Card Brands

A card brand (sometimes called a card network or association) is an organization that facilitates payment card transactions. It regulates who, where, and how cards are used. Examples of card brands include Visa®, Mastercard®, American Express®, Discover®, China UnionPay®, and JCB®.

Some card brands, such as Visa and Mastercard, partner with industry members to perform different tasks throughout the payment lifecycle. For example:

  • Issuing banks issue credit and debit cards to qualified consumers. With these cards, consumers can make purchases at authorized businesses.
  • Acquiring banks provide merchant accounts to qualified businesses. When a customer makes a purchase at a business, the acquiring bank collects the funds from the issuing bank and deposits them into the merchant account

Other card brands, such as American Express and Discover, have more independence. For example, these networks may partner with issuers but they predominately issue cards directly to cardholders without any assistance. Likewise, some transactions are processed by acquirers, but the majority are processed by the brand.

Card brands regulate much of the transaction processing workflow, including chargebacks and disputes. Learn more about brand-specific policies and important updates in the following articles.

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