Advertiser Disclosure

NerdWallet’s Best Visa Credit Cards

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here's how we make money.
Best Visa Credit Cards

If you’re in the market for a new Visa card, you’ve got no shortage of options. To decide which card is best for you, consider your spending habits, debt status and rewards preferences. Here are our top picks.

NerdWallet’s best Visa credit cards

Best for … Card
Sign-up bonus Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Cash rewards Chase Freedom®
No-fee travel rewards BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card
Getting out of debt Chase Slate®
Bad credit U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card

Best sign-up bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • A large bonus
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Cool factor - metal card
  • Earn more points on travel and dining at restaurants
  • Premium travel protection benefits

Cons

  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, after that $95 per year

Bonus Offer

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$0 for the first year, then $95

Intro APR Promotions

N/A

APR

  • APR: 16.24% - 23.24% Variable APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 2 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel and dining, and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. The card’s major draw is its sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. If you add an authorized user and make a purchase within those first three months, you get an additional 5,000 bonus points.

Travel credit card points are typically worth 1 cent apiece. But if you use points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, they’re each worth 1.25 cents. That makes the sign-up and authorized user bonuses worth $687.50 combined, but you may be able to get an even higher value by transferring points to one of Chase’s partner programs.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has an $0 for the first year, then $95, and no foreign transaction fees.

Best for cash rewards

Chase Freedom®

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • 5% rewards on rotating categories
  • Access to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards site to earn more cash back

Cons

  • If you value simplicity, a flat rate cash back card may be better
  • A foreign transaction fee

Bonus Offer

Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

APR

  • APR: 14.24% - 23.24% Variable APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • 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
  • 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 14.24-23.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like gas stations, restaurants, and wholesale clubs
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee

The Chase Freedom® gives you 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories, up to $1,500 spent per quarter, and 1% on everything else. Here are the current bonus categories:

Chase Freedom® bonus rewards categories for 2016
Q1 (Jan. 1 – March 31)Gas stations and local commuter transportation (not including parking, tolls or Amtrak)
Q2 (April 1 – June 30)Grocery stores and wholesale clubs
Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)Restaurants and wholesale clubs
Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)Department stores, wholesale clubs and drugstores

The card’s cash sign-up bonus is relatively generous and easily attainable with everyday spending: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. The Chase Freedom® has an annual fee of $0 and a decent 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.24% - 23.24% Variable APR.

Best for no-fee travel rewards

BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card

Apply Now on Bank of America's secure website, or call (800) 211-3740

Pros

  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Generous flat rewards rate on all purchases
  • Flexibility to book travel how you want
  • Rewards accelerator if you bank with Bank of America or Merrill Lynch

Cons

  • More restrictive than a straight cash back card
  • If you're a big spender with excellent credit and willing to pay an annual fee, there are cards with higher rewards

Bonus Offer

20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% on Purchases for 12 billing cycles

APR

  • APR: 15.24% - 23.24% Variable APR
  • Penalty APR: up to 29.99% APR
  • Cash Advance APR: See Terms

Card Details

  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 15.24% - 23.24% Variable APR
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%.

The BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card offers convenience and flexibility — there are no special bonus categories to sign up for, and points can be redeemed for credit against travel purchases, meaning you can fly any airline or stay at any hotel and pay with points. All purchases earn 1.5 points per $1, but if you book travel through the Bank of America® Travel Center, you’ll get 3 points per dollar.

Globe-trotters will appreciate that there are no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee is $0, and while the sign-up bonus isn’t the best around, it’s easy to earn: 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases. New cardholders also get a 0% on Purchases for 12 billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 15.24% - 23.24% Variable APR.

An extra incentive: If you have a Bank of America® checking or savings account, you can earn a 10% points bonus; if you have accounts with Bank of America®, Merrill Edge® or Merrill Lynch® and are enrolled in the Preferred Rewards program, you can earn 25%, 50% or 75% bonuses, depending on the combined balance in those accounts.

Best for getting out of debt

Chase Slate®

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • $0 Intro on balance transfer fees made within 60 days of Account Opening
  • Long 0% Intro APR Period

Cons

  • No Rewards
  • Can't transfer debt from another Chase account

Bonus Offer

Save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee, 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free.

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

APR

  • APR: 13.24% - 23.24% Variable APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Monthly FICO® Score and Credit Dashboard for free
  • No Penalty APR - Paying late won't raise your interest rate (APR). All other account pricing and terms apply
  • $0 Annual Fee

If you’re in debt and need some breathing room to pay it off, a low-cost balance-transfer card is a powerful tool. The Chase Slate® offers a $0 balance transfer fee for the first 60 days, an annual fee of $0, and a 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable APR. All those zeroes mean that you can put more money toward paying down your debt, rather than credit card interest or fees.

Best for bad credit

U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card

Apply Now on US Bank's secure website

Pros

  • Qualify with limited / bad credit

Cons

  • Has annual fee
  • No rewards
  • High APR

Bonus Offer

None

Annual Fee

$29

Intro APR Promotions

N/A

APR

  • Purchase: 19.24%, Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • No rewards offered

If you’re looking to improve your credit, the U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card can help you get there. When you open the account, you put down a refundable security deposit of $300 to $5,000, and the deposit equals your credit limit. Since the deposit protects the card issuer in case of default, secured cards are easier to get approved for.

This issuer reports your activity on this card to the credit bureaus, so responsible use can boost your credit score and help you qualify for a better credit card down the road. If you manage the account responsibly — pay on time, don’t max out your credit line — for 12 months, U.S. Bank may offer to move you to an unsecured credit card.

The ongoing APR is 19.24% Variable, and the annual fee is $29, which is pretty good among secured cards.

Another benefit is the grace period, which is the interest-free period you get if you pay your balance in full. On most cards it’s 20 to 25 days. The grace period on the U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card is 24 to 30 days, giving you more time to pay.

To help manage your account so you can graduate to an unsecured card, use U.S. Bank’s FlexControl™ online tools. You can set up automatic payments to pay on time and avoid interest and late fees.

Updated Aug. 30, 2016.

Ellen Cannon is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ecannon@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ellencannon