Wednesday, May 29, 2024

How do Credit Card Companies Make Money

How do Credit Card Companies Make Money

Earning profit is one of the sole purposes that all organizations or customers look for since nobody works for free or pays for free.

Being a customer, you will look for benefits that can be with you, whereas being an organisation you will watch yours. In short, everything is regulated around “benefits- the money”.

However, there are different types of companies and customers rolling up. How do they make money? We could not sum up every industry process in one. But for you today we have come up with the information on how credit card companies make money?\

Many of you might be rolling out with this question on how credit card companies earn. After all, nobody in this world works for free and so are the credit card companies.

The question mainly arises because they are offering rewards/bonus points and more. This makes customers think despite all these benefits, how do they make a profit?

You will get everything in detail here.

  1. Different types of credit card companies working 

There are different types of credit card companies offering different services on their credit cards.

You can get them issued either online or from a bank directly. All you need is to submit your documents and you will receive the card within 10-15 business days.

For you, issuing a credit card might seem to be a simpler process, but to its backend, there are many steps or phases that companies look for.

So other than the merchant and card holder there are three main players in the credit card issuance.

1.1 Credit card issuers

A credit card represents an easier way for individuals to make payments after a purchase. Cardholders giving you a credit line. Now at this point whenever you make a purchase then the issuing bank pays the merchant directly.

Next, when you pay your bill (that you have spent) it reaches the issuer to settle down your payment.

But in another case, if you have a co-branded retail credit card (that means a store credit card) then your account is managed through the retailer’s website.

1.2 Networks of credit card

It might look simple at the time you make a purchase or settle your payment through a credit card. But there is a line available in between to complete the process.

Initially, here the merchant needs to contact the bank to get approval of the transaction. Later on, the bank will send the funds to the merchant account. This process will cover all of your entire purchase.

However, all of this communication is not connected directly between the merchant and your bank. But it all goes to the credit card network. This way the entire line is completed.

1.3 Credit card processor

The credit card process flows between the merchant and the network. In turn, this helps merchants with a few of the advantages.

  • Security- Talking about your security then credit card processors are considered to be first-line protection. This indicates that the merchant will not be responsible for encryption towards your payment. Here, processors deal with all of these steps.
  • Equipment- there is a terminal where you tab/insert your card. Hence, depending upon their contract, merchants may even get the equipment for free.
  • Bookkeeping- many processors will enable merchants to access the accounting dashboard. This in turn help to make the overall transaction easier and turns out to be a prominent choice for small business owners.

But unlike all of the above information, our sole purpose here is to help you gain information on how credit card companies make money.

We eventually wanted you to first determine the overall process of how credit card companies work. This in turn will help you to get the entire flow smoothly and without skipping any information.

So, let us dive into how these companies make money.

  • Ways through which credit card companies make money

You might be thinking whenever you purchase your credit card then your companies do make a profit. But do you think so, you are the only sole step to help these companies make money.

Well, if you are into such a dilemma then you need to wake up.

There are many other ways through which credit card companies make money and gain profit on each credit card access with cardholder and merchants

In case of cardholders

Annual charges are the main source from where credit card companies earn money. We all know the fact that the fees are not small, even a minimum fee starts from 500+ taxes. But the cases can differ depending from bank to bank (not all banks have the same fees).

But almost all of the banks offer a rewards point system that can waive the annual charges. In that case, customers can buy something with the help of their rewards points to make the first-year fee waiver.

For customers, you can look to avoid paying yearly fees by adopting a card that has no fees. Many top banks do not charge any fees and let you enjoy credit card benefits.

So, this is one of the approaches through which credit card companies earn profits. However, sometimes it becomes difficult to find such a card where fees are not applicable. But we will here recommend making a wise decision because spending too much on annual fees is not a good decision.

  • Interest fee

For most companies, the other source that comes is interest fees. We all know the fact that a credit card has tons of charges applicable to it. Sometimes you might not know and charges are being deducted directly.

However, an interest fee is one type of fee that is charged by the issuer when you carry a balance (on your card past your due date).

Interest fees are charged as per the percentage of your credit balance. Initially, the percentage will depend on your credit card or annual percentage rate.

