Visa credit cards are not issued by Visa but do carry the Visa logo. Visa operates a global payment processing network, and banks and financial institutions issue credit cards for which transactions are processed through the Visa network. Credit cards are a type of loan product that you can use to make purchases at vendors and merchants around the world.
When you apply for a credit card, the card issuer evaluates your credit application and determines whether you have sufficient income and a good enough credit history to qualify for a card. If you are approved, the credit card issuer provides you with a credit limit that you can access through your card. You can use your Visa credit card at any business that displays the Visa payment logo. Standard point-of-sale terminals are equipped to handle transactions for cards carrying both the Visa and MasterCard logos.
When you swipe your credit card through a POS terminal, the terminal transmits your account information through the Visa network to the card issuer. The card issuer approves your transaction or declines it if you lack available funds. If the card issuer approves the transaction, the merchant accepting payment processes the transaction through the Visa payment system. Merchants pay a small fee for processing transactions through Visa and the other payment networks. Visa facilitates the transfer of funds from your card issuer to the merchant accepting payment.
You can also use your Visa credit card to make purchases online or over the phone. You simply provide the merchant with the 16-digit account number printed on the front of your card as well as your name and billing address. Most vendors also ask you to provide the customer verification value (CVV) listed on the signature panel on the back of your card. All Visa credit cards have a CVV number, as do cards with the MasterCard logo, although cards payable through some other payment processing firms do not have a CVV number.
When you use your Visa credit card you have a grace period that normally lasts for up to 21 days within which you must repay the balance you used, otherwise you have to pay interest. If you exceed your card limit or miss a monthly payment, your card issuer notifies the credit reporting bureaus, and this impacts your credit score. However, Visa neither monitors your card usage nor makes any reports to the credit reporting agencies, as you are not actually a customer of Visa.