Credit Card Issuers and Networks

There are more credit cards than people in the United States, which is proof (if you needed it) that we love spending money we don’t have. The companies that issue these cards are able to make a fortune and have grown into some of the biggest organizations in the world off the back of American debt.

But who are these companies, what do they offer, which credit card networks are the best and how to do they differ?

The 10 Biggest Credit Card Companies

The following list is based on the total amount of cards in circulation, as opposed to the individual wealth of these companies. We have excluded credit card networks and will discuss these soon.

1. Chase (Approx. 92 Million)

JPMorgan Chase are one of the biggest financial organizations in the world and are responsible for more credit cards in the United States than any other bank. They don’t offer a full range of financial services, as you can’t get a Chase personal loan, but when it comes to credit cards you will struggle to find anything better.

Basic Info

  • Credit Card Examples: Freedom, Sapphire
  • Small Business Capability: 5/10
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: up to 3%
  • Chargeback Policy: 5/10

2. Capital One (Approx. 90 Million)

Best Credit Card Issuers

Capital One have a range of secured credit cards and unsecured rewards cards. We have written about them many times here on DebtReviews and are very happy with the products they have and the level of service that they offer.

Take a look at our guide to cash back credit cards, airline cards and business credit cards to see what we had to say about them.

Basic Info

  • Credit Card Examples: VentureOne Rewards
  • Small Business Ready: 10/10
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: 0%
  • Chargeback Policy: 10/10

3. Citibank (Approx. 70 Million)

The Best Credit Card Issuers

Citibank aren’t always included on credit card top lists, mainly because they don’t have as many stand-out rewards cards as some of their competitors. But they do have some solid offers in this area and there are also plenty of low-interest credit cards.

Basic Info

  • Credit Card Examples: Citi Simplicity, City ThankYou
  • Small Business Ready: 3/10
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: up to 3%
  • Chargeback Policy: 7/10

4. Bank of America (Approx. 55 Million)

Bank of America have been offering top of the range credit cards for years now and have been consistently brilliant in this regards, with cards that are perfect for families, students, businesses and pretty much everyone else.

In fact, if you need a business card then you will struggle to find anything better.

Basic Info

  • Credit Card Examples: BankAmericard, Cash Rewards
  • Small Business Ready: 10/10
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: up to 3%
  • Chargeback Policy: 5/10

5. Wells Fargo (Approx. 25 Million)

Wells Fargo are one of the big five banks in the United States, albeit one that doesn’t come close to Chase in terms of total credit cards issued.

They do have a great offering though and as with Bank of America they are perfectly suited for small businesses.

Basic Info

  • Credit Card Examples: CashWise
  • Small Business Ready: 10/10
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: 3%
  • Chargeback Policy: 9/10

6. US Bank (Approx. 22 Million)

US Bank credit cards are not ideal for business owners. In fact, there are many credit card user who will struggle to see any benefit to owning a US Bank card, but they will appeal to some customers and are worth considering.

Basic Info

  • Credit Card Examples: Altitude, Cash+
  • Small Business Ready: 2/10
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: 0%
  • Chargeback Policy: 1/10

7. Barclays (Approx. 15 Million)

Best Credit Card Issuers in the US

Barclays are a multinational bank and have a larger share of the UK and European market than they do the US one. But they are still operating within this market and they have some great credit cards for personal, family, student and business use.

Basic Info

  • Credit Card Examples: BarclayCard Arrival+
  • Small Business Ready: 8/10
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: up to 3%
  • Chargeback Policy: 6/10

8. USAA (Approx. 8 Million)

USAA have a few cash back credit cards with respectable interest rates and very few fees. However, these cards do not offer as much cash back as some more popular Chase, Discover and Capital One cards.

Basic Info

  • Credit Card Examples: Preferred Cash Rewards
  • Small Business Ready: 5/10
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: 0%
  • Chargeback Policy: 5/10

9. PNC (Approx. 5 Million)

PNC have a good range of secured credit cards for customers with bad credit. They are available in fewer than half of all states and have specialist cards available for small business owners, even though these aren’t quite as feature-rich and business friendly as ones offered by competing banks.

Basic Info

  • Credit Card Examples: Cash Rewards, Core
  • Small Business Ready: 4/10
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: up to 3%
  • Chargeback Policy: 1/10

10. Navy Federal Credit Union (Approx. 3 Million)

This is a credit union, so the rules are different and it’s worth doing your research first. The Navy Federal Credit Union has cards such as the GoRewards and More Rewards, both of which have great interest rates.

To discover what the differences are between credit unions and banks, read this guide on the subject.

The Best Credit Card Companies

Best Credit Card Networks in the US

This is all down to opinion and ours will likely differ from yours. Preferences, wealth, credit score and status can also dictate whether a credit card company will be a good choice for you or not.

So, don’t take our word for the following, but feel free to use this list of the best credit card companies as a basis for more research:

1. Chase

We really like the selection of credit cards that Chase have. We have discussed these extensively and have discussed our appreciation for them in more detail.

It basically all comes down to their rewards cards and the fact that these are more generous than anything else on the market. Not everyone will benefit from a rewards card, especially those on a tight budget and those in debt, but if you’re in the market for one then you should definitely include cards like the Chase Freedom in your search.

2. Discover

Discover cards get a bad rep, and we don’t feel like it is deserved. They are available in more locations than Amex and are very similar to MasterCard and Visa in terms of accessibility.

And the reason we have placed them ahead of both Visa and MasterCard is because they have better rewards schemes and lower interest rates, or at least that is the case with the Discover It credit card.

This card is the perfect rewards card for many users and beats most of the cards currently being offered by other networks.

3. American Express

The major gripe that we have with Amex is the fact that it isn’t as accessible as other cards.

This is because they charge higher fees to retailers, so those retailers simply choose not to accept hem. It only makes sense, because most Amex owners have other credit cards burning a hole in their pocket and if they can’t use their Amex they will just dig an alternative out.

This accessibility may become a thing of the past and Amex are trying to change it, but until then they don’t make it higher than 3rd on our list of the best credit card companies.

Credit Card Networks

The Best Credit Card Issuers and Networks

A network is different to an issuer. In smartphone terms, the network is the operating system (iOS, Windows, Android) and the issuer is the manufacturer of the phone. In other words, you can’t have one without the other, there is an element of choice and competition at play, and both are able to profit from the end result.

The companies we listed first are all issuers. The actual networks (which follow these issuers) are few and far between and there’s a good chance you are able to recite these off the top of your head without much thought.

If not, or if you want to learn more about how they differ, checkout our guide to Credit Card Networks. You should also take a peek at the following helpful articles