Vascular accesses are essential for effective dialysis treatment. Arteriovenous fistulas, grafts and central venous catheters are the options available to the nephrologist, but they all have their pros and cons. All of the 3 types of vascular access share the same complications but at different rates, and their costs vary enormously, with on balance the arteriovenous fistula being the best choice. Nevertheless, recently the number of incident patients starting dialysis treatment with a venous catheter as vascular access has been steadily increasing. This is true even for more advanced countries such as the United States, where despite the efforts made to promote the use of fistulas, their prevalence is still low compared with Europe. Moreover, nowadays nephrologists are required to master technical skills that once were those of surgeons and to perform interventions to preserve the patency of the access. The aim of this paper is to review the prevalence, benefits and complications of the different vascular accesses in light of the most recent findings.