Every credit card has unique features and benefits depending on the card issuer—that is, the bank or credit union that issues the card. But there may be additional card benefits based on the payment network that the card belongs to. For example, if you have a Visa card that’s part of the Visa Signature or Visa Infinite collection, you’ll also get to access some premium perks and benefits.
Visa Signature cards offer extra features beyond what you’d find with an entry-level card, and Visa Infinite is a tier above that. That said, even if you have a Visa Signature or Visa Infinite card, it doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get every benefit available; that’s ultimately up to the bank or credit union that issues the card. Your best bet is to call your issuer to request your card’s guide to benefits so you can read all the fine print.
Visa and Mastercard are examples of payment processing networks that help facilitate payments. Credit card issuers are the banks and credit unions backing the card. The exceptions to this are American Express and Discover, which are both the issuer and the payment processor.
A Look at Visa Signature Benefits
Visa Signature cards have a long list of benefits that are available to cardholders, depending on the issuer. Here’s a closer look at some of the features available.
Built-In Auto Rental Coverage
This is secondary insurance to cover you for damage or theft, reasonable and customary towing, and loss-of-use charges on eligible rental cars. This benefit reimburses you for the deductible and other expenses not covered by your regular car insurance.
If you’re stuck on the road, you can use this pay-per-use roadside assistance program. Rates are pre-negotiated, with a current standard price of $69.95 for services like standard towing up to five miles, tire changing, jump-starting, fuel delivery, etc.
If your checked baggage is delayed or misdirected for more than four hours, you can be reimbursed up to $300 for necessities you purchase.
Lost Luggage Reimbursement
You can be reimbursed up to $3,000 per trip for the difference between the “value of the amount claimed” and the common carrier’s payment.
Trip Delay Reimbursement
Receive up to $300 to cover costs if you’re stuck for more than 12 hours.
Emergency Medical and Dental Insurance
Get reimbursed for emergency medical or dental expenses you incur when traveling ($2,500 maximum), supplemental to any other insurance coverage.
If you are seriously injured or sick when traveling, this benefit can cover transportation needed to get you to the nearest medical facility for treatment, up to $10,000.
Global Entry Credit
Apply for Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program, and use your Visa Infinite card to pay the application fee (currently $100) to receive a $100 statement credit.
Travel and Emergency Assistance
You’ll get access to a 24/7 multilingual call center in case you’re traveling and need someone who can help connect you with local assistance, whether you lose your passport, need legal representation, or seek medical help.
Cardholders can take advantage of a concierge who can help you book hotels, flights, cars, excursions, restaurant reservations, tickets to events, and more.
Special Status at Visa Signature Hotels
With 900 properties worldwide, if you book a reservation with your card via the Visa Concierge or the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel website, you can enjoy some perks, including:
- An upgrade to the next highest room class for the duration of your stay
- A $25 food/beverage credit
- Complimentary continental breakfast daily for you and a guest
- Free Wi-Fi
- Late checkout
Extended Warranty Protection
Using your Visa Signature card may double the manufacturer’s warranty up to one additional year on eligible warranties.
If you pay your monthly wireless bill with your card, you can get reimbursed if your cellphone is stolen or damaged ($50 deductible).
Purchase Security and Return Protection
If an item you purchase is stolen or damaged within the first 90 days, purchase security may be able to replace, repair, or reimburse you for the item (up to $500). Also, if you’re not satisfied with a purchase of an item up to $250 within 90 days, you may be eligible for a refund.
What Visa Infinite Offers
Visa Infinite cards offer a higher tier of benefits for higher-tier cardholders. The Infinite status bumps many of the above Visa Signature benefits up a level and adds a few extras on top.
Airport Lounge Access
Enjoy VIP access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the globe with Priority Pass. (Visa Signature cardholders have access to only 850 airport lounges.)
Primary Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
Because it’s primary coverage, you won’t have to use your personal car insurance to file a claim for theft, damage, valid loss-of-use charges imposed and substantiated by the auto rental company, administrative fees, and reasonable and customary towing charges.
Purchase Security and Return Protection
These benefits work the same way as Visa Signature’s, but the coverage is better. Purchase security will award up to $10,000 in the case of theft or damage to a retail purchase within 90 days. And the return protection covers up to $300 instead of $250.
Trip Delay Reimbursement
This benefit is supplemental coverage—meaning it will cover whatever other reimbursements do not—up to $500 per ticket if your trip is delayed for six hours or more. (Note the higher dollar allowance and less delay time required as compared to the Visa Signature benefit.)
Trip cancellation and interruption benefits pay up to $2,000 per insured person for nonrefundable common carrier tickets, but there are specific restrictions as to what types of reasons are covered.
Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Added Benefit
Besides the perks listed for Visa Signature cardholders, an added Visa Infinite benefit is available at more than 200 properties in the collection. It may include an additional $75 food and beverage credit or a $100 credit to use toward a spa visit, a round of golf, or your room rate.
How Visa Signature and Infinite Compare
Visa Signature card offers a solid selection of well-rounded travel benefits and consumer protections, which you’d expect to find in rewards credit card categories aimed at customers with good or excellent credit. Visa Infinite privileges are for more elite cards, such as those that have annual fees in the range of a few hundred dollars. For instance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card, which has a $95 fee, is a Visa Signature card; the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, with a $550 fee, is a Visa Infinite card.
Because those cards are reserved for those with excellent credit who tend to travel and spend more, the suite of benefits is elevated (higher dollar amounts, fewer restrictions) to accommodate the VIP traveler lifestyle.
|Visa Signature||Visa Infinite|
|Rental car collision insurance||Secondary to your own||Primary|
|Roadside dispatch||Fee-based assistance||Fee-based assistance|
|Baggage delay||After 4 hours; $300||Check benefits guide|
|Lost luggage||Up to $3,000 per trip||Check benefits guide|
|Trip delay reimbursement||After 12 hours; $300||After six hours; $500|
|Emergency medical insurance||Secondary; up to $2,000||Check benefits guide|
|Emergency evacuation||Up to $10,000||Check benefits guide|
|Global entry/TSA PreCheck credit||$100||$100|
|Travel and emergency assistance||Help and advice, 24/7||Help and advice, 24/7|
|VIP status at luxury hotels||Room upgrades, $25 food and beverage credit, continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi, late checkout||Signature benefits, plus more hotels enrolled; $75 food and beverage or $100 resort fee credits|
|Extended warranties||Up to an additional year||Up to an additional year|
|Cellphone protection||Yes; $50 deductible||N/A|
|Purchase and return protection||Up to $500/$250||Up to $10,000/$300|
|Trip cancellation/interruption||Yes (see benefits guide for details)||Up to $2,000|
The best way to decide which credit card is right for you is to look at a number of factors, starting with your own spending style and credit status. From there, you can compare card types to find the one that provides the best value for you and decide if paying an annual fee makes sense for the amount of spending you do. Finally, you can think of additional payment processor perks offered by Visa or Mastercard, as well as those from the issuers themselves, as tie-breakers.
If it’s a toss-up between applying for a Visa Signature or a Visa Infinite card, there’s little doubt that the latter offers superior features and benefits. But only you can decide if those differences are significant enough to influence your choice (and potentially pay a higher annual fee). Really think about if you will use the card in such a way that you can actually access or activate those extra perks, and be sure to double-check with your issuer that you do, in fact, get the benefits that are of most interest to you.
No matter which card you choose, it’s always a good idea to understand all the benefits available to you so you can maximize them as needed, as well as how much value you can derive from the card overall.
The Balance does not provide tax, investment, or financial services and advice. The information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal.