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Largest Credit Card Companies in the United States in 2019

Largest Credit Card Companies in the United States in 2019

December 27, 2018

Editorial Disclaimer: Information in these articles is brought to you by CreditSoup. Banks, issuers, and credit card companies mentioned in the articles do not endorse or guarantee, and are not responsible for, the contents of the articles.

2019 Top Ten List of Credit Card Companies

Most Americans are quite aware that the major credit card companies are constantly vying for their business through television commercials (like the ubiquitous Capital One “What’s in your wallet?” campaigns), direct mail offers, online ads and email. But how many credit card companies are there in the country and which ones are the biggest? When creating a list of the top credit companies there are a several ways to measure size, so it depends on how which metric is considered. The most common method is to rank size based on credit card balances outstanding by issuer. A second way is to look at the total number of cards each company has issued. Another still is based on purchase volume (the total customer spending on issuers’ cards), though that list tends to favor issuers of charge cards, like American Express. Charge or purchase volume often reflects business-related travel and entertainment expenses that can be larger than other spending categories. Surprisingly, these various ranking factors tend to mix up the relative position among the largest credit card issuers in the U.S., but we’ve chosen to present all three to provide perspective.

Another thing to consider, which many such lists fail to distinguish, is that companies like Visa and MasterCard are not credit card companies at all, but rather credit card networks that member organizations like Chase and Citibank belong to in order issue their branded cards to the public. For that reason, we have ranked the card networks separately by market share. And, as a final distinction, American Express and Discover are both networks and issuers, so they appear in both issuer and network lists. Credit card networks are the companies that operate the card acceptance, funds transfer, clearing and settlement infrastructure and processes that allow credit cards to work for consumers and merchants. Major credit card companies are typically divisions of large banks, savings banks and credit unions that have rights and permissions to issue cards from one or more of the four networks directly to consumers. Issuers earn revenue from charging interest on credit card balances that are carried month to month, through annual fees (if any) and merchant swipe fees, which they charged to merchants who accept credit cards for payment and then are split between issuing bank and the network.

Below is an overview of the 10 largest major credit card brands based on outstanding balances. Issuers of major credit cards have very recognizable corporate brand images as they often have huge branch banking networks with a national footprint. Also listed below are charts with a ranked list of credit card companies based on different factors including outstanding balances, number of cards in circulation and purchase volume along with a ranking of the four card networks by cards in circulation. Credit card names are sometimes abbreviated in these lists, as with Citi for Citibank, Amex for American Express or Barclays for Barclaycard.

Overview and history of the largest credit card companies

(by outstanding balances as of 12/31/17)

1. Chase ($126 billion)

Chase

Chase credit cards are issued by JPMorgan Chase & Company, which is one of the oldest and largest financial institutions in the world. The bank can trace its roots all the way back to 1799 in New York City. JPMorgan Chase has formed over many years through numerous mergers with Chase Manhattan Bank, including Manufacturers Hanover Trust, Chemical Bank, Bank One, National Bank of Detroit and, most recently, Bear Sterns Companies (following the financial crisis of 2008). Chase issues a wide array of consumer and small business credit cards, most notably the Chase Freedom card, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Ink Business Preferred credit card. Chase also offers numerous co-branded cards in partnership with companies like British Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Hyatt, Ritz Carlton, Marriott and Choice hotels.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Credit Recommended (660-850):
Good/Excellent
Learn More
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Editor’s Rating: 4.8
4.8
Credit Recommended (660-850):
Good/Excellent
Rewards Rate
2X points on travel and dining
Intro Rewards Bonus
50,000 bonus points
Foreign Trans Fee
$0
Learn More on Chase secure website.
Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Credit Recommended
Good/Excellent

Highlights

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
See additional details for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

2. Bank of America ($101 billion)

Bank of America

Bank of America was originally founded as the Bank of Italy in San Francisco, California in 1904. The bank began issuing credit cards in California under the name BankAmericaCard in 1958 through a consortium of banks. This association was spun off and eventually renamed Visa in 1977. BofA is now a member bank of Visa in terms of issuing credit cards to the public. Bank of America is one of the largest financial services companies in the world and controls approximately 11% of US bank deposits. Its credit cards include popular cash back products like the Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card and Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card.

