List of Major Credit Card Companies & Card Networks [History, Most Popular Cards, and More]

credit cards

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Bank-issued charge cards first originated in 1946 when a Brooklyn banker named John Biggins launched the “Charg-It” card. Charg-It card purchases were forwarded to Biggins’ bank, where he reimbursed the merchant and would later obtain payment from the customer in what came to be known as the “closed-loop” system.

Fast forward to 1950 which saw the debut of the Diners Club Card. The Diners Club Card claims the title of the first credit card in widespread use, and while it’s purchases were made on credit, the Diners Club was technically a charge card, meaning the bill had to be paid in full at the end of each month. The card became quite popular, and by the end of 1951, Diners Club had over 20,000 cardholders.

When the original American Express card first launched in 1958, charge cards were rapidly becoming mainstream. In 1959, American Express was the first company to introduce a plastic card, replacing the older cardboard and celluloid cards. Within just 5 years, 1 million American Express cards were in use at over 85,000 merchants.

According to The Nilson Report, there are a total of 1.06 billion credit cards (as of 2017), with close to 1.2 billion cards projected to be in use by 2022. In 2018, there were 41 billion total credit card transactions in the U.S., amounting to $3.8 trillion in purchase volume — over $10.4 billion per day.

In this post, we outline 15 of the largest credit card companies (measured by their number of active credit card accounts), along with some history and facts about the company, and some of our favorite credit cards that they offer.

Card Networks vs. Credit Card Companies

Before we dive in, it is important to make a distinction between a card network and a credit card company.

A credit card company is, put simply, any company that issues credit cards, whether that be a bank, a credit union, or anything in between. So what is a card network, then? When you hear the words “card network,” think about companies like Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover.

Card networks work with credit card processors to transport your transaction data between the issuing bank and the merchant you’ve made your purchase with. The card networks are also responsible for setting their interchange and assessment fees.

While each network sets its fees, it does not collect all of them. The interchange fees, which are the largest cost involved in credit card processing, are passed onto the issuing bank.

Now you may be wondering, “If companies like American Express and Discover are card networks, how do they also issue credit cards?” A company can be both a credit card network and a credit card issuer.

Due to this, credit cards on the Amex and Discover networks are mostly issued exclusively by those 2 companies (with a few exceptions). Meanwhile, a card on the Visa or Mastercard network could be issued by any other credit card company, as Visa and Mastercard do not issue their credit cards.

Make sense? Great! Now let’s do a deep dive into each U.S. major credit card company and network!

Top issuers of credit cards by volume
Top issuers of credit cards by purchase volume. Image Credit: The Nilson Report

American Express


American Express, also known as Amex, was founded in 1850 and is best known for its charge cards (like The Platinum Card® from American Express) and credit card products.

In 2016, credit cards using the American Express network accounted for 22.9% of the total dollar volume of U.S. credit card transactions. Amex is the largest issuer of charge cards and the third-largest credit card network in the U.S. As of December 2018, the company had 114 million cards in circulation, including 53.7 million cards in the U.S., each with average annual spending of $19,340.

In 2017, Forbes named American Express as the twenty-third most valuable brand in the world (and the highest within financial services), estimating the brand to be worth $24.5 billion. In 2018, Fortune ranked American Express as the fourteenth most admired company worldwide.

FoundedMarch 18, 1850Areas Served Worldwide
HeadquartersNew York CityCEOStephen J. Squeri
Revenue (2018)$36.986 billionOperating Income (2018)$8.164 billion
Employees (2018) 59,000Total Assets (2018)$188.602 billion
Cards in Circulation (2018)53.7 millionLogoGladiator/Centurion

Our Favorite Amex Cards

Amex Platinum Card

Without question, the most popular and recognizable American Express card is the Amex Platinum Card. The card is branded as a symbol of status and luxury but isn’t as difficult to be approved for as you may think.

The Amex Platinum is easily one of the best travel credit cards on the market with 5x earnings on airfare and Amex Travel bookings, combined with incredible travel benefits like hotel elite status, trip delay insurance, Uber and airline incidental credits, and best-in-class airport lounge access.