But for customers, there are ways to avoid interest fee charges- the first is to pay your balance on time. All credit card companies though give an initial grace period of 30 days to which the amount can be paid. If you cross that limit then you will have to pay an extra fee.

On the other hand, you can take charge of special interest rate offers. Many credit card companies allow holders with special offers at zero interest rates. So this is one of the other options to be away from unwanted charges.

Anonymous Reloadable Prepaid Cards

  • Fees on transactions

One of the other factors that come along with credit cards is transaction fees. This is another type of mode available through which credit card companies make money.

Let us help you to explain with the help of an example. Like if you want to transfer a balance then you will have to pay a fee for it.

Also, many credit card companies apply foreign transaction fees (at the time when you purchase from another country).

  • Penalties 

We all know that even small default credit card companies or even others can cost you higher. No doubt they give customers the grace period but when it comes to penalties, they have a decent amount to cut.

Yet this is one of the other major sources for credit card companies to make money. However, this starts right from the opening of your account. If you breach any of the terms then you will be liable to pay a penalty to it.

On the other hand, if you have a due bill, late fees applicable or some other transactions. For each one of them, you will have to pay a penalty fee for it.

So it is better to avoid such types of transactions so that you ensure that you are not being overcharged.

Since no one wants to get into penalties and so is the case with credit cards. For some this seems to be unwanted payment and this is for sure- as per the customer’s point of view.

Always try to be ahead in your payment, purchase and more.

  • In case of merchants

There are different ways through which these credit card companies take charges and get paid. One of those we have mentioned you is from a cardholder, now the next you must watch is on behalf of merchants.

  • Interchange fees

Most credit card holders do not know about the fact that every time you use your card, your issuer charges the merchant a desired fee. This is what we call interchange fees.

But remember fees are charged as per the transaction made which typically ranges from 1 to 3% of the amount.

Such fees typically maintained the cost of maintaining the credit card account. Here the typical maintenance includes the fraud and security protection plan. As long as you make a purchase your issuer will be able to receive an amount of fees (with the help of the purchase you make).

  • Assessment fees

Both cardholder and interchange fees combine the assessment fees. But what’s that and how? Let us explain you here more closely.

There is a payment network that enables the charges of the merchant (which is the flat rate assessment fees). This is every time a cardholder makes a payment within the network. Hence such fees go to the covering cost.

Although assessment fees are usually a small percentage of the transaction amount (this can be nearly 0.13%-0.15%). This even varies on the specific payment network.

  • Processor fees

Last is the processor fees through which credit card companies make money. This type of fee is charged entirely based on the contract made available. however, merchants will pay a per transaction fee (that includes the interchange and assessment fees).

On the other hand, processors will also charge various fees to easily cover their cost. However, the case where there are different types of fees applicable and hence one of those is processor fees.

How much credit card companies make per transaction?

You will be shocked to know that credit card companies make millions. This is for sure by covering all of the above ways. As per the report it was stated that with an average rate, they make around $120 billion with just interest fees.

However, as per a report of 2022 here is the complete list of companies making money with credit cards.

  • Chase: $154.8 billion
  • Citibank: $101 billion
  • Discover: $15.2 billion
  • American Express: $50.7 billion 
  • Bank of America: $92.4 billion
  • Capital One: $34.2 billion

It is hard to believe sometimes but this is true. Majorly as a cardholder sometimes we do not realize how much we are paying apart from the real purchase amount.

So, it is advisable to keep an eye on every transaction you make and wisely use your card to avoid any extra payment. In turn, that won’t allow companies to make much money, after all it is your money that they are making. After all they make millions and this is what we are not aware of.


Many types of ways are available for credit card companies to earn money. We have mentioned all of those. No doubt, with all of the above steps they make bulk money. Yet it is cardholders who need to take care so that they are not charged much. 

Because here companies charge right from both merchants and customers. But out of all of those methods, interest fees are the major source. For cardholders, if you do not want to spend more on a penalty then you must ensure to take every step of yours while using the card or make a purchase. Do not allow these companies to make millions because being a customer it’s your money with whom they are growing.

However, there are different types of companies that can issue credit cards to you. You can choose as per your requirement and ensure that you make your transaction smooth and easy. 

In this manner, you will not be charged more and will help you to take advantage. 


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