Is American Express a Visa or MasterCard?

Image Credit: Air Force One

Q:

Is American Express a Visa or MasterCard?

A:

The world of credit cards is often puzzling, which is partly due to the number of different cards available. One of the many questions people have is if there is a correlation between American Express and Visa or MasterCard. Let’s take a look at these credit cards and determine if American Express is a Visa or MasterCard.

The four major credit card networks in the United States are Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. All four are separate companies, which are publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Visa trades under the stock symbol (V), MasterCard (MA), Discover (DFS), and American Express (AXP).

American Express issues their own credit cards and they are not related to Visa or MasterCard. When you apply for an American Express card and are approved, the company issues your credit card directly to you.

This differs from Visa and MasterCard who use financial institutions such as banks to issue their credit cards. For example, if you visit the website of a major bank such as bankofamerica.com or capitalone.com, you can apply for various credit cards that are either a Visa or MasterCard. Visa and MasterCard do not issue their credit cards directly to you.

Discover is similar to American Express in that they also issue their own credit cards directly to the customer.