American Express Gold® Card 

Playing second fiddle to the Amex Platinum is Amex Gold card, their second most popular charge card. The Amex Gold card is perfect for those who want a powerful point earning card at a lower annual fee.

The Amex Gold card rewards cardholders with benefits like 4x points per $1 on dining worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets, 3x on airfare, a monthly dining credit with GrubHub/Seamless or select restaurants, plus an airline incidental credit.

Hot Tip: Many American Express credit card ads feature a sample American Express Card with the name “C. F. Frost” on the front. This is not a fabricated name; Charles F. Frost was an advertising executive at Ogilvy & Mather, the ad agency that coined the popular “Don’t Leave Home Without Them” campaign.

Bank of America


The Bank of America Corporation (abbreviated as BofA) is an American multinational investment bank and financial services company based in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is the second-largest banking institution in the U.S., after JPMorgan Chase.

As of August 2018, Bank of America had a $313.5 billion market capitalization, making it the thirteenth-largest company in the world. Bank of America was ranked #24 on the 2018 Fortune 500 rankings of the largest U.S. corporations by total revenue.

Bank of America is more widely known for their consumer banking and investment products, but they still have over 54.6 million credit cards in circulation.

FoundedFebruary 1784Areas Served Worldwide
HeadquartersCharlotte, N.C.CEOBrian Moynihan
Revenue (2018)$91.24 billionOperating Income (2018)$34.6 billion
Employees (2018) 205,000Total Assets (2018)$2.325 trillion
Cards in Circulation (2018)54.6 millionLogoU.S. flag

Our Favorite Bank of America Cards

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Card

Aptly named, the Premium Rewards card was Bank of America’s foray into the premium travel rewards card market. Cardholders earn 2x points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5x points per $1 on all other purchases. The points are worth a fixed 1 cent per point towards travel or cash-back.

An innovative feature of the card allows you to earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase depending on your level of investments with Bank of America. Cardholders who have at least a combined $100,000 in assets on deposit with Bank of America can earn up to 3.5x points on travel and dining purchases and up to 2.62x points on all other purchases.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card

You may be shocked to see a co-branded airline card listed here, but the Alaska Signature card is one of the best airline cards on the market, mainly due to how valuable Alaska miles can be.

Cardholders earn 3x miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases, 50% off day passes at the Alaska Lounge, and 20% back on all Alaska Airlines inflight purchases. Each account anniversary you’ll receive a companion fare for just $121 valid on all Alaska flights.

Hot Tip: Bank of America operates 4,800 retail financial centers and approximately 15,900 ATMs nationwide. 



Barclays is a British multinational investment bank and financial services company headquartered in London. Barclays launched the first U.K. credit card program in 1966 and it moved into the U.S. market in 2004.

Barclays is best known for its travel rewards credit cards and co-branded credit cards, especially their partnerships with American Airlines, JetBlue, and Lufthansa. While their presence is much smaller than many other banks, Barclays still has over 15 million cards in circulation.

FoundedNovember 1690Areas Served Worldwide
HeadquartersLondon, U.K.CEOJes Stanley
Revenue (2018)$27.11 billionOperating Income (2018)$4.48 billion
Employees (2018) 79,900Total Assets (2018)$1.145 trillion
Cards in Circulation (2018)15.7 millionLogoEagle

Our Favorite Barclays Cards

Uber Visa Card

One of the top credit card offerings from Barclay is a cash-back card. The Uber card earns 4% back on dining (including Uber Eats), 3% back on airfare and hotels, and 2% back on any online purchase like rideshares or streaming services.

Cardholders can also benefit from up to $600 in mobile phone protection, including damage and theft, when you use your Uber card to pay your monthly mobile phone bill.

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

While the AAdvantage Aviator Red card might not be the best option for your airfare purchase, it can be a solid keeper card for those who frequently fly American Airlines.

Cardholders receive great perks when flying American, like their first checked bag free, priority boarding, 25% inflight savings as statement credits on food and beverages, and $25 back as a statement credit on inflight Wi-Fi purchases.

