When looking for a credit card, you would find multiple options from a number of banks. You would like to go for a well-known bank and for a card that offers multiple rewards and benefits. The credit card network is the last thing that you would pay attention to. However, basic knowledge of the card network would be helpful for you in future. So, let us understand how a card network differs from the card issuer along with all the payment networks available in India.
Credit Card Issuer vs. Credit Card Network
A credit card issuer is the bank or NBFC that issues you the credit card. HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, SBI Card are a few examples of credit card issuers in India. On the other hand, credit card networks act as the bridge between the card issuers and the merchants. The major credit card networks in India are Visa and Mastercard; these cover the major marketplace. Other players are Discover, American Express and RuPay. While credit card issuers back the cards financially, the networks act as the technical backbone of the cards and payment system.
|What Credit Card Issuers Do||What Card Networks Do|
For the services they provide, card networks also charge interchange fee from the retailers. This fee varies from network to network and may also vary for different retailers.
Card payment networks play a major role in processing the transactions. With the use of technology, they have made transactions quick and easy for the customers.
Credit Card Payment Processing
Thanks to technology, we do not even notice that such a complex process is going on in the background as it gets completed within seconds. Also, the networks ensure that the customer’s data is transmitted in a secure manner with the use of PIN or OTP.
Read More: How Credit Card Transaction Processing Works
Credit Card Networks in India
As mentioned above, there are five payment networks current active in India- Visa, Mastercard, RuPay, American Express and Discover. Let us learn about these card networks in some detail.
Visa is the most dominant card payment network around the world. You can find credit cards and debit cards branded with Visa. However, Visa does not issue cards on its own nor does it define the fees and terms and conditions on the cards. It only facilitates electronic fund transfer made using the cards. But it can offer certain benefits such as concierge and lounge access.
Visa-branded credit cards can be availed in four variants:
- Visa Classic
- Visa Gold
- Visa Platinum
- Visa Signature
- Visa Infinite
Click here to learn more about Visa Credit Cards.
Mastercard is another payment network covering around 50% of the market, excluding China. It offers wide acceptance across the globe covering more countries than Visa. Mastercard, like Visa, does not issue credit cards on its own and only processes the payments between banks and retailers thus acting as a bridge between the two. Mastercard-branded credit cards would also offer certain benefits including local and global experiences, lounge access, contactless payments and more.
Mastercard credit cards can be availed in three variants:
- Standard Credit Cards
- Platinum Mastercard
- World Mastercard
Click here to learn more about Mastercard Credit Cards.
Launched by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), RuPay is the Indian card payment network. It facilitates electronic payment at domestic level across all banks and financial institutions. RuPay has also tied up with Discover to extend its services and acceptance at international level. RuPay-branded credit cards also come with various deals across shopping, travel and retail purchases.
RuPay offers credit card services through the following variants:
- RuPay Select
- RuPay Platinum
- RuPay Classic
Suggested Read: Best RuPay Credit Cards in India
Unlike the above three, American Express is a network as well as a card issuer. It offers credit cards and charge cards in India and also provides payment network solutions to other banks. For example, ICICI Bank launches credit cards powered by American Express. There are multiple benefits that Amex-branded credit cards would provide ranging from lounge access to dining and entertainment.
Some popular American Express credit cards in India are:
- American Express Platinum Reserve Credit Card
- American Express Membership Rewards Credit Card
- American Express Platinum Travel Credit Card
Discover is not just a payment channel; it owns and operates Discover Bank (not operational in India). Discover offers the card payment services through Pulse Networks and Diners Club International. In India, you can find Discover-branded cards through the collaboration of HDFC Bank and Diners Club International. Some popular Diners Club credit cards in India are:
- HDFC Bank Diners Club Premium Credit Card
- HDFC Bank Diners Club Black Credit Card
- HDFC Bank Diners Clubmiles Credit Card
- HDFC Bank Diners Club Rewardz Credit Card
Except RuPay, all other payment networks operating in India have their headquarters in foreign countries. No matter wherever you go, the global acceptance feature of the credit cards will let you make good use of it. However, if you are visiting an offbeat destination, you should check whether the card is acceptable in the area. You can also make good use of the benefits that network-branded cards offer.