Which Visa card is best
July 10, 2008 9:53 AM   Subscribe

What is the best Visa card to have?

I need a new Visa card. I recently cut up my Chase Amazon credit card. I was happy with the rewards (1% back in the form of Amazon gift certificates) but over the last 6 months their customer service has been hassling me nearly incessantly - "security locks" for no reason, ridiculous fees and charges for no reason. When they refused to waive the latest of these I cancelled the card.

I never carry a balance, I won't pay an annual fee, and I have no debt. I have perfect credit. I use the card for convenience and for Internet ordering and I pay the full amount every month. I will not use a debit card.

I have an Amex Blue Cash that I like, but Amex isn't taken everywhere that Visa is. (If it were, I wouldn't be asking this question; this is also why I'm not interested in Discover, DC, or other similar cards.) I don't fly much and I buy gas on my corporate card (5% off) so I don't need those benefits. But I did like getting an 'all-purpose' reward.

Given the above, which Visa card is the best for me?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
REI is good if you like to get kitted up & going outside on occasion, assuming there's a store near you
posted by yort at 10:11 AM on July 10, 2008

Well, I was going to recommend the Chase Freedom card, which gives you 3% on your top "everyday spending" categories each month and 1% on everything else, but if you don't like Chase, then that's out.

FNBO's ExtraEarnings Visa gives you 2% cash back on everything for the first year, which may come out about the same overall (or do even better if you make mostly purchases that wouldn't qualify for the 3% on the Chase card).

I have both of these cards myself (and a Discover Open Road card, 5% off gas) and use whichever one gets me the best rewards for a particular purchase.

Citibank also used to have some cards comparable to Chase's offerings, but those seem to have dried up. Now their best offer seems to be 3% on three categories (gas, groceries, and drugstores) for the first year.
posted by kindall at 10:11 AM on July 10, 2008

If you go to bars and out to eat to restaurants alot, you need the Citi Professional card, which provides 3% off at restaurants (bars are restaurants)
posted by sandmanwv at 10:21 AM on July 10, 2008

I've also been using the Chase Freedom card for about a year with no issues. 3% cash back on gas, groceries and 'quick service' restaurants, 1% back on everything else. You can cash in at any time, but if you accumulate $200 worth of points they give you $50 extra.

I tend to let it accumulate to pass $200 to get the extra $50 and use it for gifts or, ahem, a new 3G iPhone.
posted by beowulf573 at 10:28 AM on July 10, 2008

I have a Wachovia Visa card that has a decent rewards program and have had no real complaints about the customer service; there have been a few hassles but generally resolved to my satisfaction. I have had it in one form or another since 1985 when it was a First Atlanta Visa. Have you looked at Bankrate.com?
posted by TedW at 10:34 AM on July 10, 2008

Chase Freedom looks good, but if you didn't like Chase for Amazon they won't be any different. But there are similar cards from other banks, and Citi has the advantage of - IIRC - having a one-time-number generator to buy things from semi-untrustworthy sources online.

(As a side note, did this really need to be anonymous?)
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:30 AM on July 10, 2008

Hi there. You might want to check out Card Advisor on Visa's site.
posted by cior at 11:46 AM on July 10, 2008

I use my Amex Blue Cash for everything I can, and it is just fine. If I got another one, I would probably get whatever Amtrak card they're giving out these days, as the Amtrak benefits sent me back from Florida in a sleeper, and that was quite nice.

As an aside, I'd like to check in: The main reason why I prefer credit to debit is that with credit, I do not hold any risk for a particular transaction. With debit, once the transaction is completed, the money is gone and I have to fight to get it back. When I use my Amex, if there is an issue with any transaction, it's Amex's money that is in limbo, not mine. If someone steals a debit card, I have to jump through hoops upon hoops to get money back that is MINE in the first place. If someone steals my debit card and charges thousands of dollars to it, my checking account is empty. With my Amex card, they may hit the limit, Why take the risk? I specifically refuse the debit portion of my ATM cards.

