If you haven’t read our article on Visa and Mastercard, here is a quick introduction to how these cards work. Firstly, four main credit cards are used in the Western world today: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. These four “Card Networks” issue more than 99% of all the credit and debit cards in everyday use today.

The card networks are separate from the banks, so each bank has a contract with a card network that permits them to issue their cards. Banks will usually choose to give you a VISA or Mastercard, and as they issued the card, you should contact the bank if you have a problem – not VISA or Mastercard.

American Express and Discover work pretty differently – they not only have a card network of their own, but they also issue cards directly to consumers as well. You would imagine that this would make these cards cheaper to operate because of the integration of the two halves of the business, but things don’t seem to have worked out that way.

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