Credit Recommended:
Excellent
Intro (Purchases)
0% for 9 billing cycles
Annual Fee
$0.00
Regular APR
13.49% - 23.49% Variable APR on purchases
Apply Now on Bank of America - Credit Cards secure website.
Intro Rewards Bonus
$200 statement credit when you make at least $500 in net purchases within 60 days of your account opening.
Product Type
Business
Credit Recommended
Excellent

Highlights

  • Get a $200 statement credit when you make at least $500 in net purchases within 60 days of your account opening – with no annual fee, no cap on the amount of cash rewards you can earn and they don't expire.
  • 3% cash back on purchases at gas stations and office supply stores (up to $250,000 each calendar year, 1% after that), 2% on purchases at restaurants, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • 0% Introductory APR on purchases for your first 9 billing cycles.
  • Redeem your cash rewards as a statement credit, check, or have cash deposited into a Bank of America® checking or savings account.
  • Plus, if you're a Business Advantage Relationship Rewards client, you can get up to a 75% rewards bonus on the base earn of every purchase you make. Your rewards bonus is based on your enrolled tier – Gold 25%; Platinum 50%; or Platinum Honors 75%.

3. American Express ($89 billion)

American Express

American Express was originally founded in Buffalo, NY in 1850 as an express mail company and ventured into financial services in 1857 after launching its money order business. Travelers cheques as a new solution to letters of credit established American Express as a global company and brand in the late 1800’s. In 1958 American Express began issuing charge cards to the public, targeting the travel, dining and entertainment expenses of business people. The original cards were made of paper but later moved to embossed plastic in 1959. American Express launched its iconic gold card in 1966 and debuted the platinum card in 1984. Today, American Express continues to issue charge cards but also offers an array of credit cards for consumers and small businesses, including the Blue Cash Preferred and SimplyCash cards.

4. Citibank ($86 billion)

Citibank

Citi credit cards are issued by Citibank, which is the consumer financial services division of Citigroup. Citigroup is headquartered in New York City and was founded in 1812 as the Bank of New York. Citibank also has a private-label retail credit card division which issues retail cards for Home Depot, Costco, Shell Oil, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips. In 1981 Citibank set up a credit card issuing bank charter in South Dakota to take advantage of new laws that allowed charging interest rates as high as 25%, allowing this type of consumer lending to be profitable by avoiding the usury law interest rate caps of New York and most other states during that era. Citibank issues consumer and small business credit cards including popular reward cards like the Citi Double Cash and Costco Visa and American Airlines AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard. Citibank also has a private-label retail credit card division which issues retail cards for Home Depot, Costco, Shell Oil, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips.

5. Capital One ($68 billion)

Capital One

Capital One began as a corporate spin-off of Signet Financial Corp in 1994. Capital One was considered a mono-line credit card issuer, meaning that its revenue stemmed from a single product line (credit cards) rather than any other types of traditional banking products. Other mono-line banks of that era included MBNA (now part of Bank of America) and First USA (acquired by Bank One, which itself was later then acquired by Chase). In recent years Capital One has branched out into other lines of financial services, including mortgage and auto lending as well as retail banking. Capital One offers credit cards to all types of credit ranging from their Venture Rewards card, Quicksilver and Spark Cash business cards for excellent credit to their Capital One Platinum card for those with fair credit.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Credit Recommended:
Excellent, Good
Credit Recommended:
Excellent, Good
Balance Transfer Fee
$0
Intro Rewards Bonus
50000 Miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Learn More on Capital One® secure website.
Foreign Trans Fee
None
Regular APR
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Credit Recommended
Excellent, Good

Highlights

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
See additional details for Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

6. Discover ($53 billion)

Discover

Discover card was first introduced by Sears in 1985 and was the first credit card to not charge an annual fee. Discover’s cashback bonus was subsequently launched and was one of the first cash rebate schemes, spurring further innovation in the credit card rewards arena. Discover’s card transactions are processed through the Discover Payment Network, which is the fourth largest payment network behind Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Discover issues many popular cash back and reward credit cards including the Discover it Cash Back, Discover it Miles and Discover it Chrome cards.

