Credit Card Market Share


Whenever someone mentions credit cards, an average customer thinks of Visa and Mastercard. There’s so much more to the industry, however. While Visa dominates the market and boasts the largest credit card market share, there are other players not to overlook. UnionPay, for example, is the second-largest processor worldwide by purchase transactions. 

Do you know the top five credit card brands in the world or the United States? Can you guess which are the hardest cards to qualify for? We have the answers to all these questions, along with the most important credit card trends, so read on.

Global Credit Card Market Share by Purchase Transactions

When we focus on market share by purchase transactions, Visa is ahead of all other credit card brands. In 2021, the Visa market share was 39%. Meaning, this brand accounted for almost two-fifths of all credit card purchases worldwide.

The runner-up UnionPay has a slightly lower share by purchase transactions than Visa’s market. In 2021, 34% of global credit card purchases were made using UnionPay. MasterCard was the third most popular card brand worldwide. This brand stood behind 24% of all credit card transactions.

(Nilson Report)

Global Network Cards Purchase Transaction Value

Global credit card statistics suggest that the situation shifted in 2019, at least in terms of the market share of credit card companies by the number of purchase transactions. Visa processed 185.5 purchase transactions, while UnionPay held the second place with 131.3 billion transactions globally. Mastercard processed 108.4 billion transactions in 2019, while American Express stood behind with 8.8 billion transactions. JCB and Discover purchases totaled 4.2 billion and 3 billion, respectively.


Credit Card Market Share in the United States

Chase and American Express are the largest credit card issuers in the US by purchase volume. The situation has been like that since 2009. The only change seen over the decade is in the market share — both brands had identical market shares in 2009. In 2019, American Express held 11.3% of the market, while the Chase credit card market share was 16.6%.

Bank of America, Capital One, Discover, and Wells Fargo are also among the largest credit card issuers in the United States. Their respective market shares in 2019 were 10.7%, 10.5%, 7.6%, and 4.3%.

(CardRates, Fool)

Card Brand Market Share by Purchase Volume in America

The total purchase volume of general-purpose card brands in the US hit $6.6 trillion in 2019. The largest share of that volume (31%) came from Visa credit cards. The total purchase volume through these cards was $2.08 trillion, which was up by 6.8% compared to 2018. Mastercard credit cards contributed $0.91 trillion in purchase volume, which covered 14% of the total market share.

Here, we can also analyze the debit vs. credit card market share in the US by purchase volume. Namely, Visa debit held 29%, while Mastercard debit held 12% of the total market share. Meaning, Visa is a leader when it comes to card brands.

Still, debit cards remain the top payment option in the country. Around 86 billion purchase transactions in 2020 were made via debit cards, while over 41 billion transactions came from credit cards. Americans, according to the latest stats on credit card debt, have the highest average credit card balances in the world. This marks an interesting contrast considering that most US purchases are made with a debit card.

American Express held 12% of the card market with a purchase volume of $0.82 trillion in 2019. The Discover card market share, finally, was insignificant as the brand’s transaction volume was only $0.14 trillion.

(Nilson Report, Nilson Report) 

Top American Issuers of Visa and Mastercard Credit Cards by Spending

While Visa and Mastercard are the leading card brands in the US, we’ll also look at their top issuers in the country. First, we have Chase, which processed Visa and Mastercard spending worth $389 billion in 2019. With a spending volume of $207 billion, Citi comes in next.

Bank of America held the third-largest Visa and Mastercard credit card market share by the number of cards. This payment processor’s spending via Visa and Mastercard totaled $182 billion. Capital One, US Bank, and Wells Fargo are the other top issuers of Visa and Mastercard across the US. Their transaction volumes with these credit cards were $176 billion, $74 billion, and $67 billion, respectively.

(Nilson Report)

Top American Issuers of Commercial Credit Cards by Purchase Volume

Chase is by far the leading issuer of small business credit cards in the US. The bank holds the largest share by purchase volume of $82.7 billion. The Capital One market share comes in second with its small business credit card volume of $56.8 billion. Bank of America held the third-largest market share in 2018, and its commercial credit card transaction volume was $40.6 billion.

Citibank, Wells Fargo, and U.S. Bank rounded up the list of top six issuers of small business credit cards by purchase volume. Their respective transaction volumes via small business credit were $29.8 billion, $24.9 billion, and $22.2 billion.

It’s interesting to note that the largest European bank HSBC holds an insignificant share of the US credit card market. The HSBC credit card market share in 2018 in America was only 0.1%.

(Nilson Report, Reuters)

Market Share of Card Brands in Europe

In Europe, Visa was the leading card in terms of market share between 2015 and 2020. Its dominance, however, has been weakening as Mastercard’s client base started to improve.

Between 2015 and 2020, the market share of Visa across Europe dropped by 10%. In 2015, Visa dominated the market with a share of 68%. Then, in the next four years, its market share decreased to 66%, 62%, 60%, and 59%, respectively. In 2020, the Visa market share of the European credit card market stood at 58%.

