A Close Look at the ‘Visa Card’

The Visa card is one of the leading and oldest brands of credit card and debit card. Though it was formally launched in 1976, it was a derived from BankAmericard, which used to be issued by the Bank of America. The Visa International Service Association of San Francisco, California, which is an amalgamation of 20,000 financial institutions operate this brand.

Looking at its corporate structure, Visa has a highly decentralized structure allowing its different members to adapt rules and regulations and features so as to suit their local market nature. Visa comprises of four incorporated companies employing about 6000 people all over the world.

The Visa International Association issues two types of cards – debit card and credit card. In case of debit card, money is deducted from the user’s account when he transacts at a point-of-sale terminal or ATM. Credit card is used at a point-of-sale terminal or ATM for transaction. The amount transacted is billed to you at a later date, which is a month from the date of transaction (or whenever the billing cycle is scheduled for).

Like any other credit card, Visa cards also have the same basic features. You need not pay the bill in full. Instead you can revolve the balance for which you are charged interest. Visa cards are issued for all kinds of people from professionals, merchants, to college students, each meeting various credit requirements. With constant innovation, Visa delivers more choice and convenience. In fact the vision of Visa is to make electronic payment available to all individuals, governments and businesses across the globe.

It also has reward programs. Visa negotiates special offers such as travel deals, perks, and other promotions with some of the top destinations and brands around the world.

In the US you can apply Visa cards for corporate, government, personal, small business and students. Again you have diverse options to suit your credit nature in these categories.

Looking globally, Visa card is used by millions of people all over the world. Apart from point-of-sale, you can also use Visa card to withdraw money at ATMs. There are more than a million ATMs across 160 countries, which operate 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

Round-the-clock emergency assistance to all Visa cardholders is provided. If you are in the US, you can dial this toll-free number 1-800-847-2911 for any assistance. There is a toll-free number designated for each country. If you are a regular traveler, you may also note down the toll-free number of the country you are likely to visit. In case of loss or theft of your card, and for replacement of your card, these numbers will come in handy.

A frequent traveler may also opt to carry a Visa Travelers Check. If you’re traveling in the US, Puerto Rico or Canada, you can call the Visa Travelers Check Global Refund and Assistance for reporting lost or stolen Visa Travelers Checks at 1-800-227-6811.

The popularity of Visa card can also be gauged from the fact that it is a worldwide Olympic partner and hence the only form of electronic payment accepted at Olympic-related transactions and at all Olympic venues. This exclusive right is valid till 2012.

Visa is also an exclusive FIFA partner. This partnership gives Visa access to properties of FIFA worldwide and rights to its activities like competitions, special events, marketing assets and development programs.

Recently the magazine “Reader’s Digest” selected Visa as the most trusted credit card brand in 13 nations of Europe – Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It is worthy to note that the daily Visa usage averaged 98 million transactions and US$6.5 billion.

The banks which are represented on Visa’s U.S.A. board of directors are JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wachovia, US Bancorp, Wells Fargo, Providian Financial Corporation, First National Bank of Nebraska, Texas First Bank, National City Corporation, and SunTrust Bank. JPMorgan Chase is the largest issuer of Visa card and has two seats on Visa’s U.S.A. board of directors.

The logo of Visa is blue and gold representing the blue sky of California and its golden-colored hills.

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