Credit cards are a major part of the modern financial landscape in America, and across the world. Credit cards are usually revolving credit lines that are primarily accessed via a card with an account number. Credit cards are accepted as a valid form of payment at many, many retail stores, service providers and online retail outlets across the world. Credit cards are, in fact, the preferred method of payment for online transactions.
Credit cards are often issued by a particular bank, of which there are many. Some cards, depending on the issuing bank and the credit worthiness of the consumer, have higher rates than others. Some also have annual membership and/or account maintenance fees. Available credit limits also vary by bank and by consumer. Overall, the amount of credit you receive and the rate of interest paid are almost entirely determined by the credit score and credit history of the applicant. (see Typical APRs for more information on interest rates and fees)
While credit cards are issued by a particular funding bank, credit cards are also issued in conjunction with various processing entities. VISA is the most commonly used credit card processing company in the Unites States, followed by Mastercard. Other popular credit card processing companies are American Express and Discover. In addition to these general processing companies, many service providers and retail chains offer their own credit cards for use in purchasing products and service from their own companies. For example, a consumer may receive a credit card through JC Penney, a major department store, for use in purchasing goods from JC Penney. But since this is not a general credit card, and does not utilize a major processor (such as Mastercard or VISA), consumers cannot use a JC Penney credit account anywhere outside of JC Penney.
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