Hot Tip: Be aware of Barclays 6/24 rule, which may cause you to be rejected from their cards if you have more than 6 new accounts in the last 24 months.

Capital One

Capital One
Image Credit: Isabelle Ohara via Shutterstock


Capital One is a bank holding company specializing in credit cards, auto loans, banking, and savings accounts, headquartered in McLean, Virginia. Capital One is ranked tenth on the list of largest banks in the U.S. by assets, ninety-eighth on the Fortune 500, and the fifth-largest credit card issuer by purchase volume.

Despite its short history, Capital One has certainly made a name for itself in the credit card market with its suite of different card offerings. In fact, in the fourth quarter of 2018, 75% of the company’s revenues were from it’s over 89 million credit cards in circulation.

Founded1994Areas Served U.S., Canada, U.K.
HeadquartersMcLean, Va.CEORichard Fairbank
Revenue (2018)$28.06 billionOperating Income (2018)$5.710 billion
Employees (2018) 48,800Total Assets (2018)$372.538 trillion
Cards in Circulation (2018)89.4 millionLogoCapital One

Our Favorite Capital One Cards

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card

You’ve likely seen dozens of commercials for the Venture card before, advertising it’s unlimited 2x miles per $1 on every purchase and all earned miles can now be transferred to one of the Capital One transfer partnersunlocking huge value!

Capital One® Savor® Rewards Credit Card

The CapOne Savor card is a compelling cash-back card that earns 4% cash-back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and a whopping 8% back on tickets through Vivid Seats (through May 2020).

Cardholders also benefit from perks like no foreign transaction fees, extended warranty on purchases, and travel accident insurance.

fact: Capital One started as a monoline bank, meaning that all of its revenue came from a single product (in this case, credit cards). The company helped pioneer the mass marketing of credit cards in the 1990s.

Credit One


Credit One is a U.S.-based bank specializing in credit cards. Their corporate office is located in Las Vegas and they are a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sherman Financial Group, LLC. Credit One focuses primarily on 2 types of products, partially and fully secured credit cards, and currently has 7 million cards in circulation in the U.S.

Founded1984Areas Served U.S.
HeadquartersLas VegasCEORobert DeJong
Revenue (2016)$465.53 millionOperating Income (2016)$109.94 million
Employees (2018) 625Total Assets (2016)$236.06 million
Cards in Circulation (2018)7 millionLogoCredit One

Our Favorite Credit One Card

Credit One Platinum Cash-Back Rewards

This no annual fee card offers 1% cash-back on all purchases, plus up to 10% cash-back with participating merchants. Cardholders also receive free online access to their Experian credit score, so you can monitor your credit health and track your progress.

Hot Tip: For the most part, credit cards from Credit One are marketed towards individuals who have zero credit or need to repair their credit. If you do not fall into either of those categories then it’s likely you can get a much better card from one of the other issuers mentioned in this post.


Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom
Image Credit: Jeremy Lende via Shutterstock


JPMorgan Chase Bank, headquartered in New York City, is the largest bank in the U.S. by total deposits. The bank was known as Chase Manhattan Bank until it merged with J.P. Morgan & Co. in 2000. The bank now employs more than 250,000 people and does business in 100+ countries.

Chase is a giant in the credit card world, with over 92 million cards in circulation, making up 31.% of the overall credit card revenue market share. Chase has excellent variety when it comes to their credit card products, from their suite of Ultimate Reward earning cards to their various co-branded partnerships with companies like United, Marriott, and Southwest.

Founded1977Areas Served Worldwide
HeadquartersNew York CityCEOJamie Dimon
Revenue (2018)$109.029 billionOperating Income (2018)$32.474 billion
Employees (2018) 250,355Total Assets (2018)$2.623 trillion
Cards in Circulation (2018)92 millionLogoConnected water pipes

Our Favorite Chase Cards

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is one of the top travel rewards cards on the market due to its combination of point earning and travel benefits.

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders earn 3x per $1 on all travel and dining purchases, a $300 annual travel credit, a $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit, a Priority Pass membership, and best-in-class travel protections.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

For business owners, the Ink Business Preferred card is one of the best business credit cards — a stellar option that earns 3x points per $1 on up to $150,000 in combined purchases on travel, shipping, advertising purchases made with social media sites or search engines, internet, cable, and phones services.

