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.
- 82% of American adults had a debit card in 2018, the most recent year for which this data has been published.
- 72% of American adults had a credit card in 2018.
- In 2018, over 70% of all cards in the United States were prepaid debit cards.
- Almost half of Americans had a Visa credit card in 2018.
- There were more store credit cards in circulation than any other type of card in 2018.
- Visa accounted for about half of the purchase volume on credit cards in 2018.
- Chase had the largest credit card market share of any issuer in 2019, when measured by outstanding balances.
- Almost 3 out of 4 Americans had a Visa debit card in 2018.
- Wells Fargo had the largest debit card market share of any issuer in 2019, when measured by purchase volume.
The payment card landscape
Credit and debit card usage in America is on the up, with total card purchases predicted to top $10 trillion by 2023.
Americans were slightly more likely to hold a debit card in 2018, but the overall purchase volume was higher on credit cards.
How many Americans have debit and credit cards?
These figures come from a 2019 Nilson Report:
- 208.7 million adults in the U.S. (82.20%) had a debit card in 2018.
- 182 million adults (71.67%) had a credit card in 2018.
Those numbers are projected to rise. By 2023, it’s estimated that 84.58% of adults will hold a debit card and 73.37% 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, but many adults hold more than one. The Nilson Report noted that there were 6.96 billion credit, debit, and prepaid cards in the U.S. in 2018.
That’s about 21 per person.
Keep in mind, though, that of the nearly 7 billion cards in the U.S., 71.7% were prepaid debit cards.
Debit and credit card purchase volume
The purchase volume on all electronic payment cards in the U.S. rose to $7.27 trillion in 2018, according to the Nilson Report. That’s up almost 10% from 2017.
Of the over $7 trillion in electronic payment card purchases in 2018, credit card purchase volume accounted for 54.17% (up from 52.87% in 2013) and debit card purchase volume accounted for 45.83% (down from 47.13% in 2013).
By 2023, the purchase volume on all electronic payment cards in the U.S. is projected to rise to $10.086 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 2018.
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 2018, they didn’t spend a lot on them.
The average amount of a credit card purchase transaction was $90.73, up nearly 1% from 2017.
Credit card market share by number of cardholders
Almost half of Americans had a Visa credit card in 2018:
Here’s how the market share of breaks down by card network:
- 49.26% of American adults had a Visa credit card in 2018,
- 44.16% of American adults had a store credit card in 2018,
- 38.95% of American adults had a Mastercard credit card in 2018,
- 17.52% of American adults had a Discover credit card in 2018, and
- 15.00% of American adults had an American Express credit card in 2018.
At first glance, 44% of adults with a store credit card (also known as a private label card) may seem high, but that number has actually been trending down since the Great Recession.
Credit card market share by cards in circulation
There were over 1.1 billion credit cards in circulation in the United States in 2018. The market share of credit cards in circulation was pretty evenly distributed:
- Store credit cards: 392 million (34.93%)
- Visa: 338 million (30.09%)
- Mastercard: 231 million (20.55%)
- Discover: 57 million (5.10%)
- American Express: 54 million (4.78%)
- Other: 51.2 million (4.57%)
Credit card market share by purchase volume
Visa accounted for about half of the purchase volume on credit cards in 2018:
- Visa credit: 49.70%
- Mastercard credit: 20.60%
- American Express credit: 19.61%
- Store credit: 4.62%
- Discover credit: 3.53%
- Other credit: 1.93%
How will that change in the future? Here’s what the Nilson Report predicts:
- The purchase volume on Mastercard credit cards will grow 53.4% by 2023.
- The purchase volume on American Express credit cards will grow 42.9% by 2023.
- The purchase volume on Visa credit cards will grow 34.6% by 2023.
Mastercard debit cards are also predicted to grow faster than Visa debit cards over the same time period.
Superprime consumers are driving credit card purchase volume trends
Even though the purchase volume on electronic payment cards continues to rise, the amount of debt consumers carry on their credit cards continues to do the opposite.
