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8 Best Visa Credit Cards of 2019

NerdWalletOctober 28, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

NerdWallet's Best Visa Credit Cards of 2019

Our pick for

Flat-rate cash back

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

on Alliant Credit Union's website

on Alliant Credit Union's website

Annual Fee

$0 the first year, then $99

Rewards Rate

2.5%-3%

Intro offer

$0

Recommended Credit Score
The annual fee may be a turn-off, but the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card was specifically designed for bigger spenders. If you spend more than $9,900 a year, it's a better deal than a 1.5% cash-back card with no annual fee. Spend more than $19,800, and it's better than a no-fee 2% flat-rate card.

Pros

The card has an outstanding cash-back rate: unlimited 3% rewards on every purchase in the first year, then unlimited 2.5% cash back thereafter. The card also charges no foreign transaction fees, making it a good option for international travel.

Cons

There's an annual fee of $0 the first year, then $99. After the first year, you'll have to spend $4,000 a year to make up for it. Also, you must be a member of Alliant Credit Union, although anyone can join with a $10 donation to Foster Care to Success.
  • Exclusively designed for those spending $50,000+ a year on their card
  • Unlimited Cash Back: 3% cash back in year one & 2.5% cash back after
  • No limit to the cash back awards you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Generous credit line
  • $99 annual fee, waived the first year
  • Works with Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay
  • $0 fraud liability guarantee from Visa

Our pick for

Bonus category cash back

Chase Freedom Credit Card

on Chase's website

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1%-5%

Intro offer

$150

Recommended Credit Score
The Chase Freedom® has one of the best rewards rates out there without an annual fee or a complicated redemption process. If you spend a lot on the 5% bonus categories — and most people do — you’ll easily earn substantial cash back with this card.

Pros

This card offers 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 per quarter in spending, and 1% on all other purchases. Bonus categories in recent years have included gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and wholesale clubs. There's a cash sign-up bonus that’s fairly easy to earn: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Cons

Activating and keeping track of bonus categories can be a hassle. You can opt in to the bonus category at any time and get the bonus for the entire quarter — but if you forget, you won’t get 5% cash back. If you don’t spend enough to maximize the bonus categories each quarter, you might earn more rewards with another card.
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74 - 25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠

Our pick for

Flat-rate travel rewards

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$0 for the first year, then $95

Rewards Rate

2x-10x

Points

Intro offer

50,000

Points

Recommended Credit Score
Simple rewards and flexible redemption have rightly made the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card one of the most popular credit cards on the market.

Pros

You earn an unlimited 2 miles per dollar spent on everything, and (through January 2020) a whopping 10 miles per dollar at Hotels.com/venture. You can redeem miles for statement credit against most travel expenses. You’re not restricted to one airline or hotel, as is the case with co-branded cards. Just book your own travel, then pay for it with rewards.

Cons

You won’t find airline-specific perks with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. If you’re loyal to one particular airline or hotel chain, for example, it might be worth comparing this card with its co-branded cards.
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • See if you qualify for a better offer with Capital One:

Our pick for

Bonus travel rewards

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

1x-2x

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Points

Recommended Credit Score
If you're staunchly loyal to a single airline or hotel, a co-branded card might provide specific benefits that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card does not. But if you want flexibility in earning and redeeming rewards for a reasonable annual fee, this is the best card around.

Pros

Unlike with cards tied to a specific airline or hotel brand, you can use rewards from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card in many places. You earn 2 points per $1 spent on dining and travel and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Points are worth 25% more when you use them to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, or you can transfer them at a 1:1 rate to several loyalty programs. The sign-up bonus is a huge plus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Cons

As a general travel card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card lacks the special perks — such as free checked bags and free anniversary nights at a hotel — offered by some co-branded cards airline and hotel cards.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel

Our pick for

Premium features

Chase Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

on Chase's website

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$450

Rewards Rate

1x-3x

Points

Intro offer

50,000

Points

Recommended Credit Score
The best premium travel card on the market gives you both top-notch rewards (what you get for using the card) and valuable perks (what you get just for carrying the card).

Pros

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® gives you 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar on all other spending. Points are worth 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed for travel booked through Chase, or you can transfer them on a 1:1 basis to a dozen hotel and airline partners, possibly giving you even more value. You get $300 a year in credit for travel expenses. Add in the big sign-up bonus, and this card can easily pay for itself and then some, even with an annual fee of $450.

