’s guide on credit card companies and card networks as well as our editors’ picks for the best credit cards on the market.
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Ross Francis, Member
American Express is neither Visa, nor Mastercard. Basically, there are 4 big networks in the U.S.: American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Discover. The same way you can't find a "Visa Mastercard", you won't find an Amex "anything." It is a standalone network.
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