The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection reported that credit card debt as a percentage of purchase volume had fallen from 64.7% in 1996 to 26.5% in 2018.
Consumers with superprime credit scores (scores of 720 or greater) accounted for 82% of the purchase volume on credit cards, consumers with prime scores (scores from 660 to 719) accounted for 13%, and the remaining credit score tiers made up 5%.
The American Bankers Association reported in 2019 that as consumers exhibit good payment behavior, issuers are responding by slowly increasing credit lines; however, issuers are also slowing the pace of new account openings, particularly for prime (credit scores from 680 to 759) and subprime (scores less than 680) borrowers.
Outstanding balances on credit cards in the U.S. totaled more than $1 trillion
As reported by the Nilson Report, at the end of 2018, outstanding balances on credit cards in the U.S. totaled $1.124 trillion, up 5.8% from 2017. In terms of outstanding balance, Visa held the largest credit card market share:
- Visa: 41.93%
- Mastercard: 27.54%
- Store credit cards: 11.64%
- American Express: 10.67%
- Discover: 6.49%
Other networks had the final 1.73%.
Credit card market share by network (outstanding balances)
According to the Nilson Report, the 2019 market share for the top 10 issuers of credit cards based on outstanding balances was as follows:
- Chase: 16.6%
- Citi: 11.6%
- American Express: 11.3%
- Bank of America: 10.7%
- Capital One: 10.5%
- Discover: 7.6%
- Wells Fargo: 4.3%
- U.S. Bank: 4.1%
- Barclays: 2.6%
- Synchrony: 2.0%
Other issuers made up the final 18.7%. The top 10 credit card issuers controlled 81.3% of the market, while none of the remaining issuers had a market share larger than 2%.
Debit card market share: how do Americans use their debit cards?
In 2018, there were about 5.8 trillion debit cards in the U.S., and over 80% of Americans had at least one debit card.
It’s worth noting that prepaid credit cards made up over 85% of the debit cards in circulation, but they accounted for less than 10% of the purchase volume. In contrast, Visa debit cards represented less than 10% of the total cards, but over half the purchases.
Debit card market share by number of cardholders
Visa debit cards had a larger market share than Mastercard debit cards in 2018, but Mastercard is predicted to grow faster until at least 2023.
Debit card market share by number of cards
The number of general purpose and private label debit cards increased 3.8% to 5.84 billion (or 83.85% of all cards) between 2017 and 2018.
Prepaid cards made up the lion’s share of debit cards in circulation at 4.9 billion (85.50%), followed by Visa debit cards at 561 million (9.61%), and Mastercard debit cards at 216 million (3.69%).
Debit card market share by purchase volume
Around half of all purchase volume on debit cards were on Visa branded cards in 2018:
- Visa debit: 51.86%
- Mastercard debit: 21.79%
- Prepaid debit: 8.45%
The rest of purchases are made up of electronic funds transfer (EFT) cards without Visa and Mastercard branding as well as a small amount of ACH card purchases. EFT networks include names like PULSE, Star Systems, and NYC.
Between 2018 and 2023, the purchase volume on ACH debit cards is expected to grow by 56.7%, more than any other type of electronic payment card. (ACH cards are like EFT cards, but use a slightly different processing system.)
Debit card market share by issuer (purchase volume)
A recent Nilson Report revealed the 2019 top issuers of general purpose debit and prepaid cards in terms of purchase volume for goods and services.
Wells Fargo topped the debit card market share when it came to purchase volume:
- Wells Fargo: $363.8 billion
- Bank of America: $346.6 billion
- Chase: $345.6 billion
- PNC: $80.1 billion
- Truist: $75.7 billion
- US Bank: $72.0 billion
- USAA: $65.6 billion
- Bancorp: $62.9 billion
- Navy FCU: $59.3 billion
- TD Bank: $51.5 billion
Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Chase dominated the ranking, with the rest of the top 10 bringing in significantly less purchase volume.
View more information: https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/research/credit-debit-card-market-share-network-issuer/