If you have a credit card, it’s important to know who your credit card issuer is. But what counts as a credit card issuer? Is it a bank, a payment processing company or something else? Let’s run over what you should know.
What is a credit card issuer?
The credit card issuer, or provider, is a bank or financial institution that offers credit cards to customers. So, it’s the institution you actually get your credit card from.
You enter into a credit agreement with the card issuer, and you make your monthly repayments to them. They set your credit limit and decide whether it’s appropriate to adjust your limit at any point.
What are some examples of credit card issuers?
In the UK, common credit card providers include:
- Virgin Money
- Bank of Scotland
- Vanquis Bank
Are credit card providers and payment processors the same?
No, but this is a common misconception.
- The credit card issuer is the company or bank that gives you the card.
- The processor handles or processes the transactions you make through the card. Examples of payment processors include MasterCard and Visa.
Say, for example, you have a Virgin Money credit card. There’s a MasterCard logo on the front. Virgin Money is the card issuer, but MasterCard is the payment processor.
American Express is an exception to this rule. The company issues and processes its own cards. So, if you take out an American Express credit card, the company is usually also your payment processor.
How do I check who issued my credit card?
It’s easy to check your issuer. Here are some tips:
- Does your credit card come from a bank, like NatWest or Santander? If a bank issued your card, then the bank is your credit card issuer.
- Do you have a credit card from a store like John Lewis? Look to see who the partner bank is, because they issue the card. For example, John Lewis partnership cards are provided by HSBC, so HSBC is actually the issuer and owns your card.
- Do you have your card agreement handy? You’ll find details of the card issuer in the contract.
Does it matter who issued your card? Yes, and here’s why.
- If you have a balance transfer credit card, you can’t normally transfer the balance to a new card from the same bank.
- Some banks only offer people one credit card from their range at a time. So, if you need a second card, you’ll probably need to find one issued by a different lender.
How much do credit card issuers charge?
Well, there’s no one answer to this question, because card interest rates vary so much! How much you pay to use your card depends on a whole range of factors, including your:
- Credit score
- Outstanding balance
- Credit limit
- Repayment history
Some cards come with an annual fee, too, so bear this in mind when you’re shopping for a card.
3 tips for finding the lowest credit card issuer fees:
Want to keep your credit card issuer fees as low as possible? Here are three key tips:
- Shop around for a card offering a competitive interest rate. Don’t just apply for the first card you find.
- Pay your bill on time. Otherwise, you’ll probably face late payment fees.
- Keep the interest down by paying off your outstanding balance in full each month. Or, at least pay down as much as you can.
In summary, your credit card issuer is simply the lender that offers you the card and sets up the credit agreement. It’s important to know who the issuer is because you might find it hard to get more than one credit card with the same issuing bank. What’s more, it’s usually not possible to make balance transfers on cards provided by the same issuer.
For more information on picking a credit card issuer, check out our list of top-rated credit cards in the UK.