The American Express® Gold Card is not a Visa or a Mastercard – it is on the American Express network. This means the Amex Gold card has a bit less worldwide acceptance than a Visa or a Mastercard but should still be usable at most merchants within the U.S.
In general, it doesn’t matter much what network your credit card is on unless you’re focusing specifically on international travel. In that case, you’re best served by getting a Visa or Mastercard credit card with no foreign transaction fees. But for all other purposes, all four major credit card networks have comparable benefits and card offers. It’s best to compare individual cards on a case-by-case basis rather than focusing on a specific network.
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.… read full answer
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.
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:
Major credit cards are any cards that belong to one of the big four credit card networks: Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. That’s what stores mean by “we accept all major credit cards.” A major credit card will almost always show the logo of its network on the front. In some cases it’ll be on the back. If a card doesn’t have such a logo, it’s likely a … read full answerstore card that can only be used at a specific retailer.
Some major credit cards can also be considered more “major” than others, depending on the issuer. The 15 largest credit card companies account for more than 75% of all outstanding balances. So a Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover card from one of those companies, like Chase or Capital One, might fit the description of a major credit card best.
There are dozens of other banks and credit unions that issue credit cards, but their products are less popular. Major credit cards from the top issuers are the product of large-scale operations, after all. And they often provide perks to match, from better rates, rewards and fees to an easy-to-use website and free mobile app.
Here’s what you need to know about major credit cards:
Major credit cards are those on the Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover networks.
You can usually see the logo of your credit card network on the front of your card. Sometimes it is on the back. If there is no logo, you likely have a store card that only works at a specific retailer.
Most U.S. merchants accept all major credit cards. But American Express lags behind the others by about 1 million locations.
Visa and Mastercard are accepted virtually everywhere in the world. Discover cards work in 185 countries and territories. American Express cards work in 160+. Discover and Amex aren’t necessarily widely accepted in all the countries that take them, either.
American Express and Discover issue credit cards, in addition to serving as card networks. Visa and Mastercard do not.
Chase, Bank of America, Capital One, Citi, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank are among the other major credit card issuers.
When picking a major credit card to use, it’s easy to narrow your search down. If you don’t plan to travel much, any network will do. But if you’re going to use your card abroad a lot, Visa and Mastercard are the safest bets.
By the way, it’s worth noting that Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover aren’t the world’s only major credit card networks. There’s also the likes of India’s RuPay and China’s UnionPay, for example.
American Express is often better than Visa and Mastercard for use in the U.S. by people with good or excellent credit who pay their bill in full monthly and redeem rewards for domestic travel or cash, depending on the Amex. But Visa and Mastercard are better than American Express when it comes to card acceptance and card variety.… read full answer
Credit cards on any of these card networks could deserve a spot in your wallet, though, depending on your creditworthiness and spending habits. As three of the four largest credit card networks in the United States, Visa, Mastercard and American Express are really quite similar.
One big difference, however, is that Amex is both a card issuer and a network, while Visa and Mastercard are strictly card networks. As a result, cardholders borrow money directly from American Express when they make purchases with an Amex-issued credit card, while people paying with Visa or Mastercard credit cards borrow money from a bank or a credit union. More than 300 different banks and credit unions issue credit cards on the Visa or Mastercard network. Cardholders also earn rewards directly from American Express, which is not the case with Visa or Mastercard.
Still, Visa and Mastercard are accepted by international merchants much more often than American Express. Amex credit card applicants also need good credit or better for approval, whereas applicants of any credit level can find a suitable Visa or Mastercard credit card.
Visa vs. Mastercard vs. American Express
10.6 million locations
10.7 million locations
10.7 million locations
160+ countries & territories
200+ countries & territories
210+ countries & territories
Credit Cards for Good/Excellent Credit?
Credit Cards for Below-Average Credit?
Despite these differences, American Express, Visa, and Mastercard all offer similar basic benefits, like $0 fraud liability and emergency card replacement. More advanced perks are often available, too, but those usually depend on the network tier of your credit card rather than the network itself. Visa and Mastercard both have three levels of credit card benefits, while Amex doesn’t officially have tiers but generally offers better benefits for cards with higher annual fees.
American Express can be better than Visa and Mastercard for cardholders who spend heavily, have good credit or better, plan to pay their monthly bills in full, and are able to justify paying any annual fees by earning more than enough in rewards. But an Amex probably shouldn’t be the only card in your wallet, especially if you like to travel internationally.
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