On average, each American has 3.5 credit cards in his or her wallet! Today there are more than 49 million American Express cards in use worldwide, but that’s a drop in the bucket when compared to the 171 million MasterCard and 269 million Visa logo credit cards currently in use.
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American Express introduced the first widely used and accepted plastic credit card back in 1958. Since that time, credit cards have become a way of life not only for Americans but in the most remote corners of the world as well.
Add to those numbers, the more than 500 million debit cards in consumers’ wallets and purses and the total is staggering! That adds up to more than a billion plastic cards, and for the banks and other financial concerns that provide the credit, its big business!
At the beginning of 2011, there were more than 575 million credit cards in circulation in the US alone. Using these cards, consumers in the United States have accumulated $847 billion in debt.
Who are the top 10 credit card issuers in the world?
The largest credit card issuer in the world is Bank of America/MBNA (BOA) with almost $195 billion in total credit card debt in the:
- United States
- United Kingdom
While number one on this list, BOA was only ranked tenth in the 2009 J.D. Power and Associates customer satisfaction survey, behind six other companies on this list.
The remaining nine in order, according to information gathered by news agency CNBC, are:
- Chase Bank $184.1 billion (the largest credit card provider in the US with more than 119 million cards issued, active in 28 other countries)
- Citi $148.9 billion (second largest provider of credit cards in the US, 92 million, operates in 41 other countries)
- American Express $105 billion (the company that started it all, operates in the US and 45 other countries. Amex was voted number 1 in customer satisfaction in a September 2009 survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates)
- Capital One $68.8 billion (holds 7% of the US market)
- HSBC $58.5 billion (operates in the United States and 50 other countries)
- Discover $49.6 billion (more than 54 million cards in use, a 6% decrease from 2010)
- Wells Fargo Bank $36.4 billion (more than 17 million cards in the US)
- Barclays Bank $32.6 billion (US, Germany, UK, South Africa, and more than 30 other nations)
- Lloyd’s Bank $19.3 billion (United Kingdom, more than $94 billion)
What are the largest credit card companies just in the United States?
The Nilson Report, is one of the most respected and best-known firms in the financial services industry. For more than 41 years, Nilson has published its twice-monthly report, providing its global readership with statistical research, analysis, and other information on the credit card payment systems industry.
Based on purchase volume, the top 15 credit card issuers in
the United States as of February 2011 are:
- American Express $461 billion
- Chase Bank $333 billion
- Bank of America $238 billion
- Citibank $192 billion
- Discover $92 billion
- U.S Bancorp $74 billion
- Wells Fargo $49 billion
- HSBC $31 billion
- Barclays $30 billion
- USAA $28 billion
- GE Money $21 billion
- PNC Bank $14 billion
- Cabela WFB $12 billion
- Target $9 billion
Are the major credit card banks profitable?
With all this outstanding debt, it’s hard to imagine that the major U.S. banks and other credit card companies have managed to turn a profit in recent years. The economic recession and resulting banking crisis turned huge profits into significant losses, between the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, for the majority of card issuers.
The largest 11 card issuers combined, showed losses of $5.4 billion for 2009, compared with profits of more than $7.7 billion in 2008!
The most profitable card issuer in the United States for 2009 was Capital One credit card, with a net income of just over $918 million. This figure however represented a drop of more than 8% from the previous year, 2008.
The least profitable of the top 11 U.S. card issuers in 2009, were JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, and BOA. BOA alone shouldered losses totaling almost $5.6 billion dollars, wiping out the profits from both 2007 and 2008.
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