Top Major Credit Card Companies List & Stats
If you’re new to credit cards, the different terms and concepts can often be quite confusing. It’s important to understand the very basics of credit cards if you’re considering applying for a new card. Most credit cards aren’t the products of one company – they come from a mix of card issuers, credit card companies, and lenders. There are also major credit cards that have specific benefits for cardholders – credit cards from the same lender can have different benefits entirely.
This article is dedicated to providing you with all the information you need to understand every component of a credit card. We’ll explore credit card companies, credit card networks, and some of the major credit cards on the market.
What are Credit Card Companies?
Credit card companies are the organizations that you deal with when you apply for a credit card. They decide whether to approve your card application and open your account. In effect, they are your lender – they issue you with your credit card. Credit card companies will send you bills, accept your credit card payments, service other aspects of your account, and provide you with replacement cards. Some credit card companies also offer rewards or bonuses to their cardholders.
Many credit card companies are traditional lenders – they have a wide range of lending products in addition to credit cards. Other credit card companies only provide credit cards, but this is not overly common. You will most likely be familiar with some of the major credit card companies on the market. The most popular include Chase, Capital One, Bank of America, BBVA Compass, and Citibank.
What are Credit Card Networks?
While you might already understand what a credit card company is, there’s a higher chance you’re unfamiliar with credit card networks. Credit card networks are companies that provide credit card processing when you purchase items – they also dictate where the card is usable. Business owners must agree with credit card networks to allow for payment processing on-site. Credit card networks charge a payment processing percentage fee for the convenience of processing payments for customers.
In addition to the previously mentioned conditions, credit card networks also provide added benefits to customers. Many credit card networks offer additional purchase protection and insurance for cardholders. You can find out the specifics of your additional benefit by looking at your credit card contract. At present, four major credit card networks are operating around the world: Discover, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
Store Credit Cards
Store credit cards are much less common than traditional credit cards. Store credit cards don’t typically belong to a card network. Most store cards are only usable at the store specified at the front of the credit card. Most of these credit cards offer their customers considerable benefits for purchasing goods or services from specific stores. If you’re a regular customer of a particular store, a store credit card can sometimes be a good option – just don’t try to use it anywhere else!
How Can I Find Out My Credit Card Company and Network?
You most likely already know the credit card company and network associated with your current credit card. If for some reason you don’t, it’s straightforward to find out. With most credit cards, the credit card network logo and the name is visible in the bottom right-hand corner of the card. The credit card company logo will either be visible clearly somewhere else on the card – credit card company logo locations may vary.
So, why is it so important to understand who your credit card network and company are? If you don’t know who your credit card company is, you won’t be able to contact them if you have an issue with your account. If your payment is declined, you will need to contact your credit card company to resolve any issues. If you have questions about other benefits such as certain fraud protections or insurance, you will need to contact the credit card network on your card.
There are two instances where you will only see one logo on the card. Discover and American Express are both credit card companies and credit card networks. They are credit card networks that issue their own cards and control every aspect of the process. While American Express acts as a network for some credit card companies, they issue the majority of their cards.
Below is a graphic displaying a common credit card design and indicators of where to look for credit card companies or logos:
Major Credit Card Companies: The Main Players
There are a lot of different credit card providers in the United States. Credit cards are some of the most popular lending vehicles in the country – companies understand that customers want a quick and easy way to spend money and accumulate rewards points. For example, you can compare credit card rewards in another article. While there are plenty of credit card companies that you’ve never heard of, there are a few that dominate the game. Below is a table exhibiting market share of credit card providers in the United States credit card market:
Source: December 2016 data (Federal Reserve and Nilson Report)
Below we will explore the top credit card companies in further detail. If you’d like to learn more about the prospective companies you can work with, make sure to read through all our research below!
American Express is often considered the Rolls Royce of credit card companies. The company is most famous for their charge cards – they provide their cardholders with significant rewards and plenty of cardholder benefits. As mentioned previously, American Express is one of two companies that acts as both a credit card company and a credit card network. The company has various credit cards available, many of which have no limit.
The company initially started operating in 1850 in New York City. At present, the company is the third most extensive network in the world – only behind MasterCard and Visa. It is one of the largest credit card companies on the planet. While their cards are accepted at many locations, the high processing fee they charge means they’re not as widely accepted as Visa and MasterCard – at least from an international perspective.
