Credit card market share statistics

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The credit card industry is big business, and it is dominated by a handful of companies.

American consumers collectively are flirting with $1 trillion in credit card debt in mid-2017, according to the Federal Reserve consumer credit report. The top four issuers provide more than 57 percent of all the cards issued by 5,231 banks. The top 10 issuers issued nearly 90 percent.13

There were some 14.5 billion U.S. general purpose credit card transactions in the first six months of 2015, accounting for more than $1.4 trillion in purchase volume.27 General purpose credit card spending has risen as a proportion of gross domestic product, rising from 10 percent of GDP in 2000 to 15 percent in 2014.2

The total number of credit card transactions in the U.S. was 26.2 billion in 2012, up from 21 billion in 2009,3 according to the 2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study. 

credit card purchase volume

Sizing up the networks

The four major credit card networks in the United States are Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover.

Visa is the largest. In 2014, Visa's U.S. credit purchase volume was $1.2 trillion,5 up from $1.1 trillion in 2013.6 There were 304 million Visa credit cards in circulation in the United States and 545 million Visa credit cards in circulation outside of the United States in September 2014.5 In comparison, there were 285 million Visa credit cards in circulation in the United States and 526 million cards in the rest of the world the year before.6

Mastercard's U.S. credit purchase volume was $607 billion for 2014,7 up from $560 billion in 2013.8 There were 191 million Mastercard credit cards in the United States and 576 million cards in the rest of the world in December 2014.7 In comparison, there were 178 million Mastercard credit cards in the U.S. and 563 million cards in the rest of the world the year before.8

American Express also saw growth from year to year, as U.S. cardholders spent $668 billion in 2014, up from $637 billion the year before. At the end of 2014, there were 54.9 million American Express credit cards in circulation in the U.S. and 57.3 million in the rest of the world. That compares to 53.1 million cards in the U.S. and 54.1 million in the rest of the world, in 2013.9

Finally, Discover had a credit purchase volume of $129 billion in 2014,10 up from $123 billion in 2013.11  

CARD CIRCULATION, REST OF THE WORLD
2013
2014
M
i
l
l
i
o
n
s
 
o
f
 
c
a
r
d
s
563
576
526
545
54.1
57.3
  Mastercard Visa American Express
Source: Visa, Mastercard and American Express financial statements

 

Top card issuers

In the final quarter of 2014, the 10 biggest credit card issuers in the United States had $671 billion in outstanding loans -- nearly 85 percent of all the outstanding loans among more than 5,000 issuers, according to PaymentsSource.12

OUTSTANDING BALANCES (U.S.), BY CREDIT CARD ISSUER, Q4 2014
Bank Outstanding loans Percent of overall sample
Citigroup $140.746 billion 17.8%
JPMorgan $120.326 billion 15.2%
Bank of America $102.344 billion 13%
Capital One $81.024 billion 10.3%
American Express $60.737 billion 7.7%
Discover $55.941 billion 7.1%
Synchrony $39,786 billion 5%
Wells Fargo $31.119 billion 3.9%
Barclays Delaware Holdings $20.715 billion 2.6%
U.S. Bancorp $18.515 billion 2.3%
Source: PaymentsSource
 

When it comes to the issuers with the greatest card circulation, the same companies, not surprisingly, dominate. 

 
CARD CIRCULATION (U.S.), BY CREDIT CARD ISSUER, Q4 2014
Bank Card circulation Percent of overall sample
Citigroup 109,774,131 18.1%
JPMorgan 93,847,656
15.5%
Bank of America 79,822,686 13.1%
Capital One 63,194,228 10.4%
American Express 54,900,000 9%
Discover 43,630,772 7.2%
Synchrony 31,030,786 5.1%
Wells Fargo 24,271,107 4%
Barclays Delaware Holdings 16,156,368 2.7%
U.S. Bancorp 14,440,681 2.4%
Source: PaymentsSource

 

 

Expanding the customer base

While the Great Recession led some credit card issuers to tighten their lending standards, evidence is mixed on whether banks are embracing more consumers with less-than-stellar credit. Between January and July, the number of new card accounts for consumers with subprime credit -- those with credit scores of 660 or lower -- was up 40 percent over the same period in 2013, according to Equifax.14

But newer data from Experian shows the number of cards issued to subprime borrowers was roughly the same in the first quarter of 2015 as in the same period in 2014 -- after rising somewhat during the middle of 2014. And the Experian data shows that credit card limits fell for people with subprime credit, from $1,171 in the first quarter of 2014 to $966 in the first quarter of 2015. (The credit limits of prime borrowers also fell during that year, from $5,382 to $5,209).20

Other findings from Equifax include:

TransUnion has also found that the number of credit card accounts is growing. In the first quarter of 2014, there were 344.53 million card accounts, up from 329.73 in the first quarter of 2013.15

However, not all segments of the credit card industry are seeing more business. The percentage of consumers using co-branded or affinity cards fell from 55 percent in 2009 to 43 percent in 2013, according to market researchers at Packaged Facts.16

The future of cards

One major threat that continues to impact cards in circulation is security. Card fraud losses totaled $16.31 billion in the U.S. in 2014 and accounted for 48.2 percent of global card fraud losses worldwide, according to The Nilson Report.26 Credit cards in the United States have traditionally used a magnetic stripe, but a nationwide migration to EMV payment technology is now underway. EMV is a global standard in which cards have computer chips that dynamically authenticate transactions instead of relying on easy-to-copy magnetic stripes.

Chip cards have been popular around the world for years and are currently used in more than 80 countries, according to GoChipCard.com.21 At the end of 2014, there were approximately 3.4 billion smart chip cards in circulation around the globe, per EMV Connection.22 Today, U.S. card issuers are in the midst of upgrading approximately 1.2 billion credit and debit cards to smart chip cards.25  Approximately 400 million chip cards were issued in the U.S. by the end of 2015.22

The U.S. adoption of chip cards was largely precipitated by a network-imposed EMV fraud liability shift deadline on Oct. 1, 2015. As of March 2016, approximately 70 of all cardholders had been issued at least one EMV-chipped card.23

However, while smart chip credit cards are common, most U.S. retailers are not ready to process the new cards. Only 37 percent of retailers were actually ready to process chip card payments in January 2016, according to The Strawhecker Group. It projects consumers will be able to use their EMV chip cards at about 50 percent of retailers by June 2016 and 72 percent by December 2016.24 It estimates EMV readiness may not reach a 90 percent adoption threshold until 2017.


Sources


See related: Credit card statistics, Credit card delinquency statistics, Credit card debt statistics

The top four issuers in the fourth quarter of 2014 provided more than 57 percent of all the cards issued by 5,231 banks. The top 10 issuers issued nearly 90 percent.13


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Updated: 12-11-2017