Payment Card News

Card Race

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In terms of cards issued, VISA has picked up a slight lead again in the U.S. credit card horse race, after falling behind MasterCard for three consecutive quarters. However, based on the number of domestic credit card accounts, MasterCard has widened its lead to 15 million accounts after first surpassing VISA in 3Q/02. At the end of 2Q/03, VISA had 270.5 million domestic credit cards-in-force, compared to MasterCard’s 269.1 million. In the third quarter of 2002, MasterCard pulled ahead of VISA with 264.2 million cards versus VISA’s 259.0 million cards, according to CardData (www.carddata.com). MasterCard maintained its lead by 8.5 million cards in the fourth quarter of last year, and by 1.6 million in the first quarter of this year. Based on the number of U.S. credit card accounts, MasterCard now has 211.8 million compared to VISA’s 196.8 million. In 3Q/02, MasterCard pulled past VISA by 5.1 million accounts. The gap widened by 8.6 million accounts in the fourth quarter. In the first quarter of this year, MasterCard had 208.4 million accounts compared to VISA’s 200.9 million. VISA has steadily been losing credit card accounts for the past 18 months. However, VISA has always dominated MasterCard in credit card volume. For example, VISA’s second quarter volume was $158.8 billion compared to MasterCard’s $125.8 billion. For complete details on VISA’s and MasterCard’s second quarter performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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