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Credit Cards

Here are the best Visa credit cards for rewards and special financing

Visa is the largest payment processor in the world and has credit cards for every kind of consumer.

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Visa

Visa is a credit card network that's been around for over 60 years, but it wasn't always called Visa. The company was originally known as BankAmericard, after Bank of America's first credit card launched in 1958, and it didn't become Visa until 1976.

Today, Visa provides the infrastructure to process transactions between merchants and card issuers and backs credit cards from dozens of issuers, notably Bank of America, Capital One and Chase.

Visa cards are grouped into one of three tiers — Traditional, Signature and Infinite — and the tier determines the benefits you receive. Typically, the higher the card's annual fee, the higher the tier. All Visa cardholders receive standard perks, such as $0 liability protection, while higher tiers can also enjoy purchase protection and travel insurance.

Depending on the card you have, you also can benefit from lucrative rewards programs, introductory interest-free financing, airport lounge access and more, just by having a Visa card.

Below, CNBC Select breaks down the best Visa credit cards into six categories so you can choose the best card for your needs.

Best Visa credit cards

Best no-annual-fee Visa card

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

On Chase's Secure site
  • Rewards

    Enjoy 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services, 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; and 3% cash back on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

  • Welcome bonus

    INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    20.49% - 29.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Intro fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • Member FDIC. Terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Rewards can be transferred to a Chase Ultimate Rewards card
  • Generous welcome bonus

Cons

  • 3% fee charged on foreign transactions

Who's this for? If you're looking to maximize cash back in everyday spending, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® may be the card for you. This no-annual-fee card offers cardholders 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery service), and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases. (Learn more about how Chase classifies bonus category purchases.)

The Freedom Unlimited will either be a Visa Platinum (Traditional) or Visa Signature, depending on your credit limit. Visa Signature cardholders receive a few more benefits, including access to the Visa Signature concierge and Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection. Both versions provide select partner benefits, such as 5% cash back on Lyft purchases through March 31st, 2025 and complimentary three months of DashPass, plus 50% off for the next nine months when you activate by December 31st, 2024. This perk provides you with free delivery on DoorDash orders over $12 and lower service fees.

Don't miss: Best credit card combinations to maximize rewards

Best travel Visa card

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase’s secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X total points on flights and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases plus, 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2025

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

  • Annual fee

    $550

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    22.49% - 29.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

  • Terms apply.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit for travel purchases
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit up to $100 every four years
  • Priority Pass™ Select lounge access at 1,000+ VIP lounges in over 500 cities worldwide
  • Points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel via Chase Travel℠
  • Special benefits at The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
  • Complimentary year of Lyft Pink membership

Cons

  • High annual fee, but it can be offset by taking advantage of all the card’s perks
  • No introductory APR
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $1,469
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $3,346

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

Who's this for? The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a standout travel card with unique rewards and luxury perks. Most notably, points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel via the Chase Travel℠. For example, 75,000 points are worth $1,125 redeemed toward travel.

Cardholders earn points at a rate of 5X points on flights and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠; 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 annual travel credit, 3X on other travel and dining, and 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus 10X points on Lyft rides through March 31st, 2025.

Additional Lyft and DoorDash perks include a complimentary year of Lyft Pink membership, which provides 15% off car rides, priority airport pickups and more, plus a free DashPass subscription when you activate by December 31st, 2024.

This card also comes with an annual $300 travel credit, which can cover everything from airfare and hotels to parking and tolls.

Take note that this card has a steep $550 annual fee, but all the card's added credits and benefits can help offset the cost. If you're not willing to pay that much for a card, consider the lower-cost Chase Sapphire Preferred®, which has a $95 annual fee (see how the Reserve and Preferred cards compare).

The Sapphire Reserve card is one of few Visa Infinite credit cards, which provide access to premium perks, such as Priority Pass™ Lounge membership and discounts on car rentals, compared to Visa Signature cards. 

Don't miss: Best luxury and premium credit cards

Best balance transfer Visa card

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

Information about the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 billing cycles on balance transfers and purchases

  • Regular APR

    18.74% - 29.74% (Variable)

  • Balance transfer fee

    An introductory fee of either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater, for balances transferred within 60 days of account opening. After that, either 5% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Cell phone protection plan

Cons

  • No rewards program
  • Has a foreign transaction fee
  • Balances must be transferred within 60 days from account opening

Who's this for? The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers the longest 0% APR intro period for a Visa card at 18 billing cycles on balance transfers and purchases (then a 18.74% - 29.74% variable APR) Balances must be transferred within 60 days from account opening. This is a longer-than-average intro period for a balance transfer card and can provide you with a low-cost way to finance large purchases.

