Visa credit cards are available to people of all credit levels, from bad to excellent, and they can help you build credit, earn rewards or finance purchases. However, there are a few key mistakes that you should avoid with Visa credit cards that could end up costing you money if you’re not careful.
1. Thinking All Visa Cards Offer the Same Benefits
Visa provides supplemental benefits on credit cards issued on its network. Exactly which perks you receive, however, depends on the card’s benefits tier and its issuer.
From lowest to highest, the tiers are regular Visa, Visa Signature and Visa Infinite. Certain valuable perks, like travel insurance and return protection, are only available at the highest level.
But it’s important to note that your credit card won’t necessarily have every benefit from its tier. Your card’s issuer gets to decide which benefits are included on the card. As a result, you should evaluate benefits on a card-by-card basis to pick the best package.
2. Not Checking Your Credit Score Before Comparing Cards
There are Visa credit cards for people of every credit level, but it’s a lot easier to narrow down your choices once you check your credit score for free. That will prevent you from considering cards whose requirements are too high, as well as keep you from missing out on better offers by applying for cards with requirements drastically below your score.
3. Not Comparing Options Based on Your Biggest Needs
Once you know what cards you have a shot at qualifying for based on your credit score, you should compare them based on the features you need most.
- If you’re looking primarily to build credit or just want a card for very occasional use, you will likely want to get a credit card with a $0 annual fee.
- If you will use your card for a lot of purchases, you should consider rewards cards, including cash back cards for everyday use and travel cards for taking trips.
- If you need to finance purchases, a card with a low APR is best, especially a 0% intro APR.
4. Thinking Visa Issues Credit Cards
Visa is one of the four major credit card networks, alongside Mastercard, Discover and American Express. However, Visa does not issue any of its own credit cards. Instead, various banks and credit unions issue cards on the Visa network, and Visa facilitates transactions on those cards.
This can be confusing because two of the credit card networks, Discover and American Express, do issue their own cards. But understanding each company’s role in the credit card market will make it a lot easier to evaluate your options and find the right fit. After all, Visa credit cards are not all equally good, as some issuers are more generous with benefits and rewards than others.
5. Not Considering Mastercard Credit Cards
Mastercard is Visa’s biggest competitor, and it has an abundance of good credit card offers on its network. Mastercard’s and Visa’s supplemental benefits and worldwide acceptance are very similar, so there’s not really any major reason to favor one network over the other. Only considering Visa cards just reduces your choices significantly.
You can learn more about the differences between Visa and Mastercard from WalletHub’s in-depth guide.