With the different classes of credit cards offered by Visa and MasterCard, it can be difficult to keep track of what perks are associated with which. Add to the confusion the introduction of a new tier, Visa Infinite, and it can get a little crazy.
At the lowest level, cards simply identified as Visa offer very few inherent benefits. That said, card issuers are known to offer quite a few that can be identified in the benefits agreement that is sent to cardholders. All users, however, will be guaranteed the following:
- Secondary Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
- Emergency Card Replacement and Emergency Cash
- Lost and Stolen Card Reporting
- Zero Liability
The middle tier, Signature, has all the benefits of the traditional Visa with quite a few travel perks.
Visa Signature cards also start with a $5000 minimum credit limit, and card issuers are known to bundle quite a few perks with these cards. Chase, in particular, has the Sapphire Preferred [affiliate link] as well as a variety of hotel and airline cards (United, Hyatt, Marriott, and British Airways) that are all in the Visa family.
The Visa Infinite level was previously only offered outside of the United States, but recently there have been two cards that fall into this category with a third on the way. Of the three, two are issued by Chase (noticing a pattern?). The remaining card is issued by Crystal National Bank. In all cases, the cards come with a fairly steep annual fee – upwards of $400.
As with the Visa Signature and Visa Traditional cards, the Visa Infinite will carry with it all benefits from lower tiers. Both issuing companies offer, TSA PreCheck/Global Entry reimbursement every five years, and travel credits of varying degrees.
The biggest perk offered is the Visa Infinite family is that domestic, coach airfare for two to five people will receive a $100 discount. That is – each time the card is used to purchase more than one ticket (where the cardholder is traveling), you receive a discount of $100. There is no limit to the number of times you can use this, and you can be upgraded after the tickets are purhcased from what I have been able to discern. DoctorOfCredit has a helpful breakdown of this feature.
In the same vein, the biggest disappointment is that the brand new card from Chase, the Sapphire Reserve, will not have this benefit.
As with the traditional Visa, the traditional MasterCard offers the fewest benefits of the MasterCard family. Many of the benefits of this tier are similar to those offered by Visa. Some of the main points can be found below. A full list can be found at MasterCard’s website.
Keeping with the relationship of Visa Signature to Visa traditional, the World MasterCard carries with it all the benefits offered by the traditional MasterCard level.
Just like the Visa Signature, the World MasterCard offers a concierge service and a variety of travel related perks. Interestingly, World MasterCards can be issued with quite low credit limits – sometimes as low as $1000.
- MasterCard Travel Offers
- MasterCard Airport Concierge
- World Air Program
- World Cruise Program
- World Tours and Vacations Program
World Elite MasterCard
The World Elite MasterCard is the luxury level offering in the MasterCard card line. It comes with premium concierge service and a variety of travel benefits. A full list with details can be found on the MasterCard website.
- MasterCard Luxury Hotels & Resorts
- MasterCard Airport Concierge
- Personal Travel Advisor
- World Elite Air Program
- World Elite Private Jet Program
- World Elite Cruise Program
- World Elite Car Rental Program
- World Elite Tours and Vacations Program
Trip Cancellation Insurance
As with the World MasterCard, there is no credit limit requirement, unlike the cards offered by Visa. Similarly, not all World Elite MasterCards come with high annual fees. The Arrival+ card offered by BarclayCard clocks in at $89, for example, while higher tier cards such as the Citi Prestige have a fee that reflects it.