Ever thought of how all the payments made with your credit card work? How and why do your banks pay for your purchases? Credit card networks are what make all these things possible by working behind the scenes. Before having a credit card, you notice a lot of things such as rewards/miles offered by the card, the bank that is issuing the card, fees, and charges, and many more such things. What most people barely notice is the credit card network, but it is an important thing that you must pay attention to.

What Are Credit Card Networks?

Credit Card Networks act like bridges between the banks that issue credit cards and the merchants or shops that accept your credit card. Networks don’t issue credit cards except American Express, but they offer various additional benefits on their products that are provided to the customers by the card issuers. Some of the major credit card networks in India are Visa, Mastercard, American Express, RuPay, Diners Club.

Credit Card Networks

Difference Between Credit Card Issuers & Credit Card Networks

Credit Card Issuers Credit Card Networks
  • Card issuers review and approve/disapprove the credit card applications.
  • They decide the credit limit on your card.
  • All the terms and conditions & fees and charges of your card are decided by the card issuer.
  • They issue physical credit cards.
  • They are responsible for providing you funds up to your credit limit.
  • They are responsible for answering the questions and resolving the doubts of their customers and hence provide customer support.
  • They decide where your credit card will be accepted and where not.
  • They approve and facilitate the transactions on credit cards.
  • They don’t issue credit cards but offer benefits on them.
  • Credit card networks are not at all responsible for the customer service provided to the cardholders.


Being among the world’s most valuable financial services companies, going by the numbers, VISA is the top card payment network globally. Although VISA doesn’t issue credit/debit cards on its own, it makes all electronic fund transfers possible throughout the Visa-branded products all over the world. It provides Visa-branded payment products to various financial institutions that are used to offer several products & services to the customers. Following are the types of cards offered by VISA:

  1. Credit Cards with 5 variants: Visa Classic, Visa Gold, Visa Platinum, Visa Signature, and Visa Infinite.
  2. Debit Cards with the 5 variants same as credit cards.
  3. Prepaid Cards


Mastercard, originally known as Interbank, is a multinational financial services company with a principal business to process payments between card-issuing banks and the customers who use Mastercard-branded products. It is the second most dominant card payment network, following VISA. Following types of cards are offered by Mastercard:

  1. Credit Cards with the variants: Standard Mastercard, World Mastercard, and World Elite Mastercard.
  2. Debit Cards with the variants: Standard Debit Mastercard, Enhanced Debit Mastercard, and World Debit Mastercard.
  3. Prepaid Cards with variants: Everyday Prepaid Mastercard, Travel Prepaid Mastercard, and Prepaid Gift Mastercard.


American Express is a card payment network as well as a card issuer unlike that of the VISA & Mastercard. Along with issuing credit, prepaid & gift cards on its own, it also provides payment solutions to other banks, such as ICICI Bank. American Express also provides its customers with exciting benefits, such as airport lounge access, with its products. Following are the types of cards issued by American Express:

  1. Credit Cards – A total of 7 retail credit cards are issued by American Express, some of which are: American Express Platinum Credit Card, American Express Gold Credit Card, etc.


Diners Club International is another card payment network and financial services company that is owned by Discover Financial Services. Diners Club was the first company that introduced credit cards to the world. It is also known for providing exclusive benefits, such as rewards & unlimited lounge access on its credit cards. In India Diners Club has partnered with HDFC Bank. Here are some of the popular cards issued on the Diners Club network in India-

  1. HDFC Diners Club Privilege
  2. HDFC Diners Club Black
  3. HDFC Diners Club Miles


RuPay is an Indian multinational financial services system that facilitates electronic payments for all Indian financial institutions and banks. It is not a card issuer but a card payment network like Visa & Mastercard that offers its products to the customer through various financial institutions and banks. RuPay-branded products also come with several benefits across some categories, including shopping, travel, etc. RuPay offers the following types of cards:

    1. Credit Cards – RuPay offers credit cards with 3 variants: Classic, Platinum, and Select.
    2. Debit Cards – RuPay offers debit cards with 3 variants: Classic, Platinum, and Select.
    3. Prepaid Cards – RuPay offers prepaid cards with 3 variants: Classic, Corporate, and Platinum.

Check here: List of Best Rupay Credit Cards in India

Bottom Line

Although most people pay less attention to credit card networks when they apply for a credit card, understanding the card network, their acceptance, and benefits provided by them can be beneficial for you when deciding to have a new credit card. The benefits like lounge access, foreign transaction conversion rate, acceptance differ among card networks. Also, it is really important to know the difference between a card issuer & a card network in order to choose the right credit card.

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