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Credit Recommended (670-850):
Excellent, Good
Apply Now
Discover it® Balance Transfer
Editor’s Rating: 4.6
4.6
Credit Recommended (670-850):
Excellent, Good
Intro (Purchases)
0% for 6 months
Intro (Transfers)
0% for 18 months
Regular APR
14.24% - 25.24% Variable
Apply Now on Discover Card secure website.
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Recommended
Excellent, Good
Product Type
Consumer

Highlights

  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.
See additional details for Discover it® Balance Transfer
Rates & Fees

7. Wells Fargo ($31 billion)

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is a multinational financial services company headquartered in San Francisco, but its primary subsidiary is Wells Fargo Bank, which is based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Wells Fargo was founded in 1852 by Henry Wells and William Fargo, who were also the founders of American Express. Wells Fargo was formed to provide express delivery and banking services to the west coast amid the California and Alaskan gold rush. Along with Chase, Bank of America and Citibank, Wells Fargo is considered one of the “Big 4” largest banks in the country. Wells Fargo issues several popular rewards cards including the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card and Cash Wise Visa Card.

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

Credit Recommended (660-850):
Good/Excellent
Apply Now
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
Editor’s Rating: 4.4
4.4
Credit Recommended (660-850):
Good/Excellent
Intro (Purchases)
0% for 12 months
Intro (Transfers)
0% for 12 months
Regular APR
16.74%-27.74% (Variable)
Apply Now on Wells Fargo secure website.
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Recommended
Good/Excellent
Intro Purchase APR
0%

Highlights

  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 16.74%-27.74% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions
See additional details for Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

8. US Bank ($24 billion)

US Bank

U.S. Bancorp is the parent company of US Bank, which is based in Minneapolis but incorporated in Delaware. US Bank was originally chartered in 1863 and provides retail banking, payment, mortgage, trust and investment banking services to individuals and corporate clients. The bank currently operates over 3,100 branches and has over 72,000 employees across the United States.

9. USAA ($17 billion)

USAA

USAA stands for the United States Automobile Association and is a Texas-based financial services company based in San Antonio. USAA was originally founded in 1922 by a small group of US Army officers in order to offer mutual insurance to one another, as active duty military personnel were typically considered too risky to insure by private insurers due to the hazards of their occupation. From this small base USAA expanded over time to offer all types of insurance, retail banking and other financial services, including credit cards, to active duty and retired military members and their immediate families. USAA is not a publicly-owned corporation but rather structured as an inter-insurance exchange, meaning it is legally owned by its own insurance policyholders.

10. Barclays ($16 billion)

Barclays

Barclaycard is the credit card and payment services division of Barclays plc, a UK-based multinational financial services firm. Barclaycard was launched in 1966 and enjoyed a monopoly in revolving credit cards until 1972, though Diner’s Club and American Express were also represented in the UK with their charge cards in 1962 and 1963. Barclaycard came to the US market in 2004 when Barclays plc acquired Juniper Bank, based in Wilmington, DE. Barclaycard issues several travel rewards credit cards including co-branded cards with JetBlue, Frontier Airlines, American Airlines as well as Carnival and Princess Cruise lines. Barclays also offers several non-branded rewards cards including the Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Credit Recommended:
Good/Excellent
Credit Recommended:
Good/Excellent
Intro (Transfers)
0% first 12 billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening
Foreign Trans Fee
0% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Annual Fee
$89 (waived first year)
Apply Now on Barclaycard secure website.
Regular APR
18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable based on your creditworthiness
Product Type
Consumer
Credit Recommended
Good/Excellent

Highlights

  • Limited Time Offer: Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
  • Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
Rates & Fees

Largest Credit Card Companies (by Outstanding Balances)

Illustrating the market dominance of the largest players, the top 10 credit card issuers account for over 80% of domestic market share and the top five account for nearly two thirds.

