If you’re an American aged between 30 and 49, there’s an 83% chance you have at least one credit card. If you’re categorized as an average US consumer, statistics indicate that you probably have four.
According to the latest Federal Reserve consumer credit report, American consumers’ collective revolving credit debt recently fell below the $1 trillion mark for the first time since 2016. In May 2020, it stood at $995.6 billion. That’s lower than mid-2019, when US credit card users were juggling a combined credit card debt of $1.08 trillion.
But the revolving credit industry is still big business, with only a handful of companies holding a percentage of the US credit card market share.
General Credit Card Payment Data
Data from the Federal Reserve shows that credit card transactions accounted for more than a third (34.1%) of all card payments in 2018 by number. That’s slightly higher than the 33.2% in 2015. General-purpose credit cards accounted for 91.5 % of all credit card transactions in 2018 by number, down slightly from 92.1% in 2015.
Payments made by private-label credit cards represented the remaining 8.5% of transactions in 2018. The average value of credit card payments was the same for both card types and equalled $89, a slight decrease from the $90 in 2015.
When discussing the market share of credit card companies, it’s important to understand that there are two main ways to segment this extremely competitive industry. In this article, you’ll find credit card market share data by network and revolving credit market share facts and statistics by issuer.
First of all, let’s define the terms. A credit card network, such as Visa or Mastercard, sets the terms for credit card transactions, authorizes them, and processes them. Meanwhile, a credit card issuer – usually a bank, a credit union, or a similar financial institution – provides (issues) credit cards to consumers.
Credit Card Market Share by Network
The US credit card market is dominated by four giants: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. However, it’s important to note that the four competitors are by no means equal.
While Visa and Mastercard are distinguished by a notable advantage in terms of global acceptance, American Express and Discover are well-known as payment facilitators that don’t need a middleman as they issue cards directly to consumers.
The Fed’s 2019 Report to the Congress on the Profitability of Credit Card Operations of Depository Institutions confirmed the status of Visa and Mastercard as the most popular credit card brands.
These two companies combined accounted for 84% of all US general-purpose credit cards or a total of nearly 569 million cards in 2018. The American Express and Discovery networks contributed with another 111 million general-purpose cards the same year.
The total number of transactions (charges and cash advances) made with credit cards from all four networks reached 41 billion and amounted to approximately $3.8 trillion.
Based on the Nilson Report issued in February 2020, Visa and Mastercard were once again the networks providing the most used credit cards in the USA in 2019. There were 333.1 million general-purpose Visa credit cards in circulation that year and 243 million Mastercards.
Discover provided 60.1 million credit cards, and 54.7 million credit cards came from Amex. With a total of 44.60 billion transactions, the combined dollar volume amounted to about $4 trillion.