Visa or American Express… who should you choose? This matchup will give you the answer! I’ve updated it for 2013 with the latest data available.
Round One: Size of Company
First, let’s a take a quick look at AmEx’s basic stats:
Stock symbol: AXP
Value of company: $62 billion (as of Dec 2012)
How many credit cards in US? 50.6 million (as of Jan 2011)
How many debit cards in US: n/a (doesn’t do debit)
Stock symbol: V
Value of company: $98 billion (as of Dec 2012)
How many credit cards in US: 261 million (as of Sept 2011)
How many debit cards in US: 392 million (as of Sept 2011)
Winner? As far as the size of the company, Visa definitely beats AmEx in this round!
Round Two: Card Acceptance
American Express: Acceptance in the U.S. is very high; there are approximately 4.5 million merchants who accept their cards. Amex is also accepted in over 130 other countries, but its acceptance is usually much lower in other countries than it is in the U.S.
Visa: Acceptance in the U.S. is around 8 million merchants. Worldwide Visa is the most widely accepted credit card and can be used in over 170 different countries.
Winner? Visa is more accepted than Amex. That being said, here in the U.S. you can use your American Express at the vast majority of business, with the exception of some mom and pop shops (like dry cleaners, diners, etc).
Round Three: Best Credit Cards?
For starters, it’s important to note that Visa doesn’t actually issue credit cards… they only process the transaction. The banks that use Visa are the ones that control the cards, so you really can’t stereotype Visa, because one bank that issues them may suck, while another is spectacular.
American Express on the other hand does directly issue the vast majority of their credit cards. Generally speaking, their cards are tailored to upper middle class and come with more premium benefits.
Winner? American Express, because overall their cards have more benefits. However there are a number of Visa cards with great rewards and benefits too, but I think most people would agree that if asked, their card of choice would be an AmEx versus a Visa.
Final Round: Who Wins For 2013?
Overseas, Visa is probably your best bet. But here in the US, American Express has some pretty amazing cards with great benefits. So I would say Visa wins internationally and Amex wins here at home. However, there are some Visa cards that are better than Amex cards and vice-versa… it really just boils down to what you are looking for.
Here are two of the best deals in 2013 for Visa cards:
- Capital One Venture – Double miles on every purchase, every day!
- Chase Freedom – good Visa card with no annual fee and up to 5% cash back
And here are two for American Express: