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Most major credit cards—which include Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express—are issued by banks, credit unions or other financial institutions. Many credit cards attract customers by offering incentives such as airline miles, hotel room rentals, gift certificates to major retailers and cash back on purchases. These types of credit cards are generally referred to as rewards credit cards.

To generate customer loyalty, many national retailers issue branded versions of credit cards, with the store’s name emblazoned on the face of the cards. Although it’s typically easier for consumers to qualify for a store credit card than for a major credit card, store cards may only be used to make purchases from the issuing retailers, which may offer cardholders perks such as special discounts, promotional notices, or special sales. Some large retailers also offer co-branded major Visa or Mastercard credit cards that can be used anywhere, not just in retailer stores.

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