Bank of America
Bank of America was established on the West Coast in the early 1900s. The company has since grown into one of the world’s largest lenders. They provide a range of financial services to their customers and clients. While most people know Bank of America for their bank accounts and banking services, they’re also one of the largest credit card providers on the planet.
Bank of America is very popular with customers looking to have all their financial products under one roof. If you’re looking to work with a lender that can provide you with investment advice, mortgages, loans, deposit accounts, and credit cards – Bank of America is probably a good option. As one of the most robust financial institutions in the country, they’re a credit card company with plenty of power.
BBVA Compass is an expanding regional bank that provides credit cards to consumers. The bank was established in 1964 but was recently acquired by BBVA – a large Spanish bank with a presence around the world. At present, the majority of BBVA’s credit card holders live in Texas, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Alabama, and Florida.
The bank also offers traditional deposit accounts, mortgages, lines of credit, and personal loans. Their credit card offering includes rewards cards, regular credit cards, and even secured credit cards for those who lack a credit history.
- Uses Deferred Interest: Unclear
- Chargeback Policy: Good – Zero-Liability Policy
- Balance Transfer Policy: Allow balance transfers
- Foreign Transaction Fees: Some cards have no fee, others 3%
Barclays is one of the largest banks in Europe – the UK-based institution issued the first credit card in the UK in 1964. The company has a storied history as one of the largest lenders in Great Britain. In 2004, Barclays began issuing credit cards in the USA under the name Barclaycard – this official name wasn’t used until 2008.
Barclaycard has a range of different credit cards available on the market. They often partner with other brands to bring rewards cards to consumers. You might not realize it, but one of your current credit cards could be issued by Barclaycard – especially if it’s a rewards card.
Established in 2005, Capital One has quickly expanded into one of the nation’s largest credit card providers. They’re known for their aggressive marketing campaigns and big-budget advertisements. Capital One has also begun aggressively opening local branches for traditional banking services and deposit accounts – they now have over 1,000 locations.
Capital One is popular for providing credit cards to people with average credit backgrounds. They are used as a great way to build credit or restore damaged confidence. While some of their options are credit cards for people with poor credit histories, others have significant rewards. The Capital One Quicksilver credit card is their most important rewards card.
Chase is the largest bank in the United States. The company is known as one of the most popular consumer lenders in the nation. With over 250,000 employees in the country, you can rest assured that Chase covers every component of financial services. The giant bank offers some of the best rewards credit cards on the market. They partner with some of the largest airlines in the country.
While credit cardholders can earn rewards specific to individual airlines, they can also reap rewards that are redeemable through Chase’s rewards program. Chase has one of the most extensive credit card rewards initiatives in the country. The lender is very popular with people looking for premium credit cards – they’re usually only accessible to individuals with solid credit backgrounds.
Citibank is another large lender in the United States – this multi-national bank has a presence in almost every region on the planet. As with Chase, Citibank looks to work with credit card applicants that have strong credit scores – they’re not a card company for people with a lack of credit history.
While Citibank does offer ‘cashback’ and other rewards cards, they’re most well-known for their balance transfer cards. These cards provide users with long zero-interest periods that can help people pay off large credit card balances without accruing extra costs!
Discover is another credit card company that also acts as a credit card network. They are the smallest of the major credit card networks in the United States. Discover first started large-scale operation in 2007. They’re not accepted at as many locations as other major credit card networks, but they have aggressively expanded their network.
Discover is known for their cash-back cards – many of which offer cash-back bonuses on different purchases each month. They also offer credit cards for college students for people studying full-time at college. The company is well-known for providing breakdowns of spending habits and helping their customers better manage their money.
PNC might be one of the largest banks in the country – it’s currently 6th – but it’s still considered a regional lender. PNC is now operational in 19 states within the country. PNC is a traditional consumer and commercial bank that provides a range of financial services to individuals. If you’re looking for a regional lender that offers regular accounts, loans, mortgages, and credit cards, PNC is a popular choice.
PNC offers excellent deals for credit card customers who have good credit scores. They have rewards cards and premium cards targeted at applicants with solid credit backgrounds. Also, they have secured credit cards that give credit card access to customers with poor credit histories. These credit cards require a deposit before opening a credit account.
