Credit Card Networks in Contrast to Card Issuers
We all live within the context of the modern economic world offering almost infinite options of diverse financial tools to the consumers. Thus, making a choice does not frequently look an easy matter. And credit cards are not an exception here, as all these names of payment systems, card issuing institutions, all these characteristics, questions arising about pros and cons may nonplus even quite experienced people, let alone newcomers. So, how to make the right choice?
We will try to help you a little and explain some main points about credit card networks and issuers, noticing, above all, that each case is individual and a sensible decision depends on your awareness of details.
Payment Cards Networks
Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover.... Most of you have already met these names in your daily life, for they are the names of the four major international payment networks. Generally, they manage and exercise control over the whole system of relations between merchants and card issuers including acceptance, transactions and other related subjects. Such networks are in some sense “a big boss” to those, who put the cards into circulation and have to pay a special interchange fee (alternatively called “swipe fee” by economists) for the acceptance of card transactions, whereas cardholders' charges, like annual fees, interests, overseas payments rates and others, are not their matter.
The most popular and well-known around the globe credit card operating facilities are, obviously, Visa and Mastercard. Who's the best? Frankly, it's hard to say.... Both of them are eager to please their holders with a variety of “goodies”, something like different types of insurances, special benefits for travel, shopping and sports perks and so forth. The membership programs are also almost equal and offer several service levels to the clients depending on their finances and needs.
Naturally, you may ask about acceptance.... The real situation shows that there is practically no difference either, since finding a store, a restaurant or an on-line paying platform, which does not deal with one of the two, is becoming pretty hard today. Though, just for justice, Mastercard is statistically present in more countries than Visa (210 against 170).
You might say “Ok, but I heard from some of my friends that they had once faced the situation when their cards had not been accepted by a retailer or a service...”. Things like that happen from time to time, and the best way out for a customer is to hold cards from various payment networks and be less vulnerable and more free with their financial operations.
Payment Cards Issuing Organizations
When you want your credit card, you are not supposed to address Visa or Mastercard directly, since they do not deal with its issuing and processing. There are banks, credit unions and some other organizations for this purpose, which handle applications and decide on approvals and denials, determine benefits and periods of validity, back cardholders financially in their transactions and receive payments from them, provide technical and information support and other customer services. Therefore, if you're curious, for instance, about cash back or other rewards, ask the bank in which you get your card.
Nonetheless, there exist some exceptions, when a card network acts as an issuing body and does not let any intermediaries in their system (eg, American Express or Discover). These companies prefer direct dealing with their consumers, so you should look for their products in their offices.
In conclusion, we suggest you should better understand your needs and purposes, get more information about card types and benefits they provide, the possible drawbacks and merits. All smallest details are important for your choice, for a right payment card often means freedom for opportunities.