According to the Federal Reserve, Americans owe more than $1 trillion in credit card debt, which is higher than the GDP of 170 countries. American Express issued the first credit card in 1958, revolutionizing the way people borrow money. Today, an average American has 2.35 credit cards and an average of $5,500 in credit card debt. Here we take a look at the top 10 largest credit card companies in the United States.
There are two types of players in the credit card business – credit card issuers and credit card networks. The card has the names of both the issuer and the network on its front. The issuers are banks and credit unions that issue credit cards to individual users and small businesses. They accept payments, offer rewards, and bill your account for purchases.
Credit card networks such as Visa and MasterCard facilitate payments at the point of sale and handle the processing of your credit card transactions. They also provide secondary benefits such as fraud liability, travel insurance, and extended warranties. Discover and American Express act as both the issuer and the network. These two networks issue their own credit cards. Other networks such as Visa and MasterCard don’t issue their own cards. Instead, they partner with issuers.
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The ranking below includes both the credit card issuers and networks, and is based on the total number of active US cardholders rather than the outstanding credit card debt. It’s based on data from CardRates.
10- US Bank, 18.5 million cardholders
US Bank is one of the largest banks and credit card issuers in the country. While most credit card companies offer credit to people with above-average credit score, the US Bank offers credit to people across the spectrum to help the first timers, small businesses, and students rebuild their credit. It is the 6th largest credit card issuer based on purchase volume.
9- Wells Fargo, 24 million
Wells Fargo is one of the oldest and largest banks in the United States. It offers a wide range of credit cards with exciting offers. Though it has a strong presence in the US banking sector, it’s not equally strong in the credit card market.
8- Bank of America, 32 million
It was founded as ‘Bank of Italy’ in San Francisco in 1904 to cater to the growing immigrant population. It has made numerous acquisitions in its more than a century-long history, including the all-stock deal to buy Merrill Lynch. Bank of America was the first to launch a general-use credit card called BankAmericard, which later became Visa. It has 32 million active credit card holders.
7- Capital One, 45 million
Capital One has credit cards for customers with credit scores ranging from excellent to poor. Founded in 1995, it also offers personal loans, auto loans, and everyday banking products. It charges reasonable fees and offers excellent reward programs. Its Quicksilver Card is one of the most popular everyday cash rewards cards.
6- Citibank, 48 million
Citibank doesn’t have as many credit card holders as many other companies in this list. But when it comes to outstanding credit card debts, Citibank is at the top. It was founded in 1812 as the City Bank of New York. Most of its credit cards and reward programs are aimed at customers with above-average credit rating. It also has co-branded partnerships with Expedia and American Airlines.
5- Discover, 57 million
Discover was one of the first credit card companies to offer a cash back program. It offers cash rewards as well as travel offers on its credit cards. Discover offers excellent fraud protection to let you pay for purchases without having to worry about fraud. It was originally a division of Dean Witter, and became an independent company in 2007.
4- American Express, 58 million
American Express has about 58 million active credit card holders in the United States alone. The company has a strong presence in more than 100 countries. It offers credit cards primarily to people with high income and high credit scores. It explains why American Express is the largest issuer of credit cards based on transactions. Its customers carry out more than 6 billion transactions a year.
3- Chase, 93 million
JPMorgan Chase is the largest bank in the US by deposits. It issues Chase credit cards such as the Freedom rewards cards and Slate cards, which offer free balance transfer. It offers numerous co-branded credit cards in partnership with Southwest Airlines, British Airways, and United Airlines. JPMorgan Chase issues credit cards mainly to people with above-average credit scores.
2- Mastercard, 191 million
Mastercard is the second largest credit card network with more than 191 million active cardholders. It offers excellent identity protection and numerous other benefits. Mastercard processes transactions in almost every country across the globe. It was originally known as Interbank as it was created by an alliance of regional financial institutions in response to BankAmericard.
1- Visa, 323 million
Visa is by far the largest credit card company in the United States. It facilitates fund transfers throughout the world. Visa cards are accepted by more than 10 million merchants. It doesn’t issue its own credit cards, just like Mastercard. Instead, it offers payment products to banks and other credit card issuers.