The United States Automobile Association (USAA) is a financial services organization that provides a variety of services to US military members and their families. Not only does USAA provide banking products and loans, they also provide cut-rate insurance policies for their members.
USAA offers credit cards to those eligible for their services. While they aren’t as big as some of the commercial banks on the market, they’re still in the top 15 issuers in the country.
US Bank is another one of the largest banks in the country – it is currently the 5th largest bank in the nation. The bank initially formed in 1968 – it has since grown to include over 3,000 nationwide branches. The bank also operates over 4,700 ATMs. US Bank provides services related to retail banking, commercial banking, investment banking, financial products, private equity, and credit cards. It is currently headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
US Bank has grown popular with many customers because they offer credit cards to customers with a range of different credit scores. If you’re looking to build your credit history, this lender could be a good company to work with. Read more about how to build credit with a credit card.
At present, Wells Fargo is the second largest bank in the United States – it’s also one of the oldest banking institutions in the country. It first started operating in 1852. Wells Fargo received a lot of criticism for many scandals in recent years – the bank was opening accounts without specific customers realizing. Regardless, the bank remains a top performer in terms of the size of deposits and customer base.
While Wells Fargo doesn’t have as many credit card options as Chase or Bank of America, they still have some decent credit cards on offer if you’re looking for something that provides rewards or low-interest introductory periods. This can be a great place to find the best credit card with low interest rate offers.
Major Credit Card Networks
There are only four major credit card networks currently operating in the United States: Discover, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. As mentioned previously, Discover and American Express also produce their own credit card companies. The network you choose is essential – they dictate the extra benefits and protections that you receive. Also, they make agreements with business owners to process payments.
If you choose a network that doesn’t have an agreement with the businesses you shop at, you won’t be able to use your credit card to purchase goods or services. So, what are the most extensive networks in the US and how big are their market shares? Check out our table below!
Source: 2016 data (SEC filings)
Top Credit Cards
Choosing the right credit card can be an arduous process. You need to assess what you value in a credit card. If you’re someone who pays off your balance in full, it’s best to use a credit card that provides you with added rewards and bonuses. If you’re someone who has to carry a balance on your credit card, it’s best to use a card that has a very low-interest rate.
If you have a bad credit score, it’s essential to choose a credit card that will accept your credit background. You don’t want to end up with an unnecessary credit inquiry on your credit report. Below we will take a look at all the top credit cards available right now:
|Category||Card Featured||Credit Rating||Our Score|
|Travel Rewards||Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||Good||4.8 / 5|
|Cash Back||Citi® Double Cash Card||Good||4.7/5|
|Initial Bonus||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Excellent||4.6/5|
|0% Purchases||Citi Simplicity® Card||Good||4/5|
|Balance Transfer||The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card||Good||4.8/5|
|Fair Credit||Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card||Minimal History||4.8/5|
|Limited Credit||Capital One® Platinum Credit Card||Minimal History||4.9/5|
|Bad Credit||Discover it® Secured||Minimal History||4.5/5|
|College Students||Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®||Minimal History||4.8/5|
|Business Owners||Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business||Good||4.7/5|
Verdict: Why Credit Card Companies and Credit Card Networks Matter
So, you may still be wondering why all of this is so important? Credit cards can be an extremely valuable asset if you know how to use them. Choosing the right credit card can save you time and hassle. If you choose a credit card network that provides great additional benefits, you’ll be able to cut down your costs on insurance and fraud. Also, if you choose a credit card company that provides you with great rewards or cash back, you’ll be able to find much more value in your spending.
When you apply for a credit card, make sure to go through all the terms and conditions prior to making any commitments. You want to make sure you’re choosing the right company and network. You also want to be certain your credit card will be accepted at as many locations as possible. If you live outside of the United States, you’ll find that some networks have less coverage in your area.
If you’re looking for additional information on credit cards, credit card networks, and great credit cards you can apply for, such as the best no fee travel credit card, make sure to check out the rest of our content. We have a wealth of resources available for people who are looking to apply for a new credit card.
Financial Advisor - Best.CreditCard
Michelle is part of our expert team of financial advisors with a proven track record in the credit card industry. After graduating with an Economics Degree focusing on Personal Finance, she got involved with several credit and debt counseling startups.