The Ink Business Preferred card is also one of the few cards to offer up to $600 per claim in cell phone protection against covered theft or damage for you and your employees listed on your monthly cell phone bill when you pay it with your card.

fact: When Chase launched the Chase Sapphire Reserve card in 2016, the demand for the card was so high that Chase ran out of the metal required to make the card!

Be aware of the Chase 5/24 rule! If you’ve opened more than 5 new credit cards in the last 24 months, Chase will almost certainly not approve you for most of their credit cards.


Image Credit: TungCheung via Shutterstock


Citigroup Inc., or Citi, is an American multinational investment bank and financial services corporation headquartered in New York City. Citigroup is ranked third on the list of largest banks in the U.S. and is ranked thirtieth on the Fortune 500 as of 2018.

Another major player in the credit card world, Citi currently has over 67 million cards in circulation, made of up of their namesake Citi ThankYou cards and co-branded cards with strategic partners like American Airlines.

Founded1812Areas Served Worldwide
HeadquartersNew York CityCEOMichael Corbat
Revenue (2018)$72.854 billionOperating Income (2018)$23.445 billion
Employees (2018) 204,000Total Assets (2018)$1.917 trillion
Cards in Circulation (2018)67 millionLogoCiti

Our Favorite CitiBank Cards

Citi Prestige® Card

While quite a few benefits have been removed from the card recently, the Citi Prestige can still be quite valuable for those who can take advantage of the 5x Citi ThankYou points on airfare and dining purchases, $250 travel credit, Priority Pass Membership, and the fourth-night-free hotel benefit that can be used twice per year.

Citi® Double Cash Card

The Citi Double Cash is touted as one of the best cash-back credit cards on the market due to its ability to earn 2% cash-back; 1% when you buy and another 1% as you pay.  The card offers no caps on cash-back and no annual fee.

Better yet, Citi recently announced that your cash-back rewards can now be transferred into Citi ThankYou points, allowing you to earn 2x ThankYou points on all purchases for every $1 you spend.

This change makes the card an industry leader when it comes to non-bonused spend, and will allow you to rack up ThankYou points fast that you can redeem for huge value!

Hot Tip: Citibank has a few different rules that determine whether or you will be eligible for their credit cards. Read all out them in our dedicated guide



Founded in 1985 as a subsidiary of Sears, it wasn’t until 2007 that Discover was spun off as an independent, publicly-traded company. Today, Discover is the country’s seventh-largest credit card issuer and fourth-largest card network, based on purchase volume.

When the Discover card was first launched, it offered consumers a small rebate on all their purchases, making it one of the first cash-back cards ever offered in the U.S.

Today, Discover still holds that reputation of a company that primarily offers cash-back cards, and with over 50 million cards in circulation, you could say they’ve been quite successful.

Founded1985Areas Served U.S.
HeadquartersChicagoCEORoger Hochschild
Revenue (2018)$10.6 billionOperating Income (2018)$4.1 billion
Employees (2018) 15,549Total Assets (2018)$32.5 billion
Cards in Circulation (2018)52 millionLogoDiscover

Our Favorite Discover Cards

Discover it® Cash Back Card

The Discover Cash-Back card is easily Discover’s most popular card offering, and you’ve likely seen several commercials advertising the card and its “cash-back match” program.

The Discover Cash-Back card offers 5% cash-back at different merchants each quarter (up to the quarterly maximum of $1,500) plus an unlimited 1% cash-back on all other purchases.

To increase those savings even further, Discover will automatically match all the cash-back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, with no limit to how much they’ll match. This effectively allows you to earn 10% back on purchases within the quarterly bonus category and 2% back on all other purchases for your first year of card membership.

Discover it® Miles Card

With the Discover Miles card, you’ll earn an unlimited 1.5x miles for every dollar spent on all purchases. Unlike airline miles, these miles are worth a fixed 1 cent per point when you redeem them towards travel.