Mastercard, by contrast, saw its market share jump by 12% in the same period. In 2015, the company held 29% of the total purchase volume in Europe. In 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, the processor’s market share improved to 31%, 34%, 36%, and 39% respectively. By the end of 2020, Mastercard’s European market share had hit 41%.

American Express and Diners complete the list of top credit cards in Europe when it comes to purchasing volume. The American Express market share was 3% of the market share in 2015, only to note a decline to 1% by 2020. On the other hand, Diners Club’s insignificant market share was below 1% for the first time in 2020.


Leading Europe Banks by Credit Card Purchase Transactions

Sberbank held the largest market share by purchase transactions in Europe. In 2021, this bank held the first place in this category, with 30.9 billion transactions.

The second place went to Nexi, which processed 14.2 billion transactions in 2021. Worldpay rounds up the list of payment processors with the largest credit card market share in Europe. In 2021 this bank processed 9 billion purchases.

The list goes on with Worldline, Barclays, Fisery, and Adyen. These banks’ numbers of credit card purchases in 2021 were 8.7 billion, 7.1 billion, 3.94 billion, 6.8 billion, and 6.3 billion.

(Nilson Report)

Credit Card Market Share in the Asia-Pacific Region

UnionPay has held the largest market share in the Asia-Pacific region by far, with a market share of 75% in 2021. Its number of purchase transactions the same year was 198.1 billion, up from 151.2 billion in 2020. Visa had a market share of 13% in the same area in 2021. Their purchase transactions counted 34.9 billion, up from 30.9 billion in 2020, according to the Nilson credit card industry report.

Mastercard and JCB processed the rest of the credit card transactions in Asia-Pacific countries. These brands had market shares of 9% and 2%, respectively. Mastercard processed 23.9 billion transactions, while JCB’s stood at 4.9billion.

(Nilson Report)

Credit Card Market Share in Canada

While Visa and Mastercard are global leaders, Interac holds the throne in Canada. In 2021, the card’s market share was 43% thanks to its 5.95 billion transactions. Visa, with its 4.61 billion purchases, holds the second-largest market share in Canada or 33%. Mastercard and Amex are the remaining popular options. The Mastercard market share in 2021 was 22% and Amex’s amounted to 1%, while they processed 3.09 billion and 0.17 billion purchases.

These figures include personal and commercial credit, debit, and prepaid transactions. As for the credit card purchase volume, it represents 28% of all spending in Canada. In 2018, Canadians spent $5.90 billion through their credit cards.

(Nilson Report)

Credit Card Market Share in Latin America by Purchase Volume

In Latin America, Visa had the largest market share by purchase volume of 57.4%. Mastercard’s purchase volume represented 40.7% of the credit card share in 2021 in Latin America. American Express and Diners both had held market shares under 2%, as revealed by our credit card industry analysis. Their respective market shares by purchase volume were 1.7% and 0.2%, respectively.

(Nilson Report)

Market Cap of Leading Credit Card Brands

Let’s put the Visa vs Mastercard market share battle aside and focus on the market cap. Visa is winning this one too, with a market cap of $449.35 billion. The company processed about 188 million Visa transactions per day or about 2,175 transactions per second in 2020. The Mastercard market cap is lower, at $336.24 billion. The brand reported processing about 113 million transactions in 2020, translating to 1307 Mastercard transactions per second. The market cap of American Express is $115.87 billion, and Discover’s market cap stood at $28.96 billion.

(CompaniesMarketCap, Statista)

Credit Card Market Share FAQ

How big is the credit card industry?

The credit card industry has been on the rise for the past decade. Its value increased by $327 billion between 2017 and 2018. In 2008, the global credit card market was worth $1.93 trillion by purchase volume.

Which credit card company has the most customers?

Visa has 336 million cardholders, meaning it’s the largest credit card company in the world. With 231 million cardholders, the Mastercard comes in next.

Citibank, Chase, and American Express are other leading credit card companies. They serve 95 million, 83 million, and 63 million cardholders, respectively. Capital One and Bank of America deserve mention too. Their number of cardholders is 62 million and 58 million.


What is the most popular credit card?

There isn’t one since consumers prefer different cards for different reasons. Chase Freedom is the universal favorite among American card users. Those who want airline miles prefer using the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve is a top choice for travel rewards, while Shell Credit Card is a leader for gas rewards. As for the card brand, most Americans use either Visa or Mastercard.

What is the hardest credit card to get?

Centurion Card from American Express is the overall hardest credit card to qualify for. J.P Morgan Reserve is the hardest to get in the category of luxury travel. 

When it comes to rewards, however, only top consumers get approved for Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite from U.S. Bank. Those aiming at getting a low-interest card will have a hard time getting approved for Simmons Bank Visa.


While Visa is the brand with the largest credit card market share, Chase is the top card issuer in the United States. The situation, however, changes when you travel around the world. UnionPay, for instance, is the market leader in the Asia-Pacific region, while Interac has the largest market share in Canada. Globally, however, Visa and Mastercard remain the leading brands in the lucrative and ever-growing credit card industry.

References: Nilson Report, Statista, CardRates, Fool, Nilson Report, Nilson Report, Nilson Report, Reuters, Statista, CompaniesMarketCap, CardRates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *