Will Visa and Mastercard maintain its dominance despite competition? What is their market share?

Visa (V) and Mastercard (MA) have maintained dominance in the electronic payments industry for more than 50 years. These two iconic American companies handle the majority of electronic payments going through debit and credit cards throughout the world. Even in places like Russia cards from the largest local bank named Sberbank feature a VISA logo. Both of these companies have made a terrific investment since their IPOs, growing exponentially in value.

However, nowadays they face more competition than before. China’s Unionpay has grown in value, capturing the valuable East Asian Market. Japan’s JCB also directly competes with V and MC. And recently, a group of key European banks announced that they too are working on a competing European payment service.  But just as Google and Facebook have competitors, none of them seem to have the global appeal that Visa and Mastercard have. Their competitors seem more focused on local markets, where as visa and mastercard cater to the global market. It also seems that payment services can work in unison, accepting both Unionpay and Visa, for example.

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 third-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 way ahead of all other credit card brands. In 2017, the Visa market share was 50%. Meaning, this brand accounted for half of all credit card purchases worldwide.

The runner-up Mastercard has just over half of Visa’s market share by purchase transactions. In 2017, 25.6% of global credit card purchases were made using a Mastercard. UnionPay was the third most popular card brand worldwide. This brand stood behind 19.8% of all credit card transactions.

American Express, JCB, and Discover were the three least used cards in 2017 globally. American Express held a market share of only 2.5%. Still, this percentage was much better than the 1.1% and 0.08% of transactions processed by JCB and Discover, respectively.

Global Network Cards Purchase Transaction Value

Nilson Report’s 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, in contrast, American Express held 23% of the market, while the Chase credit card market share was only 17%.

Let’s see how the market share of the largest credit card issuers in the US progressed between 2009 and 2019. Chase recorded a market share of 20% in 2019, up from the 17% seen in 2009. American Express had a market share of 23% in 2009, which fell to 20% in 2019. The list of top three credit card issuers by purchase volume ends with Citi. This processor held 11% of the market in 2019, the same as in 2009.

Bank of America, Capital One, U.S. Bank, and Discover are the other leading card issuers in the United States. Their respective market shares in 2019 were 10%, 9%, 4%, and 4%. All the other processors covered the remaining 22% of the credit card market share.

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 though these cards was $2.08 trillion, 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. Over 77 billion purchase transactions in 2018 were made via debit cards, while over 40 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. The Discover card market share, finally, was insignificant as the brand’s transaction volume was only $0.14 trillion.

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 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.

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%.

Market Share of Card Brands in Europe

In Europe, Visa has been the leading card in terms of market share for the past five years. Its dominance, however, has been weakening as Mastercard’s client base started to improve.

Between 2015 and 2019, the market share of Visa across Europe dropped by 9%. In 2015, Visa dominated the market with a share of 68%. Then, in the next three years, its market share decreased to 66%, 62%, and 60%, respectively. In 2019, the Visa market share of the European credit card market stood at 59%.

Mastercard, by contrast, saw its market share jump by 10% in the period between 2015 and 2019. In 2015, the company held 29% of the total purchase volume in Europe. In 2016, 2017, and 2018, the processor’s market share improved to 31%, 34%, and 36%, respectively. By the end of 2019, Mastercard’s European market share had hit 39%.

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 2019. Diners hasn’t seen any notable changes in its insignificant market share of 1% during the same 5-year period.

Leading Europe Banks by Credit Card Purchase Transactions

Sberbank held the largest market share by purchase transactions in Europe. In 2019 and 2018, this bank was responsible for 20.61 billion and 14.37 billion transitions.

The second place went to Worldpay, which processed 9.67 billion transactions in 2019 and 8.79 billion in 2018. Barclays rounds up the list of payment processors with the largest credit card market share in Europe. In 2018 and 2019, this bank processed 7.34 billion and 7 billion purchases.

The list goes on with J.P. Morgan, Nets, Credit Agricole, Worldline, and Credit Mutuel. These banks’ numbers of credit card purchases in 2019 were 4.62 billion, 4.42 billion, 3.94 billion, 3.87 billion, 3.86 billion.

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 70% in 2019. Its number of purchase transactions the same year was 131.21 billion, up from 98.34 billion in 2018. Visa had a market share of 16% in the same area in 2019. Their purchase transactions counted 30.58 billion, up from 27.38 billion in 2018, 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 11% and 2%, respectively. Mastercard processed 20.95 billion transactions, while JCB’s stood at 4.13 billion.

Credit Card Market Share in Canada

While Visa and Mastercard are global leaders, Interac holds the throne in Canada. In 2019, the card’s market share was 47.2% thanks to its 6.25 billion transactions. Visa, with its 3.98 billion purchases, holds the second-largest market share in Canada or 30.1%. Mastercard and Amex are the remaining popular options. The Mastercard market share in 2019 was 21.3% and Amex’s amounted to 1.4%, while they processed 2.54 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.

Credit Card Market Share in Latin America by Purchase Volume

In Latin America, Visa had the largest market share by purchase volume of 56%. Mastercard’s purchase volume represented 36% of the credit card share in 2018 in Latin America. American Express and Discover both had held market shares under 10%, as revealed by our credit card industry analysis. Their respective market shares by purchase volume were 7% and 1%, respectively. Other minor brands held the remaining market share.

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. At the time of writing, Visa had a larger market cap than Mastercard. Visa had a market cap of $450.265 billion. The company processes about 150 million Visa transactions per day or about 1,700 transactions per second. The Mastercard market cap was lower at $342.643 billion. The brand reported processing about 5,000 Mastercard transactions per second. The market cap of American Express was $79.98 billion, and Discover’s market cap stood at $16.05 billion.


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.