Top 10 Market Share by Outstandings
Rank Issuer Balances ($Bil)
1 Chase $126
2 Bank of America $101
3 American Express $89
4 Citi $86
5 Capital One $68
6 Discover $53
7 Wells Fargo $31
8 US Bank $24
9 USAA $17
10 Barclaycard $16

Largest Credit Card Companies (by Cards in Circulation)

Rank Issuer Cards (Mil)
1 Chase 92
2 Capital One 89
3 Citi 68
4 Bank of America 55
5 Discover 51
6 American Express 48
7 Synchrony 28
8 Wells Fargo 24
9 US Bank 22
10 Barclaycard 16

Largest Credit Card Companies (by Purchase Volume)

Rank Issuer Balances ($Bil)
1 American Express $675
2 Chase $589
3 Bank of America $311
4 Citi $289
5 Capital One $241
6 US Bank $123
7 Discover $121
8 Wells Fargo $119
9 Barclaycard $71
10 Synchrony $48

Largest Card Networks (by Cards in Circulation)

Visa MasterCard Discover Amex
Rank Network Cards
1 Visa 335 million
2 MasterCard 200 million
3 Discover 51 million
4 American Express 48 million

Source: Nilson Report 2017

Top 5 Issuers (by Customer Satisfaction)

Source: J.D. Power

1. Discover

Discover it® Cash Back

Credit Recommended (670-850):
Excellent, Good
Apply Now
Discover it® Cash Back
Editor’s Rating: 4.6
4.6
Credit Recommended (670-850):
Excellent, Good
Intro (Purchases)
0% for 14 months
Intro (Transfers)
0% for 14 months
Regular APR
14.24% - 25.24% Variable
Apply Now on Discover Card secure website.
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Recommended
Excellent, Good
Product Type
Consumer

Highlights

  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.
See additional details for Discover it® Cash Back
Rates & Fees

2. American Express

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Credit Recommended (660-850):
Good/Excellent
Apply Now
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
Editor’s Rating: 4.4
4.4
Credit Recommended (660-850):
Good/Excellent
Intro (Purchases)
0% for 12 months
Intro (Transfers)
0% for 12 months
Regular APR
14.74%-27.24% (Variable)
Apply Now on Wells Fargo secure website.
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Recommended
Good/Excellent
Intro Purchase APR
0%

Highlights

  • Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months that's a $300 cash redemption value
  • Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in
  • Earn 3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit
  • Earn 3X points for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
  • Earn 1X points on other purchases
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 14.74%-27.24% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions
See additional details for Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

3. Barclays

Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard®

Credit Recommended:
Good/Excellent
Credit Recommended:
Good/Excellent
Intro (Transfers)
0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable 14.24% APR will apply. Within 45 days of account opening
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
14.24% Variable
Apply Now on Barclaycard secure website.
Product Type
Consumer
Credit Recommended
Good/Excellent
Intro Rewards Bonus
N/A

Highlights

  • Enjoy a 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable 14.24% APR will apply
  • Low 14.24% variable APR on purchases and cash advances
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN
See additional details for Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard®
Rates & Fees

4. Chase

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Credit Recommended (660-850):
Good/Excellent
Learn More
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Editor’s Rating: 4.7
4.7
Credit Recommended (660-850):
Good/Excellent
Intro (Purchases)
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
Intro (Transfers)
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
Annual Fee
$0
Learn More on Chase secure website.
Regular APR
16.99% - 25.74% Variable
Credit Recommended
Good/Excellent
Intro Rewards Bonus
$150 Bonus

Highlights

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.99-25.74%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
See additional details for Chase Freedom Unlimited®

5. Capital One

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Credit Recommended:
Excellent, Good
Credit Recommended:
Excellent, Good
Intro (Purchases)
0% for 15 months
Intro (Transfers)
0% for 15 months
Annual Fee
$0
Learn More on Capital One® secure website.
Foreign Trans Fee
None
Regular APR
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Credit Recommended
Excellent, Good

Highlights

  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.24%-25.24% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.24%-25.24% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees




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Editor’s Rating

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