Cons

The $450 annual fee is a significant out-of-pocket expense. Much of the value of this card is tied to the $300 annual travel credit; if you don’t travel much, this isn’t the card for you.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

Our pick for

Small-business cash back

Capital One Spark Cash Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$0 for the first year, then $95

Rewards Rate

2%

Intro offer

$500

Recommended Credit Score
With unlimited 2% cash back, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business is a great deal on its own and can be a powerful complement to the other cards in your wallet.

Pros

Flat-rate rewards cards are like khakis: boring, but they go with everything. When you pair this 2% cash-back card with a tiered rewards card, you’ll always earn more than the “1% back on everything else” that most cards promise. If you’re a one-credit-card type of entrepreneur, a flat-rate card like this will likely offer better long-term value than a tiered rewards card.

Cons

After the first year, you’ll break even on the annual fee only if you put more than $4,750 on the card per year. If you plan to spend less, consider a no-annual-fee card instead.
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn up to $2,000 in cash bonuses
  • Earn a $500 cash bonus when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months and earn $1,500 when you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of your account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • $0 annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases
  • $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • No foreign transaction fees

Our pick for

Small-business travel

Capital One Spark Miles Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$0 for the first year, then $95

Rewards Rate

2x

Points

Intro offer

50,000

Points

Recommended Credit Score
The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business is a keeper for traveling entrepreneurs whose expenses don't fall neatly into common bonus categories.

Pros

This card features an industry-leading flat rewards rate of 2 miles per dollar spent on anything. Miles are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel expenses. The sign-up bonus is also a big draw: Earn 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months and earn 150,000 bonus miles when you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of your account opening.

Cons

The card has an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95. After the first year, you'd have to spend at least $4,750 a year on the card before the rewards would outweigh the cost. But keep in mind that this fee could be deducted as a business expense on your taxes.
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn up to 200,000 bonus miles worth up to $2,000 to spend on travel—flights, hotels and more
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months and earn 150,000 bonus miles when you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of your account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions, and miles won't expire for the life of the account
  • Earn 5X miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel℠ using a Spark Miles card
  • Transfer your miles to 10+ leading travel loyalty programs like JetBlue™, Air Canada, and Emirates™
  • Redeem your miles instantly for any travel-related purchases, from flights and hotels to ride-sharing services
  • Fly through security with one statement credit for either the $85 TSA Pre✓® application fee or the $100 Global Entry application fee
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that

Our pick for

Gas

Pentagon Federal Credit Union Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card
Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1x-5x

Points

Intro offer

100

Points

Recommended Credit Score
For some, the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card won’t be an easy card to apply for, and redeeming points might be a hassle. But if you need a sky-high return on your gas spending, it may be the card for you.

Pros

If you’re willing to endure a little hassle in joining this credit union and using its points, it’s hard to beat the return in points on this card, which has an annual fee of $0. Each $1 spent on gas earns the equivalent of 4.25 cents when redeemed for gift cards, which is a superb return. It also helps at the supermarket. The card isn’t issued by a megabank, if that appeals to you.

Cons

To apply, you need to join the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, an organization that caters to military and government employees. (You can also join by making a charitable donation.) There is no cash-back option; just merchandise, gift cards and travel. Also, points generally aren’t worth the traditional penny apiece. You’ll typically get a value of 0.85 cent each, although points can be worth more than a penny when used for travel.
  • $100 bonus after spending $1,500 in purchase transactions within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • 0% APR promo balance transfer rate for 12 months now through March 31, 2020. After that, the APR for the unpaid balance and any new balance transfers will be 11.74% to 17.99%. APR will vary w/the market based on Prime Rate. 3% balance transfer fee per transaction. Subject to credit approval. If you take advantage of this balance transfer, you will immediately be charged interest on all purchases made with your credit card unless you pay the entire account balance, including balance transfers, in full each month by the payment due date.
  • Rate and offers current as of November 1, 2019 and subject to change.
  • Earn 5x points on gas purchases at the pump. Fuel purchases for airplanes and boats receive 1 point per dollar spent.
  • Earn 3x points on supermarket purchases (3 points/dollar spent)
  • Earn 1 point on all other purchases (1 point/dollar spent)
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No cash advance fee
  • Chip enabled for added security
  • Federally insured by NCUA
  • Variable rate as low As 11.74% APR

Last updated on October 28, 2019

Methodology

NerdWallet's credit cards team selects the best cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen in multiple categories.