Credit and Debit Card Market Share by Network and Issuer
If you ask the average American which credit cards are the most common, they'll probably tell you that Visa and Mastercard dominate the market.
But to what degree is that true? Which credit card network has the highest market share? Which issuers are most popular?
We dug into the most recent data from the Nilson Report, the premier collection of financial data, to get you the answers. Read on for information on credit and debit card market share by network, issuer, and more.
- 83.14% of American adults had a debit card in 2020.
- 72.5% of American adults had a credit card in 2020.
- In 2020, over 85% of all cards in the United States were debit cards or prepaid debit cards.
- Almost half of Americans had a Visa credit card in 2020.
- There were more Visa credit cards in circulation than any other type of credit card in 2020.
- Visa accounted for about half of the purchase volume on credit cards in 2020.
- Chase had the largest credit card market share of any issuer in 2020, when measured by outstanding balances.
- Almost 3 out of 4 Americans had a Visa debit or prepaid card in 2020.
- Bank of America had the largest debit card market share of any issuer in 2020, when measured by purchase volume.
The payment card landscape
Credit, debit, and prepaid card usage in America is on the up, with total card purchases predicted to generate $12.9 trillion in 2025.
There were more debit cards (including prepaid cards) in circulation than credit cards in 2020, and the overall purchase volume was significantly higher on debit and prepaid cards.
How many Americans have debit and credit cards?
These figures come from a 2021 Nilson Report:
- 214.8 million adults in the U.S. (83.14%) had a debit card in 2020.
- 187.3 million adults (72.50%) had a credit card in 2020.
Those numbers are projected to rise. By 2025, it's estimated that 85.12% of adults will hold a debit card and 73.80% will hold a credit card.
How many cards do Americans have?
Not only do most adults in the U.S. hold a debit or credit card or both, but many adults hold more than one. The Nilson Report noted that there were 7.37 billion credit, debit, and prepaid general purpose and private label cards in circulation in the U.S. in 2020.
That's about 22 cards per person.
Keep in mind, though, many of those cards were prepaid cards.
Debit and credit card purchase volume
The purchase volume on all electronic payment cards in the U.S. rose to $7.974 trillion in 2020, according to the Nilson Report. That's up 0.8% from 2019.
Purchase volume on credit and debit cards
In 2020, Americans spent more dollars on debit cards than credit cards.
Of the nearly $8 trillion in electronic payment card purchases in 2020, credit card purchase volume accounted for 48.59% and debit card purchase volume accounted for 51.41%.
By 2025, the purchase volume on all electronic payment cards in the U.S. is projected to rise to $12.862 trillion.
Credit card market share: which cards do Americans carry and which do they use?
As we've seen, over 7 in 10 Americans had a credit card in 2020.
Visa stood out as the most popular credit card network. It also had a high number of cards in circulation and a correspondingly high purchase volume.
In contrast, while over 4 in 10 Americans had store credit cards in 2020, they didn't spend a lot on them.
The average purchase amount for a credit card transaction was $90.
Credit card market share by number of cardholders
Almost half of Americans had a Visa credit card in 2020:
Here's how the market share breaks down by card network:
- 48.71% of American adults had a Visa credit card in 2020,
- 43.40% of American adults had a store credit card in 2020,
- 38.82% of American adults had a Mastercard credit card in 2020,
- 17.88% of American adults had a Discover credit card in 2020,
- 14.98% of American adults had an American Express credit card in 2020,
- 9.9% of American adults had an oil company credit card in 2020.
- 6.10% of American adults had other credit cards in 2020.
Credit card market share by cards in circulation
There were 1.08 billion general purpose and private label credit cards in circulation in the United States at the end of 2020, a decline of 0.9% when compared to year-end 2019:
- Visa: 341.72 million
- Store credit cards: 336.82 million
- Mastercard: 245 million
- Discover: 59.80 million
- American Express: 53.80 million
- Oil company credit cards: 32.20 million
- Other credit cards: 18.18 million
Credit card market share by purchase volume
Visa accounted for just over half of the purchase volume on credit cards in 2020:
- Visa credit: 50.05%
- Mastercard credit: 21.60%
- American Express credit: 17.85%
- Store credit: 4.99%
- Discover credit: 3.69%
- Oil credit: 1.37%
- Other credit: 0.45%
How will that change in the future? Here's what the Nilson Report predicts:
- The purchase volume on American Express credit cards will grow 81.7% by 2025.
- The purchase volume on Discover credit cards will grow 66.5% by 2025.
- The purchase volume on Mastercard credit cards will grow 64.6% by 2025.
- The purchase volume on Visa credit cards will grow 57.6% by 2025.
