When you hear the word “Visa” you think of credit cards and spending money, right?

The funny thing is, Visa isn’t a bank, it doesn't loan money or issue cards. We explain what Visa does, how it works with banks, types of Visa cards and more.

What is a Visa card?

Visa provides a global payment network that processes transactions between merchants and financial institutions. Basically, it gets money to wherever it needs to go.

Visa isn’t a bank and it doesn’t issue debit or credit cards. Cards are issued by financial institutions that have chosen Visa as a payment platform. A “Visa card” is simply a debit or credit card that uses the Visa network.

Here’s an example; the ANZ Visa Rewards card. ANZ is the bank who issues the card and Visa is the platform that processes all transactions made on the card.


What are the different types of Visa credit cards?

The different types of Visa credit cards depend on the financial institution that issues the cards. They’re the ones who come up with the benefits to offer their customers.

In general, though, these 4 categories are the most common types of credit cards on the Visa platform:

Rewards card

This type of card incentivises you to use it with a points-based rewards program.

You earn a certain number of points per dollar spent and those points can be redeemed for a swag of reward options.

Banks usually offer things like cash back, lifestyle experiences, merchandise, frequent flyer points, or other travel related deals on rewards credit cards.

Low rate card

Low rate credit cards offer a low interest rate on purchases.

A lower rate helps you save on interest if you usually carry a balance month-to-month. Low rate credit cards don’t generally include extra perks - like rewards incentives or international travel insurance.

No annual fee

This category is pretty self-explanatory; you won’t be charged an annual fee for these cards.

This doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun stuff other cards with annual fees offer. There are cards out there without annual fees that still get you goodies like rewards, cash back and more.

Premium card

Premium cards (platinum, gold, or black) offer exclusive benefits. You’ll usually have to meet a certain income or monthly spending minimums to be eligible to apply.

Elite benefits include things like access to 24/7 concierge services, multiple complimentary annual lounge passes, and higher point earnings.

Premium cards carry a higher annual fee than other cards, but if you make full use of the benefits it can be worth it.


Card issuers (not Visa) control fees, interest, and benefits

Visa has nothing to do with setting the interest rate, fees, or benefits for each card. These things are decided by the card issuer.

When choosing a card, it’s more important to compare card issuers, rather than getting too caught up comparing Visa vs other payment platforms. Unlike card interest rates and fees, the main payment platforms are pretty similar.


A world of fun rewards with Visa credit card

The type of rewards depend on the Visa credit card issuer but usually include;

  •  Cashback

  •  Entertainment and lifestyle rewards: dining offers and movie tickets

  •  Travel benefits: Frequent flyer points, accommodation and car rental

  •  Products: Homewares, electronics, gift hampers, health products, to name a few!

  •  Gift cards: Can be redeemed for groceries, petrol, travel and more


Visa Offers + Perks - exclusive deals for Visa users

Anyone who has a Visa card, regardless of the issuer, gets exclusive access to the Visa Offers and Perks program. Enjoy discounts and offers on food, fashion, music and more with hundreds of brands.


Where can Visa credit cards be used?

Visa is one of the most widely accepted payment methods in the world. You can pretty much use it everywhere, just look for the Visa symbol.

If the merchant you’re purchasing from has an exclusive agreement with Mastercard or another payment platform, you won’t be able to use Visa. This is pretty rare though.


Is shopping with a visa card online safe?

Visa makes online shopping as safe as possible. Visa Secure programme is a service provided by Visa helps make shopping online more secure by protecting against unauthorised use of your card.

When making an online purchase you may be presented with an extra step to verify your identity with a one-time passcode or biometrics check. This helps your bank know that it's definitely you and better protects you from fraud.

You can read more about the Visa Secure programme here.


Tips for using your Visa card overseas

Look for the Visa symbol

Whether you’re travelling for work or fun, Visa is an easy and reliable way to pay in foreign currencies wherever you are in the world.

Just look for the Visa Symbol at ATMs and merchants to see where your card will be accepted.

If it’s a smaller store and you see the Visa symbol, it is a good idea to double check with the cashier first if they accept Visa.

Check fees and changes

Before you head off overseas, be sure to check what fees and charges are related to using your visa credit card overseas.

These will include:

Currency conversion fee: charged when paying in foreign currency and
Foreign transaction fee: charged when you make a purchase with an overseas merchant

You’ll be able to find out these costs by logging into your online credit card account or give your financial institution a call.

Set a pin

You might use payWave or a signature when paying with your visa card in Australia but some overseas merchants don’t accept signatures or aren’t set up for payWave. Set a pin before you leave so you don’t get stuck at the checkout!

Depending where you’re travelling, you might also be asked to show ID when using your card.

What to do in an "I lost my card" emergency

If your card has been lost or stolen while travelling, contact Visa’s Global Customer Assistance Services (GCAS) immediately. When overseas, call +1 303 967 1090

Visa’s customer service representatives can provide multilingual assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

GCAS can help you block your Visa card within 30 minutes once it has been reported stolen or lost, protecting you against fraudulent transactions. GCAS can also provide emergency cash and Visa card replacement services wherever you are in the world.


Check out other similar articles:

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards in Australia

Credit Card Hacks: If You Don’t Know Now You Know!

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