"Visa Signature" refers to a package of benefits and perks offered on certain cards that carry the Visa name. Visa offers three levels of benefits, which vary by card. Signature is the middle level: It offers more than the basic benefits of the Traditional tier but not as much as you get with high-end Visa Infinite cards.
Below is a quick summary of Visa Signature benefits and a guide to using the more valuable ones.
Summary of Visa Signature benefits
Visa Signature benefits include the following:
Extended warranty protection.
Travel and emergency assistance.
Year-end spending summary.
Visa Signature concierge.
Roadside assistance (T).
Auto rental collision damage waiver (T).
Zero fraud liability (T).
Lost/stolen card reporting, emergency replacement and emergency cash (T).
Cardholder inquiry service (T).
Benefits marked with (T) are part of Visa's Traditional tier. The Signature package includes all Traditional benefits plus Signature-level perks.
VISA BENEFITS VS. ISSUER BENEFITS
Before we go into detail on these benefits, it's important to understand a few basic points:
Most of the features on a typical Visa credit card aren't dictated by Visa at all, but rather by the bank that issued the card (such as Chase, Capital One, Wells Fargo or your local community bank). Rewards rates, bonuses, interest rates and fees are all determined by the issuer.
Visa makes these benefits available on cards that carry the Visa Signature label, but it is up to the issuing bank to decide whether a particular card actually includes a particular benefit.
Many issuers offer their own benefits on top of (or in place of) those offered by Visa. These may be substantially more generous than Visa Signature benefits.
Extended warranty protection
HOW IT WORKS
Visa's extended warranty protection can add more time to the manufacturer's warranty on items purchase with your Visa Signature card:
For warranties of less than a year, Visa doubles the warranty period.
For warranties of one to three years, Visa adds a year to the warranty period.
For warranties longer than three years, there is no extended warranty benefit.
The maximum coverage is $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per cardholder. Vehicles, real estate, computer software and certain other items are excluded from this coverage. You’ll have to register your purchase with Visa or save the receipt and the original manufacturer’s warranty if you want to take advantage of this protection. File a claim by calling your benefits administrator at 800-397-9010 in the U.S., or 303-967-1093 outside the U.S.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Visa will only extend the manufacturer’s warranty, not improve it. If the manufacturer offers less-than-impressive terms — for instance, if it just covers defects rather than normal wear and tear — don’t expect Visa’s coverage to offer anything more. You’ll also have to show proof that you tried to get the item repaired through the manufacturer first, and getting the manufacturer to cover repairs can be a tedious process.
In some cases, getting a replacement item may be less of a hassle than waiting for a repair. Another alternative is buying an extended warranty or protection plan from the store where you bought the item, which might offer more coverage than the manufacturer's warranty. But, hey — the Visa Signature coverage is free for cardholders, so if all your manufacturer’s repairs are fully covered and shipping is reimbursed right away, it’s worth a try.
Travel and emergency assistance
HOW IT WORKS
Travelers needing information or assistance can call a dedicated multilingual hotline 24/7, and benefits specialists will connect them with services. In the U.S., the number is 800-992-6029; see this list for toll-free numbers in other countries. Available services include:
Pre-travel information about such things as immunizations and other health precautions, weather reports, currency exchange rates and visas.
Medical services, including referrals to health-care providers, emergency medical transportation and prescription assistance.
Legal and logistical help, including referrals to lawyers or bail services, document delivery, translation services, emergency replacements for lost tickets and assistance in finding lost luggage.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
You'll have to pay for services you request. The phone call is free; whatever help they line up for you will be your responsibility. For example, if you need translation help, the hotline might put you in touch with a local interpreter, help you find a lawyer, or arrange for an ambulance ride, but you’ll have to pay the interpreter, lawyer or ambulance company.
Auto rental collision damage waiver
HOW IT WORKS
If you rent a car with your Visa Signature card, you can get additional coverage against physical damage or theft of the rental. This auto rental collision damage waiver, or CDW, applies to expenses that aren’t covered by your own insurance policy. To use the benefit:
Rent the car using your card. Coverage applies to rentals of up to 15 days in your home country or up to 31 days internationally.