Credit card debt and credit card spending decreased during the early months of the pandemic
The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection reported that consumer credit card debt has been increasing every year since 2011. However, this trend reversed course following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection noted that credit card debt was at its peak in 2019 at $926 billion. By the second quarter of 2020, credit card balances totaled $811 billion, the largest six-month reduction in U.S. history.
Consumers likely adjusted their purchase habits during the beginning months of the pandemic. It's also likely that federal relief programs made an impact.
Consumers with superprime credit scores (scores of 720 or greater) accounted for 83% of the purchase volume on general purpose credit cards, consumers with prime scores (scores from 660 to 719) accounted for 11%, and the remaining credit score tiers made up 6%.
The American Bankers Association noted that due to the pandemic, credit card issuers had a more guarded approach to new account generation and credit lines in Q2 of 2020. New account volume fell by more than 5% -- the lowest level in five years.
Credit lines fell sharply among prime accounts.
Monthly purchase volumes fell at a historic pace during Q2 of 2020, especially among prime accounts. However, credit card spending picked up later in the year.
According to the American Bankers Association, monthly purchase volumes continued to rise in Q4 of 2020. Subprime cardholders were approaching pre-pandemic purchase volume levels, while prime and super-prime purchase volumes also recovered greatly.
Outstanding balances on credit cards in the U.S. totaled more than $1 trillion
As reported by the Nilson Report, at the end of 2020, outstanding balances on credit cards in the U.S. totaled $1.003 trillion, down 14.3% from 2019. In terms of outstanding balance, Visa held the largest credit card market share:
- Visa: 41.70%
- Mastercard: 27.41%
- Store credit cards: 11.74%
- American Express: 10.17%
- Discover: 7.13%
- Other credit cards: 1.27%
- Oil credit cards: 0.58%
Credit card market share by network (outstanding balances)
According to the Nilson Report, the 2020 market share for the top 10 issuers of general purpose credit cards based on outstanding balances was as follows:
- Chase: 16.6%
- Citi: 11.8%
- American Express: 10.9%
- Bank of America: 10.2%
- Capital One: 10.2%
- Discover: 8.3%
- U.S. Bank: 4.3%
- Wells Fargo: 3.5%
- Barclays: 2.5%
- Navy Federal Credit Union: 2.3%
The top 10 credit card issuers controlled 80.6% of the market, while other issuers made up the final 19.4%.
Debit card market share: how do Americans use their debit cards?
In 2020, there were 6.28 billion general purpose and private label debit cards in the U.S., and over 80% of Americans had at least one debit card.
It's worth noting that many of these debit cards were prepaid debit cards.
Visa debit cards had a larger market share than Mastercard debit cards in 2020.
Debit card market share by number of cards
The number of general purpose and private label debit cards increased 3.8% to 6.28 billion (or 85.25% of all cards) between 2019 and 2020.
Debit card market share by purchase volume
Over half of all purchase volume on debit and prepaid cards were on Visa branded cards in 2020:
- Visa debit and prepaid cards: 54.42%
- Mastercard debit and prepaid cards: 22.14%
- Domestic debit cards: 15.54%
- Private label prepaid cards: 7.56%
- ACH cards: 0.34%
Between 2020 and 2025, the purchase volume on Visa debit and prepaid cards is expected to grow by 68.7% from $2.231 billion to $3.764 billion.
Debit card market share by issuer (purchase volume)
A recent Nilson Report revealed the 2020 top issuers of general purpose debit and prepaid cards in terms of purchase volume for goods and services.
Bank of America topped the debit card market share when it came to purchase volume, beating out Wells Fargo for the top spot in 2019
- Bank of America: $392.0 billion
- Wells Fargo: $379.0 billion
- Chase: $351.8 billion
- PNC: $89.5 billion
- U.S. Bank: $86.4 billion
- Truist: $76.2 billion
- The Bancorp Bank: $75.7 billion
- USAA: $71.3 billion
- Navy FCU: $70.4 billion
- ICBA Bancard: $56.6 billion
Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase dominated the ranking, with the rest of the top 10 bringing in significantly less purchase volume.
- American Bankers Association (2020). "Credit Card Market Monitor."
- American Bankers Association (2021). "Credit Card Market Monitor."
- Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (2019). "The Consumer Credit Card Market."
- Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (2021). "The Consumer Credit Card Market."
- Nilson Report (2021). "The Nilson Report Issue 1192 | February 2021."
- Nilson Report (2021). "The Nilson Report Issue 1196 | April 2021."
- Nilson Report (2021). "The Nilson Report Issue 1207 | October 2021."
- Nilson Report (2022). "The Nilson Report Issue 1213 | February 2022."
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