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Difference Between American Express and Visa

Difference Between American Express and Visa


I have come across people who have been left puzzled by what credit or gift card brand to use. A good number of them usually are torn between two choices, American Express or Visa. The truth is they operate similarly but have unique features that make them different and in some cases better than the other. It is only right that we differentiate both of them to avoid confusion.

American Express

Short-form AMEX, American Express first started as a freight forwarding company in 1850. In 1950 they added a charge card to their product log. Since then they have almost totally switched to providing payment cards to their customers. In 2017 Forbes declared them the 23rd most valuable company in the world. So what do they do? They provide financial services. Their main aim in the financial services industry is to make payments easier for their customers through the use of their credit and gift cards.

Visa Inc.

Visa Inc. is an American multinational company like American Express that makes payment cards that operate on the Visa network. They are also classified as a financial services company. Originally they started with just credit cards before they included Debit and Gift cards.

Looking at their descriptions it is clear that they are both in the same industry, providing the same type of services, and are doing it at the highest standard. So how do you know which one to use and why? Let us now differentiate them to answer the question.

The Difference

Apart from their brand names and identity there are other factors that differentiate these payment card suppliers and they include:

  1. Visa is more accepted than American Express worldwide. This is probably due to AMEX’s high-interest rates and card fees compared to Visa’s
  2. American Express is a card issuer and a payment network while Visa is just a payment network. However, Visa has its own brand of gift cards.
  3. American Express has in-house customer service so it tends to be more effective than Visa’s customer service. This is because American Express is a card issuer and Visa isn’t so when customers want to complain about Visa’s card they call one of their Card issuer partners.
  4. Visa is available in more countries than American Express. Visa is accepted in 200 countries. 30 more countries than American Express 170 countries.
  5. For clients in African countries like Nigeria and Ghana etc American Express credit cards are almost unusable for them because it’s not accepted in those countries. Visa is accepted in most African countries due to its card-issuing partners. If you have an American Express gift card you can sell it in exchange for cash or Bitcoin. There are vendors that buy and sell gift cards online and some of them have apps too.


These differences should help you make your decision on what brand to use for your credit card or gift card.

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