I am a responsible adult, not a child, and I spend no different on credit than I would if I were to pay cash. $50 worth of groceries in cash is $50 worth of groceries on my Amex. Those who can not limit their spending to a predetermined budget will overspend with cash just like they would on credit, except they've got a lot more extra dough to spend on credit than just the limited cash at hand.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 12:13 PM on July 10, 2008

Given your minimal needs, I'd say you don't really need anything special, save for a card with no annual fee. Is there a local credit union you can join? Many CUs offer some form of a VISA card, usually with a relatively low rate (not relevant since you pay your monthly balance) and no annual fee.
Rewards are another matter. YMMV.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:28 PM on July 10, 2008

I'm happy with my new Capital One visa also. It's 1% cash back but I think they do a 2% version also.

The reason I went with it is that it's 0% international transaction fee rather than 3% -- in case you travel at all.

Best of all, you can personalise it with a background from a photo you upload. (I haven't done it yet... but I shall...)
posted by NailsTheCat at 12:34 PM on July 10, 2008

Geckwoistmeinauto: "The main reason why I prefer credit to debit is that with credit, I do not hold any risk for a particular transaction. With debit, once the transaction is completed, the money is gone and I have to fight to get it back."

This is a common misconception. If you use your debit card with a PIN, sure, you only have whatever protection your bank or issuer offers you. However, if you run your debit card as credit, as I always do, you have the same protection. Read Visa's policy on this:

"The Zero Liability policy covers all Visa credit and debit card transactions processed over the Visa network—online or off. The only transactions not covered under the Zero Liability policy are commercial card, ATM, and non-Visa-branded PIN transactions."

And here's MasterCard's policy, which is essentially the same.

Just saying.
posted by joshrholloway at 12:51 PM on July 10, 2008 [3 favorites]

I have a Citi Dividends card. I like it better than Chase because they give you actual cash back (as in they mail you a check). I've had nothing but positive experiences with Citibank.
posted by reenum at 1:06 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you travel much, I would recommend getting a Capital One card, because there are no foreign transaction fees (they even eat the 1% fee that Visa charges them!) I just got one because I'm about to spend a few months abroad. Also, if your credit is solid, you can get a card with a good rewards program without an annual fee. (I'm a student with limited credit, so I would have had to pay $40 a year to get miles or cashback - no thanks!) However, I haven't used it yet, so I can't speak to the custserv aspect, though.

I've also had a Citi card for a little over a year and they don't bug me or charge me any fees.
posted by folara at 1:48 PM on July 10, 2008

I highly recommend FatWallet's "Which Credit Card Should I Get? FAQ"

It is an up-to-date list of the top credit cards, sorted by how you'd expect to use them.
posted by progressor at 2:04 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

"Zero liability" sounds great, but you can be sure that it is interpreted quite ... liberally .. by the banks. They have to 'give' your money back after it's debited out. Banks don't make money by 'giving money' away. Even if it does turn out positively for the consumer, between the initial debit and the final reconciliation, use of the disputed funds is lost. A bank may feel charitable and temporarily put the funds back as a 'courtesy credit', but it's just that, a courtesy. Who knows whether the bank will decide that it wants to keep your money, and then it's up to the arbitrators to decide -- cause you can't sue a bank anymore.

Instead of that mess, I collect interest on my checking funds while Amex and the merchants pay the float on my daily purchases. Not a bad deal, eh?
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 2:06 PM on July 10, 2008

Chase Freedom has worked for me as well. Couldn't tell you about fees as I usually pay off in full - never been hassled about anything. The 3% back is excellent and easy to redeem. You can actually apply your cash back to your creditcard bill, instant free money, no cashing necessary.
posted by jourman2 at 4:09 PM on July 10, 2008

Mod note: a few comments removed - this is really not a thread about whether to use a debit or a credit card, please do not make it one. thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:43 PM on July 10, 2008

Chase is from the devil...I'm sorry they messed with you but I'm glad I'm not the only one. I also had problems with Capital One, which made me sad because they were rocking the 7.9% interest right up until they decided they weren't.

I've had a Citibank card since 1994, and they haven't pissed me off enough to cancel yet, so I guess that's sayin' something.
posted by kattyann at 10:26 PM on July 10, 2008

Citi's Driver's Edge card gives you 6% at gas stations, grocery stores, and pharmacies for the first year, and 3% after that. They recently instituted an earnings cap, though, and they won't just send you a check.

You can either convert the rebates into thankyou points and redeem them for whatever gift cards are available or get a statement credit after you send them an invoice for some auto-related expense. (or a car purchase).

Citi Professional is also good, thanks to the restaurant earnings. I need to get one sometime.
posted by wierdo at 12:34 AM on July 11, 2008

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