Similar to the Discover Cash-Back card, Discover will automatically match all the miles you earn at the end of your first year. This effectively allows you to earn 3x miles on all purchases for your first year of card membership.

Image Credit: Pixabay via Pexels



Mastercard, founded in 1966 and headquartered in Purchase, New York, is the second-largest credit card network in the world with over 200 million cards in circulation worldwide. Throughout the world, it’s business model is to process payments between the banks of merchants and the card-issuing banks or credit unions of the purchasers who use a Mastercard brand debit card, credit card, or prepaid card to make purchases.

Founded1966Areas Served Worldwide
HeadquartersPurchase, N.Y.CEOAjaypal Singh Banga
Revenue (2018)$12.497 billionOperating Income (2018)$6.662 billion
Employees (2018) 13,400Total Assets (2018)$21.329 billion
Cards in Circulation (2018)200 millionLogoRed/orange Venn diagram

Our Favorite Mastercards

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

The AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite card offers 2x miles per $1 for all American Airlines spending and with restaurants and gas stations. You’ll also get preferred boarding, your first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 4 companions on the reservation, access to reduced mileage awards, and 25% off inflight food and beverage purchases made with the card.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

The IHG Premier card earns 25x points per $1 when you stay at an IHG hotel and 2x points at grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants. Cardholders get automatic Platinum Elite status with IHG, their fourth night free on award stays, plus a free anniversary night certificate valid at properties costing 40,000 points or less per night on each account anniversary.

Hot Tip: Mastercard makes up over 31% of the card network market share in the world. 

PNC Bank


PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is ranked ninth on the list of largest banks in the U.S. by assets. PNC is the fifth-largest bank by number of branches, sixth largest by deposits, and fourth-largest in number of ATMs. Their credit card offerings are rather small in comparison to other issuers, with just 5 million cards in circulation.

Founded1845Areas Served U.S.
HeadquartersPittsburghCEOWilliam Demchak
Revenue (2018)$16.329 billionOperating Income (2018)$5.338 billion
Employees (2018) 52,906Total Assets (2018)$380.768 billion
Cards in Circulation (2018)5 millionLogoGolden triangle

Our Favorite PNC Cards

PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card

With the PNC Cash Rewards card, you’ll earn 4% back on gas station purchases, 3% on dining purchases, 2% on grocery store purchases, and 1% on all other purchases for the first $8,000 in combined purchases in these categories annually. 

PNC Premier Traveler® Visa Signature® Credit Card

The PNC Premier Traveler card offers cardholders 2x miles for every $1 spent on all purchases, and no foreign transaction fees on purchases. Your PNC miles are worth a fixed 1 cent per point when you redeem them as a statement credit for travel purchases. 

Hot Tip: The name “PNC” is derived from the initials of both of the bank’s 2 predecessor companies: Pittsburgh National Corporation and Provident National Corporation, which merged in 1983.



Synchrony Financial, founded in 2003, and headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, is known for being the largest provider of private label credit cards in the U.S. The company provides private-label credit cards for such brands as Ashley HomeStores, BP, Cathay Pacific, Discount Tire, Gap, Guitar Center, J.C. Penney, Lowe’s, and many more. In fact, if you’ve ever opened a store credit card, odds are that it was issued by Synchrony.

Founded2003Areas Served U.S.
HeadquartersStamford, Conn.CEOMargaret Keane
Revenue (2018)$14.8 billionOperating Income (2018)$2.79 billion
Employees (2018) 16,500Total Assets (2018)$106.792 billion
Cards in Circulation (2018)36.7 millionLogoGolden bars

Our Favorite Synchrony Cards

Cathay Pacific Visa

The Cathay Pacific Visa card is easily the best travel rewards card that Synchrony has to offer. It earns 2x miles per dollar on purchases with Cathay Pacific, 1.5x miles per dollar on dining purchases in the U.S. or abroad, 1.5x miles per dollar on other purchases abroad, and 1x mile per dollar on other domestic purchases.

Cathay Pacific Asia miles can be very valuable when redeemed for trips on Cathay Pacific and their partners.

