Credit Card Companies | 15 Largest Issuers (2017 List)

By: Toby Sembower • April 28, 2017

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Credit card companies, like most other things in life, come in all shapes and sizes.

Some are titans of the industry, spending upwards of $336 million a year to blare commercials 24/7 on every medium known to man. Others lack any kind of name recognition — outside of their employees and, presumably, a handful of customers.

You don’t want to entrust your financial future to just any credit card company. So if you’re looking to get a new credit card, where do you even start?

Below we list the 15 largest credit card companies (as measured by number of active U.S. accounts), along with links to their top credit cards, phone numbers, credit score ranges, and more:

1. Visa — 323M Cardholders

Visa is a monolith in the credit card world, widely accepted by over 8 million merchants. From traditional benefits to premium rewards, Visa personal credit cards offer a wide range of benefits for cardholders around the world. Mobile cardholders can save themselves time and shop online using Visa Checkout.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 500 to 850
  • Average: 675
  • Translation: Can have anywhere from poor to excellent credit to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

2. MasterCard — 191M Cardholders

The second most major credit card network in the United States, MasterCard offers perks like easy bill pay and personal information protection using chip technology. MasterCard processes transactions in over 210 countries and in more than 150 currencies.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 650 to 850
  • Average: 750
  • Translation: Must have good to excellent credit to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

3. Chase — 93M Cardholders

Chase is the top issuer of general-purpose credit cards in the U.S. Its revenue takes up a significant share of the the market (31.7% to be exact). With rewards from companies like Disney and Southwest Airlines, Chase boasts high customer satisfaction for its credit cards.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 616 to 850
  • Average: 718
  • Translation: Must have fair to excellent credit to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

4. American Express — 58M Cardholders

Active in over 130 different countries, American Express (AMEX) is the world’s largest issuer of credit cards in terms of transactions, averaging 6 billion transactions per year. American Express primarily accepts high-income cardholders with robust credit scores.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 623 to 850 
  • Average: 733
  • Translation: Must have good to excellent credit to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

5. Discover — 57M Cardholders

For those with good credit, Discover offers numerous cash back and travel promotional offers on its credit cards. Dependable fraud protection keeps customers safe while they spend. Applying for a Discover card is easy, and you’ll find they have good offerings for students and businesses alike.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 601 to 850
  • Average: 733
  • Translation: Must have fair to excellent credit to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

6. Citibank — 48M Cardholders

Begun in 1812, Citibank is a major banking institution for customers with above average credit standing. Citi cards have two primary rewards programs available: Simplicity and Thank You. The CitiManager® online tool helps its members manage multiple accounts.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 633 to 850
  • Average: 750
  • Translation: Must have good to excellent credit to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

7. Capital One — 45M Cardholders

Whether your credit score is excellent or poor, Capital One has a credit card for you. With 24/7 customer service and free credit scores via CreditWise, Capital One is attentive to the needs of every cardholder. Capital One provides premium benefits and invaluable tools for everyone.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 666 to 850
  • Average: 717
  • Translation: Can have anywhere from poor to excellent credit to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

8. Bank of America — 32M Cardholders

Founded in 1904, Bank of America began as “Bank of Italy,” serving America’s expanding immigrant population. Renamed in 1930, Bank of America re-branded itself and created the first general-use credit card. Its award-winning online and mobile banking makes handling credit cards much easier for its responsible cardholders.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 681 to 850
  • Average: 744
  • Translation: Must have excellent credit to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

9. Wells Fargo — 24M Cardholders

From the Gold Rush to the 21st century, Wells Fargo has been a wealth of opportunity for everyday Americans. Wells Fargo credit cards provide offers and diverse financial assistance. About one in three American households trust this brand’s six-horse stagecoach with their personal finances.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 650 to 850
  • Average: 750
  • Translation: Must have good to excellent credit to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

 10. US Bank — 18.5M Cardholders

US Bank offers credit cards for rebuilding credit for first timers, students, small businesses, and for the general populace. Accepting all types of credit, U.S. Bank has many beneficial credit cards that you can easily browse through online.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 600 to 850
  • Average: 725
  • Translation: Can have anywhere from poor to excellent credit to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

11. USAA — 10M Cardholders

Begun by former members of the military, the United States Automobile Association issues credit cards for military servicemen, veterans, and their families. USAA members receive cash back, rewards points, low rates, credit building, and more. Many cards award customers with points that never expire and have no cap.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 650 to 850
  • Average: 750
  • Translation: Must have fair to excellent credit to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

12. Credit One — 6M Cardholders

Credit One has an abundance of discounted deals for its cardholders. With cashback programs and monthly credit score tracking, Credit One takes care of its customers. There’s even a promotional offer for NASCAR fans! In less than a minute, anyone can go online to find out if they’re pre-qualified for a Credit One Bank credit card.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 530 to 850
  • Average: 675
  • Translation: Can have poor credit to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

13. Barclaycard US — 418K Cardholders

For responsible borrowers in good standing, Barclaycard is a reliable option. Established in 2004, Barclaycard is known for its  co-branded credit cards in partnership with well-known travel, entertainment, retail, educational, and financial institutions.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 600 to 850
  • Average: 721
  • Translation: Must have fair credit or better to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

14. First PREMIER Bank

Established in 1929, First PREMIER Bank is the 12th largest issuer of MasterCard and Visa credit cards in the country. First PREMIER caters to subprime consumers by offering transitional credit cards as a stepping stone to building a good history. Borrowers start off with low credit limits to encourage responsible spending, and anyone with imperfect credit is welcome to apply.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 300 to 850
  • Average: 630
  • Translation: Can have poor credit to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

15. PNC

A popular brand east of the Mississippi River, PNC Financial Services issues secure credit cards to individuals and small businesses with strong credit history. The majority of PNC’s credit card holders (60%) have high credit scores. PNC cardholders enjoy lower rates and great rewards for their financial responsibility.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 620 to 850
  • Average: 719
  • Translation: Must have fair credit or better to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

Sources and Further Reading

As you can see, the nation’s largest issuers offer credit cards for all types of credit-worthy customers. No matter your credit score, you should take your time to research credit card offers and the companies behind them. With the right knowledge, you’ll be ready to make a responsible, informed decision in choosing your next credit card.


To see the top credit cards ranked:

Recommended sites that we used to compile the data in this guide:

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

About the Author

Toby Sembower

Toby has served as a credit-card industry analyst and financial editor since 2003, bringing an extensive background and knowledge base to the CardRates.com team. He specializes in helping consumers find the best deals possible for their credit card needs, as well as creating tools and content that help users get the most out of their cards. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Florida and is the founder of Digital Brands Inc.