The balance transfer fee is 3% (minimum $5). That can be a worthwhile expense when you calculate how much you'll save on interest. There are no-fee balance transfer cards that can save you more money, but these cards often come with less time to pay off your balance at 0% interest.

Keep in mind that you'll have 60 days to complete your balance transfer, starting from the day you open your account, so it's a good idea to transfer it as soon as possible.

While this card doesn't have a rewards program or welcome bonus, you can benefit from no annual fee and cell phone protection against damage or theft.

Best student Visa card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students credit card

  • Rewards

    Unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    25,000 online bonus points after you spend at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening, which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward qualifying travel and dining purchases

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for the first 15 billing cycles on purchases, and for any balance transfers made within the first 60 days of opening your account

  • Regular APR

    18.24% - 28.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% of each transaction intro balance transfer fee for the first 60 days from account opening, then 4%

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

Terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Strong welcome bonus of 25,000 points if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • Intro 0% APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • No student-centric benefits or incentives to practice responsible credit behavior
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $466
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $1,528

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

Who's this for? The Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students is a good choice for college students who are learning to use credit for the first time. Cardholders earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases.

You can redeem rewards as a statement credit to cover the cost of qualifying travel and restaurant purchases — a simple way to reduce the cost of taking a spring break vacation, buying a plane ticket home or having a meal with friends. This card also has no foreign transaction fees, making it an ideal card for students studying abroad.

Even better, cardholders with a Bank of America checking or savings account receive a 10% customer points bonus. That increases the rewards rate to 1.65 points per $1 spent.

Best cash-back Visa card

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

Information about the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    2.5% cash back on your first $10,000 of qualifying eligible purchases (1.5% for purchases over $10,000)

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%

  • Regular APR

    17.49% to 27.49% variable

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    N/A

Terms apply.

Pros

  • 2.5% cash back on all purchases (up to $250 in cash back rewards per billing cycle)
  • No annual fee
  • Simple cash-back rewards

Cons

  • No welcome bonus
  • No special financing offers

Who's this for? The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card offers 2.5% cash back on your first $10,000 of qualifying eligible purchases (1.5% for purchases over $10,000), which is ideal for anyone looking for a high-earning, yet easy-to-use card. There are no bonus categories to keep track of so you can easily maximize cash back on everyday purchases.

In order to qualify for this card, you'll need to be a member of Alliant Credit Union and open an Alliant bank account. If you don't qualify for membership based on location, job or family member, you can join Alliant for free by supporting Alliant's partner charity, Foster Care to Success, since Alliant pays the $5 membership fee on your behalf.

Best Visa card for bad credit

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

Information about the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    As low as 16.25% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    None

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    No credit history

Terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • $500 minimum security deposit, which is higher than average
  • Credit union membership required, which may cost a minimum of $10 if you don’t qualify
  • No rewards program
  • No clear timeline to upgrade to an unsecured card

Who's this for? Many credit cards for bad credit charge high fees, but the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card is an exception. There's no annual fee and a reasonable 16.25% variable APR (though you should aim to pay your bill in full every month).

While there are low fees, you'll be required to make a higher-than-average $500 minimum security deposit to receive an equivalent credit limit. That's compared to other secured cards that typically require $200 deposits. You can use this card to make purchases just like a traditional card and by making on time-payments, you can build or rebuild your credit score and work your way toward qualifying for the best cards for fair/average or good credit.

This card does offer some helpful perks, including travel insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver and extended warranty protection. 

Since this card is issued by a credit union, membership to the Digital Federal Credit Union is required. However, anyone can join in one of several ways: if you're a family member of a DCU member, live in select communities, work for select employers or make a one-time contribution (as low as $10) to a participating organization.

Find the best credit card for you by reviewing offers in our credit card marketplace or get personalized offers via CardMatch™.

FAQs

Is Visa a credit card issuer?

Visa does not actually issue any of its own credit cards directly to consumers — it's simply the credit card network.

What is the best Visa credit card?

The best Visa credit card for you is one that most closely aligns with your purchasing habits and your financial goals — and this list is a good place to start. You can find more Visa cards on our other credit card lists, including:

How many numbers are on a Visa credit card?

The majority of credit cards, including Visa cards, have 16 digits, plus a three-digit card verification value (CVV).

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Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed popular Visa credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.

Catch up on CNBC Select's in-depth coverage of credit cardsbanking and money, and follow us on TikTokFacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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