List of credit card companies: main cards and issuers
The majority of credit cards in the United States are issued by one of the top 10 credit card issuers. But there are also lesser known or regional banks that offer quality credit cards.
Major U.S. credit card issuers
Technically, any bank or credit union can – and probably does – issue credit cards. But your average US credit card user is more likely to have a card from a multinational bank than from the regional bank down the street.
In fact, the major credit card issuers in the United States hold more than 80% of the market share, according to the Nilson report. In other words, about 8 out of 10 credit cards in the United States come from one of these issuers:
- American Express
- Bank of America
- A capital letter
- chase away
- Synchronization bank
- American Bank
- Wells fargo
If you’ve ever wondered why every “Best Of” list seems to repeat the same banks, here’s why. They really make up the vast majority of credit card options, especially the sophisticated rewards cards that are so popular.
Considering the massive impact these banks have on the credit card market, it’s a good idea to get to know them a bit. Let’s take a closer look at each business.
American Express (American Express Co.)
American Express, nicknamed Amex, has been in business since 1850. It did not enter the world of payment cards until the 1950s, when it issued its first payment card. The first Amex credit card came about 30 years later. Amex is both the issuer and the network for its cards.
These days, Amex is the second-largest card issuer in the United States in terms of purchase volume, according to data from the Nilson 2020 report. It is also in the top six based on the number of cards in circulation.
See our list of Best American Express credit cards.
Popular American Express Cards We Reviewed:
Why we love them: American Express offers one of the best rewards programs. Amex Membership Rewards points have many uses, including transferring to over 20 hotel and airline partners. Plus, most Amex cards offer great benefits like purchase protection and travel insurance.
Bank of America (Bank of America Corp.)
Bank of America, abbreviated BoA, was founded in San Francisco in the 1900s under the name Bank of Italy. It was not until 1930 that it became the Bank of America. The first BoA credit card, called BankAmericard, was launched in 1958 as one of the first consumer credit cards.
BoA is among the top five issuers in terms of number of cards. It is also the fourth largest emitter as a percentage of purchase volume.
See our list of Best Bank of America Credit Cards.
Popular Bank of America Cards We Reviewed:
Why we love them: BoA offers easy-to-use rewards cards, many of which don’t have an annual fee. Cardholders who also bank with BoA can earn additional rewards based on the money they have in their bank and investment accounts.
Barclays (Barclays Bank Delaware)
Barclays is best known as a British bank, but it operates in the United States under the name Barclays Bank of Delaware. Barclays was responsible for launching the UK’s first consumer credit card in the 1960s. But it didn’t start issuing cards in the US until almost 50 years later.
Barclays is in 10th position according to the total number of cards in circulation (in the United States), with around 3% of the total market share. It’s also low on the list for buying volume. Previously, the bank issued a few cards under the Barclaycard name, but now focuses primarily on co-branded travel and retail cards.
Capital One (Capital One Financial Corp.)
Capital One is a relatively young bank, founded just a few decades ago in 1994. It started issuing credit cards almost immediately and has grown steadily since then.
Today, Capital One ranks fifth among credit card issuers in terms of purchase volume. But it comes first when it comes to the number of cards in circulation.
See our list of Best Capital One Credit Cards.
Popular Capital One Cards We Reviewed:
Why we love them: There’s a reason so many people have Capital One cards, and it’s not just because they’re easier to get (although Capital One has plenty of cards for people who need to build up. a credit). They also have a variety of quality rewards cards, including competitive options for travel rewards and cards for daily rewards.
Chase (JPMorgan Chase & Co.)
Chase has been around in one way or another since 1799 when it was founded as the Bank of The Manhattan Company. Through numerous mergers, he eventually became JPMorgan Chase, called Chase for short.
Chase is arguably the largest credit card issuer in the United States, both in terms of purchase volume and card volume. Chase has the largest share of the buying market and comes in second for the number of cards.
See our list of Best Chase Credit Cards.
Popular Chase Cards We Reviewed:
Why we love them: Chase really excels when it comes to rewards. Their Ultimate Rewards points program is one of the best around. You can also get great benefits with almost any Chase card, including top travel insurance.
