What is a 'Visa Card'

A Visa card is any type of payment card utilizing the Visa network and branded by Visa Inc. Cards may include credit, debit or prepaid cards.


Visa cards are available to individual and business customers through a range of financial institution partnerships. Financial institutions can choose between a number of network service providers for transaction processing and card branding.

Visa Card Variations

Typically a financial institution will choose to partner with a single transaction processing network provider such as Visa for all of their payment card products. Each issuer sets its own terms and conditions for the Visa cards it offers and decides which customers to offer Visa cards to.

Visa credit cards will consider a user’s credit profile in card issuance with varying standards of credit established by the issuing financial institution for card approval. Visa credit cards may also come with numerous card advantages such as 0% introductory APRs, cash back rewards and special benefits when shopping with a particular retailer. Debit Visa cards are cards issued in association with a deposit account at a financial institution such as a checking or savings account. Debit Visa cards are subject to the authorization of a financial institution in relation to a deposit account. Prepaid card services will typically vary since they may be associated with a bank or fintech company seeking to offer prepaid card products to customers.

Visa Payment Network

Among all Visa cards the common thread is that each relies on the Visa payment processing network. Partnering with Visa as a primary payment processing network allows for payment to be taken electronically and debited or credited to a cardholders account when making purchases with merchants that accept Visa cards. Visa is a prominent processing network and their cards are accepted by businesses in more than 200 countries and territories across the world. Other payment processing companies with ownership of payment processing networks include Mastercard, American Express and Discover.

Visa partners with companies across the world to facilitate transaction processing for both banks and merchants. Financial institutions and fintech companies can establish service agreements with Visa for branded cards that use the Visa network. Service agreements include bank transaction fees and Visa network charges. Visa also partners with merchants through varying types of service agreements. Merchants that accept Visa cards pay Visa Inc. a small transaction fee for each customer transaction as part of the cost for the network processing services that Visa Inc. provides.

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