Amazon Prime Store Card

The Amazon Prime Store Card offers 5% cash-back on all purchases on Amazon. This makes the card extremely valuable to those who are frequent Amazon shoppers. Keep in mind that you must have an eligible Amazon Prime membership to receive the 5% cash-back on your purchases.

Hot Tip: Synchrony Bank offers over 100+ different credit card options to their customers. 



The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) was founded in 1922 by a group of 25 U.S. Army officers for mutual self-insurance when they were unable to secure auto insurance due to the perception that military officers were a high-risk group.

USAA has since expanded to offer banking and insurance services to past and present members of the Armed Forces and their families. The company ranked #100 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. corporations by total revenue and currently has over 12.4 million members.

Founded1922Areas Served Worldwide
HeadquartersSan AntonioCEOCapt. Stuart Parker
Revenue (2018)$30.016 billionOperating Income (2018)$2.422 billion
Employees (2018) 32,896Total Assets (2018)$155.391 billion
Cards in Circulation (2018)7.7 millionLogoEagle

Our Favorite USAA Card

Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

The Cashback Rewards Plus card earns 5% cash-back on your first $3,000 in combined gas station and military base purchases yearly, 2% cash-back on your first $3,000 in grocery purchases yearly, and unlimited 1% cash-back on all other purchases.

If your spending needs would require you to hit the annual cap on both gas stations and grocery stores, using this card would earn you $210 in cash-back!

Hot Tip: USAA is the eleventh largest credit card issuer in the U.S. by purchase volume and outstanding balances.

U.S. Bank


U.S. Bank National Association is the fifth-largest bank in the U.S. and the sixth-largest credit card issuer based on purchase volume. The company offers many co-branded credit cards with corporate partners like Ace, Club Carlson, Harley-Davidson, and Kroger. U.S. Bank rewards cards are also offered under the company’s FlexPerks brand name.

Founded1968Areas Served Worldwide
HeadquartersMinneapolisCEOAndrew Cecere
Revenue (2018)$22.057 billionOperating Income (2018)$6.218 billion
Employees (2018) 72,402Total Assets (2018)$462.04 billion
Cards in Circulation (2018)21 millionLogoU.S. Bank

Our Favorite U.S. Bank Cards

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

While the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card is only open to those who have a preexisting relationship with U.S. Bank, it’s a fantastic option for those who are eligible. Cardholders earn 3x points for every $1 on travel purchases and mobile wallet spending, a $325 annual statement credit for travel purchases, a Priority Pass membership, and 12 complimentary Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi passes per year.

U.S. Bank Cash 365American Express Card

The Cash 365 card is a straightforward cash-back card that offers an unlimited 1.5% back on every purchase, all with no annual fee. You can receive your cash-back in a variety of ways, including as a deposit to your U.S. Bank checking or savings account, a statement credit on your monthly bill, or a prepaid Visa rewards card.

Hot Tip: U.S. Bank operates under the second-oldest continuous national charter, originally Charter #24, granted in 1863.

Card Brands Ranked by Transactions
Visa remains the largest card network in the world. Image Credit: The Nilson Report



Visa is a credit card network that facilitates electronic funds transfers throughout the world, most commonly through Visa-branded credit cards, gift cards, and debit cards. Visa does not issue any of its own cards or extend credit. Visa is the U.S. largest card payment organization, and the world’s second-largest (debit and credit cards combined), surpassed only by China UnionPay, based on the annual value of card payments transacted and the number of issued cards.

Founded1961Areas Served Worldwide
HeadquartersFoster City, Calif.CEOAlfred Kelley
Revenue (2018)$20.609 billionOperating Income (2018)$13.749 billion
Employees (2018) 17,000Total Assets (2018)$69.225 billion
Cards in Circulation (2018)335 millionLogoVisa

Our Favorite Visa Cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Sapphire Preferred card is one of the most popular travel rewards cards on the market, and with benefits like 2x points per $1 spend on dining and travel, no foreign transaction fees, and flexible redemption options (including transfer partners), it’s easy to see why. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is one of our top picks for people who are brand new to the world of points and miles!