Citi (Citigroup Inc.)
Citi can trace its roots back to the early 1800s and to the City Bank of New York. It became Citigroup, called Citi by most, in 1998. The company entered the credit card market in the 1960s with a card known as “Everything Card”.
Modern Citi dominates the top three credit card issuers in the United States, ranking third in both purchase volume and number of cards in circulation.
See our list of Best Citi Credit Cards.
Popular Citi Cards We Reviewed:
Why we love them: Citi offers a wide variety of cards, making it easy to find the right one for your needs. They have one of the best rewards programs with their transferable thank you points. You can also find unique cash back cards with long introductory 0% APR offers.
Discover (Discover financial services)
Discover was born as a branch of Sears – yes, the department store – in an attempt to enter the financial industry. It was split, sold and eventually became Discover Financial Services. Lots of Credit Discover as the inventor of the rewards credit card. Discover is both an issuer and its own network of credit cards.
Discover comes fourth in terms of the number of cards in circulation. But it only ranks seventh for market share by purchase volume.
See our list of Best Discover credit cards.
Popular Discover Cards We Reviewed:
Why we love them: Discover’s Card Stable has a lot of great features. On the one hand, everyone has rewards – even their secure card. Discover cards are also light on fees, with no annual fees or foreign transaction fees on any of their cards.
Synchrony (Synchrony Financial)
Synchrony was formed around 90 years ago as GE Capital Retail Bank, before becoming Synchrony Financial in 2014. Most holders of a card issued by Synchrony may not even realize it, as the company deals almost exclusively with co-branded retail credit cards. Dozens of popular retail brands have credit cards issued by Synchrony. But the bank keeps its own minimal branding.
Synchrony holds the smallest share of the transmitter market on this list, ranking 10th in purchase volume. This makes sense with much of his wallet consisting of generally low limit store cards. However, the bank is seventh for the total number of cards issued.
Popular Synchrony Cards We Reviewed:
Why we love them: If you have a store card, chances are it is issued by Synchrony. And while we may caution against store cards, they certainly have a place.
American Bank (US Bancorp)
US Bank started on the West Coast as the United States National Bank of Portland in 1891. Several mergers later became US Bancorp, also known as US Bank. The bank has not issued credit cards for a long time, although it now offers both banking and co-branded options.
Overall, US Bank has a relatively small market share. It ranks ninth for card volume, although it ranks sixth for percentage of purchase volume.
See our list of Best US Bank Credit Cards.
Popular US Bank Cards We Reviewed:
Why we love them: US Bank offers several attractive cards that stand out from the typical offers. It has one of the few rewards cards to choose from on the market and even includes some unusual bonus categories such as home utilities and fitness centers.
Wells Fargo (Wells Fargo & Co.)
Wells Fargo was a child of the California Gold Rush and once served as the western arm of the Pony Express. It entered more traditional banks in the 1920s and credit cards towards the turn of the century.
Wells Fargo currently has a modest share of the market share, ranking eighth overall for card volume and for its percentage of credit card purchase volume.
See our list of Best Wells Fargo Credit Cards.
Popular Wells Fargo Cards We Reviewed:
Why we love them: Wells Fargo has undergone a major overhaul of its credit cards – and we’re fans of it. Its current offers include a 2% unconditional cash back card and an introductory APR card with a very generous 0% APR duration.
Lesser-known or regional credit card issuers
The bulk of credit cards in the United States can come from only 10 issuers. But the rest is issued by lesser-known companies, including regional banks and credit unions. This is definitely not a complete list, but here are a few smaller issuers you may come across:
- Fifth Third Bank
- Goldman Sachs
- Huntington Bank
- Federal Navy Credit Union
- Pentagon Federal Credit Union
- PNC Bank
- Truist (merger of BB&T and SunTrust)
- United States
- National Bank of the World Financial Network (aka Comenity)
If you are not sure which company is issuing your credit card, you can check your cardholder agreement. You can also go to the card’s website and check the fine print at the bottom of the page or in the terms and conditions.