Visa is the most popular credit card brand U.S. credit card market. Brand also refers to the name of the network. The Visa brand is on 340 million credit cards, or about one-half of the 678 million total credit cards-in-force in the U.S. This does not include debit and prepaid cards.
Visa and Mastercard are payment networks, licensing their respective brands to banks, credit unions and other financial institution. Visa and Mastercard do not issue credit cards.
On the other hand, American Express and Discover are both a network or brand and an issuer of credit cards.
Major 4 Credit Card Players
U.S. credit cards for the Major 4: Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover grew 3.4% in 2018, compared to one-year ago. At end of 2018 there were 672.5 million U.S. credit/charge cards-in-force to 650.5 million at the end of 2017, according to figures collected by CardData.
Mastercard, the fastest growing credit card brand, added 17 million new credit cards last year in the U.S. Visa gave up an estimated one million cards during 2018, American Express added 3.7 million and Discover added an extra 2.3 million CIF, according to analysis by RAM Research.
While Mastercard is the driver of the U.S. market, Discover is not far behind as it beefs-up current credit card products and adds a business card product.
Major 4 U.S. Credit/Charge Cards-in-Force
(Visa + MasterCard + American Express + Discover)
2015: 647.0 million
2016: 642.7 million
2017: 650.5 million
2018: 672.5 million
Visa U.S. Credit/Charge CIF
2015: 336 million
2016: 335 million
2017: 340 million
2018: 339 million
MasterCard U.S. Credit/Charge CIF
2015: 192 million
2016: 191 million
2017: 199 million
2018: 216 million
American Express U.S. Credit/Charge CIF
2015: 57.6 million
2016: 47.5 million
2017: 50.0 million
2018: 53.7 million
Discover U.S. Credit/Charge CIF
2015: e62.1 million
2016: e60.2 million
2017: e61.5 million
2018: e63.8 million
e-estimated – Discover does not publicly report cards-in-force