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Largest U.S. Credit Card Issuers: 2017 Market Share Report

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Find out who are the largest credit card issuers in the United States based on the number of outstanding debts, and active credit card accounts. We also highlight interesting trends that reveal how the market share is shifting, especially among smaller credit card issuers.
desk with credit card documents
desk with credit card documents Source: Getty Images

The largest credit card company in the United States is Citibank, when measured by outstanding loans, active user accounts and total lines of credit. The company has $144B in credit card loans to U.S. consumers, which makes up roughly 18% of the total loan market. Citi is followed closely by JPMorgan Chase, with $124B in loans, and Capital One with $91B.

American’s Largest Credit Card Issuers: Key Statistics

  • Citibank holds most of America's credit card debt and has the most active credit card accounts, as of Q4 2016. The next two largest credit card issuers are JPMorgan Chase and Capital One, respectively. Combined, these three companies account for close to 40% of the nation's outstanding credit card debt.
  • Among the top 10 banks, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, and Barclays have grown their number of active user accounts at a significantly faster rate than the top three banks. On average, these companies acquired 66% more active user accounts in the last 5 years, through aggressive underwriting and new co-brand partnerships. At the same time, Citibank and Chase increased their number of active accounts by just 3%.
  • Visa and American Express processed the largest amount of U.S. credit card purchases in 2016. They processed $1.6T and $0.7T respectively. When looking at both debit and credit card transactions, Visa still holds the #1 spot, while Mastercard trumps American Express.

Who Are The Biggest Credit Card Issuers in the United States?

Citibank holds the largest share of America's credit card debt. The size of an issuer's card loan portfolio is one of the best measures for determining market share since it’s a function of both how many credit cards are issued and how much those are used. Together, the largest 10 credit card issuers — Citi, Chase, Capital One, Bank of America, Discover, Synchrony Financial, American Express, Wells Fargo, Barclays, and U.S. Bank — hold roughly 89% of total revolving credit card debt in the United States.

A graph showing credit card loans of the top U.S. issuers for Q1 2017

In 2016, Capital One Financial took over the #3 spot from Bank of America, which the company held since before 2012. One name most people may not be familiar with from this list is Synchrony Financial (previously GE Capital). This bank is responsible for issuing many of the U.S. store credit cards.

Which Banks Have the Most Credit Card Accounts?

Another effective way to evaluate who the biggest credit card issuers are is to look at the number of active credit card accounts held by each banks. This data reflects cards issued in the United States, and only counts the primary account card – authorized user cards do not inflate the scores.

Company Name

Number Active Cardholder Accounts
% of Total Market Share
Citigroup Inc.95.4M17.09%
JPMorgan Chase & Co.82.8M14.84%
American Express Co.*62.7M11.23%
Capital One Financial Corp.62.1M11.13%
Bank of America Corp.58.2M10.43%
Discover Financial Services38.7M6.94%
Synchrony Bank (Formerly GE Capital Retail Bank)36.7M6.57%
Wells Fargo & Co.23.2M4.15%
Barclays Bank Delaware16.3M2.93%
U.S. Bancorp13.7M2.46%

*Includes American Express Co, American Express Centurion Bank, and American Express Bank, FSB

We found that the number of active users correlates strongly to the total outstanding credit card debt held with each of these banks. American Express was the most notable outlier in the data. While the company places at #7 in terms of outstanding debt (as seen in the graph above), it performs significantly better when measured by both active accounts and total lines of credit issued. This highlights a notable flaw of measuring credit card issuer size by outstanding loans alone. The user base of American Express may be larger than some other U.S. card issuers, though at the same time they may take on less debt-month-to month, or pay off their cards more frequently.

The smaller credit card issuers on the list — U.S. Bank, Barclays, and Wells Fargo — have all been gaining market share at a much faster rate than the top banks on the list. While Citi and Chase grew their total active accounts by 3% in the last 5 years, the small issuers managed to take on 66% more accounts in that same time. One possible explanation for this is that smaller banks are more willing to issue new credit cards to subprime borrowers in order to grow their pool of users. Their aggressive lending tactics could be one reason for their rate of growth.

Which Credit Card Issuers Offer The Largest Lines of Credit

Finally, another good way to determine who the largest U.S. credit card issuer are is to look at the total lines of credit they provide to their cardholders. This metric shows which banks have the biggest amount of liability and exposure from their card business. Very little changes here at the top of the list, with Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase coming out on top yet again.

Company Name

Total Credit Card Line
Overall Market Share
Citigroup Inc.$815B17.1%
JPMorgan Chase$685B14.4%
American Express*$519B10.9%
Bank of America$457B9.6%
Capital One$411B8.6%
GE Capital$405B8.5%
Wells Fargo$153B3.2%
U.S. Bank$148B3.1%
World Financial Network National Bank$116B2.4%

*Includes American Express Co, American Express Centurion Bank, and American Express Bank, FSB

Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover: Who Is The Largest Credit Card Network?

Visa is by far the largest credit card network around. In the United States, the volume of purchases processed on the network is over twice what it is for American Express and Mastercard credit cards. Discover is in a far fourth place, with $0.121 trillion in purchases processed in 2016.

2016 U.S. Purchase Volume

One thing to note about the above graph is that we only included Mastercard credit card transactions, and excluded debit card sales. For American Express, the vast majority of their processed transactions are consumer credit. The same is true of Discover. Therefore, for both Visa and Mastercard we only included credit purchase volume. If debit were included, Visa and Mastercard would come out significantly ahead of the other two card networks, in that order.