Chase Freedom® Card

The Chase Freedom card earns 5% back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter, with no annual fee. The card can be extremely valuable when paired with a premium Chase Ultimate Reward earning card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card or Chase Sapphire Preferred card. This allows you to use the points earned with your Freedom card for one of the many Chase transfer partners.

Hot Tip:  In 2015, The Nilson Report, a publication that tracks the credit card industry, found that Visa’s global network processed 100 billion transactions during 2014 with a total volume of $6.8 trillion.

Wells Fargo


Wells Fargo, founded in 1852, is the world’s fourth-largest bank by both market capitalization and total assets, as well as ranked number 26 on the 2018 Fortune 500.

While Wells Fargo’s present in the credit card market is nearly as large as the other big 4 banks (Chase, Citi, and Bank of America), it is the eighth-largest credit card issuer in the U.S. with over 24 million cards in circulation.

Founded1852Areas Served Worldwide
HeadquartersSan FranciscoCEOCharles Scharf
Revenue (2018)$86.4 billionOperating Income (2018)$30.28 billion
Employees (2018) 258,700Total Assets (2018)$1.895 trillion
Cards in Circulation (2018)24 millionLogoWells Fargo

Our Favorite Wells Fargo Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

With the Wells Fargo Propel card, you’ll earn 3x points on dining, gas, travel (including hotels and rideshares), and on popular streaming services like Netflix and Spotify. The card also features no foreign transaction fees, plus $600 of cell phone protection against covered damage or theft when you pay your bill with your card.

Points can be redeemed for 1 cent per point towards travel or statement credits.

Hot Tip: Wells Fargo was founded to meet the banking needs of pioneers during the California Gold Rush, and holds the first-ever banking charter issued by the U.S. government.

Final Thoughts

Credit cards and the banks that issue them are a dynamic industry that continues to grow rapidly, as the world and our purchases become more globally connected.

Be sure to always take your time to research credit card offers and the companies behind them. Whether it is about your credit score, rewards program, or even the companies that issue the cards, the more you know — the better!

The information regarding the Capital One® Savor® Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and was not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

Frequently asked questions

When did credit cards first originate?

Charge cards first originated in 1946 when John Biggins launched the “Charg-It” card. Purchases were forwarded to his bank, where he reimbursed the merchant and would later obtain payment from the customer.

The Diners Club Card, which debuted in 1950, holds the claim for the first credit card in widespread use.

How many total credit cards are in circulation?

According to The Nilson Report, as of 2017, there are a total of 1.06 billion credit cards in circulation, amounting to over 41 billion transactions in the U.S., and $3.8 trillion in purchase volume.

What is the largest credit card issuer?

The largest credit card issuers is Chase Bank with 92 million cards in circulation.

The largest credit card network is Visa with over 335 million cards being processed over its network.

What is the difference between a credit card and a charge card?

The 2 main differences between a charge card and a credit card are that charge cards have no pre-set spending limit and balances must be paid in full each month.

Many people think charge cards have no credit limit, but this is not true. Charge cards like the Amex Platinum card do not give cardholders a set spending limit, but they will start declining purchases if they believe your balance is becoming higher than you can afford to pay each month.

Similarly, with a charge card, your balance must be paid in full each month. This is not the case with most credit cards, as they allow you to make a minimum or partial payment and carry the rest of the balance over while being charged interest. However, if your charge card is not paid in full, you won’t be able to use your card for any other purchases until it is.

What is the difference between a credit card issuer and a credit card network?

A credit card company issuer is any company that issues credit cards, like Bank of America, Chase, or Wells Fargo.

Card networks work with credit card processors to transport your transaction data between the issuing bank and the merchant you’ve made your purchase with. However, they, too, can issue credit cards. Card networks are companies like Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover.

Jarrod West

About Jarrod West

Born and raised just outside of Cincinnati, Jarrod became fascinated with using points and miles as the perfect way to visit dream destinations without breaking the bank. Thanks to points and miles, Jarrod was able to spend 3 months traveling Europe financed nearly entirely with points and miles; while flying in premium cabins and staying in 5-star hotels along the way. To date, Jarrod has traveled to 16 countries and 22 US states.

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