Decline the CDW offered by the rental car agency.
Report damage or theft. If the car is damaged or stolen, you have 45 days to report it to Visa Card Benefit Services.
File a claim. You have 90 days to file a claim with supporting documentation. (If you don't have all the necessary documents by then, you have 365 days to provide them.) Required documents are listed on the claim form and include a copy of the rental agreement; a copy of your credit card billing statement showing the rental; information about your personal auto insurance; information about the necessary repairs; and a police or incident report about the accident or theft. Start your claim at eclaimsline.com.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
This coverage usually comes on top of your personal insurance. If your rental is damaged or stolen, you'll first file a claim with your personal auto insurer. Visa's protection extends to charges not covered by that, including your deductible. This is known as "secondary coverage."
Nerd tip: If you don't have a personal auto insurance policy, Visa's coverage becomes "primary," meaning you'll file the original claim through Visa. Also, some cards offer primary rental coverage in all cases. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a Visa Signature, but its rental car coverage is primary. With primary insurance, you don't have to involve your own issuer at all if a rented vehicle is damaged or stolen.
The CDW covers only the rented vehicle. There's no liability protection for damage to other vehicles or for medical costs from an accident. It also doesn't cover your luggage or other belongings inside the rented vehicle. If you back into a pole, the Visa CDW is a nice perk; if you cause an accident that leaves other cars smashed up and people injured, you'll probably be going through your own insurance anyway.
It doesn't cover all vehicles. Passenger cars (economy through luxury class) are covered. SUVs are covered only when driven on the road. Not covered: vans that seat more than nine people, trucks, cargo vans and vehicles classified as "expensive."
It doesn't apply in certain countries. This coverage doesn't apply in Ireland, Israel or Jamaica. Also, some countries (including Australia, Costa Rica, Italy and New Zealand) require that people renting cars purchase a certain amount of insurance; Visa's coverage comes on top of that.
HOW IT WORKS
If you have car trouble while on the road, you can call 800-847-2869 at any time, day or night, and Visa will hook you up with a tow truck, locksmith or other service provider. There's no limit to how often you can use the service. You'll pay a flat fee of $69.95 for the service call. Covered services include:
Changing a tire.
Lockout service. This covers the cost of getting you into your car when you're locked out. New keys cost extra.
Towing up to 5 miles. Beyond that, you can be charged extra.
Winching if your car is at least 100 feet from the road. Farther than that, it can be extra.
Fuel delivery of up to 5 gallons. You'll have to pay for the gas on top of the service fee.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
On-the-spot repairs or diagnostic services may cost extra. Any additional services once your car is towed somewhere may also cost extra. If you’re a subscriber to a service like AAA already, or if your insurance has a roadside assistance program built in, those could be more affordable options.
Additional Visa Signature benefits
Other services and benefits available to Visa Signature cardholders:
Year-end spending summary. This detailed annual report breaks down where you used your card, which can help you with budgeting and tax prep.
Concierge service: If you need help choosing a gift for someone or arranging travel plans, you can call 24/7, and a concierge will help you make arrangements. If you buy anything, though, you’ll have to foot the bill.
Zero fraud liability.
Cardholder inquiry service. This allows you to call Visa and get details about your card, including both issuer- and network-provided features.
Lost/stolen card reporting, emergency replacement and emergency cash. If your card is lost or stolen, Visa, will work with your issuer to get you a replacement quickly. It can also arrange an emergency cash advance.
Benefits you 'may' have
As mentioned, some credit card issuers offer perks beyond those provided by Visa. The Visa website highlights several of these extra benefits that "your Visa Signature card may come with," but keep in mind that they are not part of the Visa Signature package. They're dictated by the issuer. They include:
Lost luggage or baggage delay reimbursement.
Reimbursement for Global Entry application fee.
Reimbursement for travel delays, cancellations or interruptions.
Travel accident insurance.
Priority Pass airport lounge access.
Price protection, purchase protection and return protection.
Emergency medical service and medical evacuation.
Some of these benefits are included in the Visa Infinite package.