The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Monday, April 6, 2020

Credit Card Companies | 15 Largest Issuers (2020 List)

Credit Card Companies | 15 Largest Issuers (2020 List)

credit card news

Toby Sembower
By: Toby Sembower
Updated: January 27, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

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 — 336M Cardholders

Visa logoVisa is the largest major payment network, widely accepted by over 40M merchants. From traditional benefits to premium rewards, Visa offers a wide range of benefits for cardholders around the world. 


VISA® RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • Chase is not an affiliate partner with CardRates and does not review editorial content on our site
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.49% - 25.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

VISA® RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • Chase is not an affiliate partner with CardRates and does not review editorial content on our site
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.49% - 25.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

VISA® RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 15+ leading travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

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 — 231M Cardholders

Mastercard logoThe second-largest 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 territories, and in more than 150 currencies.


EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★
4.0

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • Make the minimum required security deposit and you'll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad
Milestone® Mastercard® - Less Than Perfect Credit Considered Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★
4.0

OVERALL RATING

3.9/5.0
  • Prequalify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Mobile account access at any time
  • Protection from fraud if your card is stolen
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
  • *Dependent on credit worthiness
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.9%
$35 - $99
Bad, Poor Credit
Indigo® Unsecured Mastercard® Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★
4.0

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • Pre-qualify today without an impact on your credit score
  • Keeping your account in good standing may help establish and/or improve your credit
  • Access your account online or from your mobile device 24/7
  • Protection from fraud if your card is stolen
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.9%
$0 - $99
Fair/Good

Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 550 to 850
  • Average: 750
  • Translation: Options for consumers with bad to excellent credit available

Where to Apply

3. Citibank — 95M Cardholders

Citi logoCitibank is a major banking institution for customers of all credit standings. Citi cards have two primary rewards programs available: Simplicity and Thank You. The CitiManager® online tool helps its members manage multiple accounts.


CITI® RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases.
  • Receive 0% for 18 months on balance transfers made within 4 months of account opening
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back; transfer fee applies
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month
  • No categories to track and no caps on cash back
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% for 18 months
15.74% - 25.74% (variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

CITI® RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • No late fees, No penalty rate, and No annual fee... EVER.
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for the first 21 months (transfers must be made in the first 4 months)
  • 0% Intro APR on new purchases for the first 12 months
  • The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day - just say "representative"
  • Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 21 months
16.99% - 26.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

CITI® RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on  net new purchases with your card in the first 3 months of account opening
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; balance transfers must be made within 4 months of account opening
  • Points are redeemable for gift cards to popular retailers, restaurants, and department and home stores. 2,500 ThankYou® Points can be redeemed for a $25 gift card at thankyou.com
  • Earn 2X Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations
  • Earn 1X Points on all other purchases
  • Round-up to the nearest 10X points on every purchase
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
$0
Good/Excellent

Credit Scores Approved

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

Where to Apply

4. Chase — 83M Cardholders

Chase logoChase is the second-largest issuer of general-purpose credit cards in the U.S. behind Citi, accounting for 14.84% of total market share. With rewards from companies like Disney and Southwest Airlines, Chase boasts high customer satisfaction for its credit cards. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is often regarded as the best travel card in the industry.


EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Chase is not an affiliate partner with CardRates and does not review editorial content on our site
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.49% - 25.49% Variable
$550
Good/Excellent

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
  • Chase is not an affiliate partner with CardRates and does not review editorial content on our site
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

Credit Scores Approved

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

Where to Apply

5. American Express — 63M Cardholders

Amex Logo

Active in over 160 different countries and territories, 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

6. Capital One — 62M Cardholders

Capital One logoWhether 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 all its cardholders, including the opportunity to build or rebuild your credit.


EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 15+ leading travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 15+ leading travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.49%-25.49% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.49%-25.49% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

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

7. Bank of America — 58M Cardholders

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


Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points
  • 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days — that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want — you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles
N/A
17.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings
  • Plus, earn 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back on everything else
  • Bonus rewards capped at $2,500 is combined bonus category purchases each quarter
  • No annual fee
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 Billing Cycles
0% Intro APR for 15 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
BankAmericard® Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then 15.24% to 25.24% Variable APR
  • $0 Intro Balance transfer fee during first 60 days of account opening. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% (min. $10).
  • No annual fee
  • No penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your interest rate (APR). Other account pricing and terms apply.
  • Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles
0% Intro APR for 15 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
15.24% to 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

Credit Scores Approved

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

Where to Apply

8. Discover — 39M Cardholders

Discover logoDiscover has numerous promotional offers on its credit cards, including its popular Cashback Match™. 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: 550 to 850
  • Average: 733
  • Translation: Can have bad to excellent credit to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

9. Synchrony Financial — 37M Cardholders

Synchrony Bank logo

Established in 2003, Synchrony Financial is a major issuer of Mastercard and Visa credit cards. Synchrony offers a wide variety of co-branded retailer and store credit cards that are suitable for a range of credit types.

Credit Scores Approved

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

Where to Apply

10. Wells Fargo — 23M Cardholders

Wells Fargo logoFrom the Gold Rush to the 21st century, Wells Fargo has been a wealth of opportunity for everyday Americans. Wells Fargo credit cards provide competitive offers and diverse financial assistance to suit cardholders of all types. About 1 in 3 American households trust this brand’s six-horse stagecoach with their personal finances.


Credit Scores Approved

  • Range: 620 to 850
  • Average: 750
  • Translation: Must have good to excellent credit to become a cardholder.

Where to Apply

11. Barclays US — 16M Cardholders

Barclays logoBarclays is a reliable option for responsible borrowers in good credit standing. Established in 2004, Barclays is known for its co-branded credit cards in partnership with well-known travel, entertainment, retail, educational, and financial institutions that include Uber, American Airlines, and Wyndham, among others. 


Credit Scores Approved

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

Where to Apply

 12. U.S. Bank — 14M Cardholders

US Bank logoU.S. Bank offers credit cards for rebuilding credit for first-timers, students, small businesses, and the general populace. 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

13. USAA — 10M Cardholders

USAA logoBegun 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, and more. 


Credit Scores Approved

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

Where to Apply

14. Credit One — 6M Cardholders

CreditOne Bank logoCredit One takes care of its customers with cash back rewards and monthly credit score tracking. There’s even a promotional offer for NASCAR fans! In less than a minute, anyone can go online to see if they’re pre-qualified for a Credit One Bank credit card.


  • Credit One Bank® Visa® Credit Card – Text alerts, free monthly credit score tracking
  • Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards – Cash back on purchases, zero fraud liability
  • Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit –  Cash back available, pre-qualified in 60 seconds

Credit Scores Approved

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

Where to Apply

15. PNC

PNC logoA popular brand east of the Mississippi River, PNC Financial Services issues credit cards to individuals and small businesses with strong credit histories. The majority of PNC’s cardholders (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, however, you should take your time to research credit card offers and the companies behind them, as your experience can vary greatly based on the card and issuer.

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: