Credit Card Network vs Issuer: What Is the Difference?

While credit card networks and card issuers both play a role when you use your credit card to make a purchase, they do different things. Credit card networks facilitate transactions between merchants and credit card issuers. Meanwhile, credit card issuers are the ones that provide credit cards to consumers and pay for transactions on the cardholder’s behalf when they use their card.

Where it can get confusing is that some credit card networks are also card issuers. To get a better understanding, keep reading for a closer look at the differences between a credit card network vs. issuer.

What Is a Credit Card Network?

Credit card networks are the party that creates a digital infrastructure that makes it possible for merchants to facilitate transactions between merchants and the credit card issuers — meaning they’re key to how credit cards work. In order to facilitate these transactions, the credit card networks charge the merchants an interchange fee, also known as a swipe fee.

Here’s an example of how this works: Let’s say someone walks into a clothing store and uses their credit card to buy a pair of pants. They swipe or tap their credit card to make the purchase. At this point, the store’s payment system will send the details of this transaction to the cardholder’s credit card network, which then relays the information to the credit card issuer. The credit card issuer decides whether or not to approve the transaction. Finally, the clothing store is alerted as to whether or not the transition was approved.

Essentially, credit card networks make it possible for businesses to accept credit cards as a form of payment, making them integral to what a credit card is. Credit card networks are also responsible for determining where certain credit cards are accepted, as not every merchant may accept all networks.

The Four Major Card Networks

The four major credit card networks that consumers are most likely to come across are:

•   American Express

•   Discover

•   Mastercard

•   Visa

All of these credit card networks have created their own digital infrastructure to facilitate transactions between credit card issuers and merchants. These four credit card networks are so commonly used that generally anywhere in the U.S. it’s possible to find a business that accepts one or more of the payment methods supported by these merchants. When traveling abroad, it’s more common to come across Visa and Mastercard networks.

Two of these popular payment networks — American Express and Discover — are also credit card issuers. However, their offerings as a credit card network are separate from their credit card offerings as an issuer.

Does It Matter Which Card Network You Use?

Which credit card network someone can use depends on the type of credit card they have and whether the credit card network that supports that card is available through the merchant where they want to make a purchase. Most merchants in the U.S. work with all of the major networks who support the most popular credit cards, so it shouldn’t matter too much which credit card network you have when shopping domestically. When traveling abroad, however, it’s important to have cash on hand in case the credit card network options are more limited.

Merchants are the ones who are more likely to be affected by the credit card networks that they use. This is due to the fact that credit card networks determine how much the merchant will pay in fees in order to use their processing system.

Recommended: Charge Cards Advantages and Disadvantages

What Are Credit Card Issuers?

Credit card issuers are the financial institutions that create and manage credit cards. They’re responsible for approving applicants, determining cardholder rewards and fees, and setting credit limits and the APR on a credit card.

Essentially, credit card issuers manage the entire experience of using a credit card. Cardholders work with their credit card issuer when they need to get a new card after losing one, when they have to make their credit card minimum payment, or when they want to check their current card balance.

Credit card issuers can be banks, credit unions, fintech companies, or other types of financial institutions. Some of the biggest credit card issuers in the U.S. are:

•   American Express

•   Bank of America

•   Barclays

•   Capital One

•   Chase

•   Citi

•   Discover

•   Synchrony Bank

•   U.S. Bank

•   Wells Fargo

Credit Card Network vs Issuer: What Is the Difference?

Credit card issuers and credit card payment networks are easy to confuse. The main difference is that credit card networks facilitate payments between merchants and credit card issuers whereas credit card issuers create and manage credit cards for consumers. If you have an issue with your credit card — like in the instance you want to dispute a credit card charge or request a credit card chargeback — it’s the issuer you’d go to.

These are the main differences to be aware of when it comes to credit card networks vs. issuers:

Credit Card Issuer Credit Card Payment Network

•   Creates credit cards

•   Manages credit cards

•   Accepts or declines applicants

•   Sets credit card fees

•   Determines interest rates and credit limits

•   Creates rewards offerings

•   Approves and declines transactions

•   Processes transactions between credit card companies and merchants

•   Creates the digital infrastructure that facilitates these transactions

•   Charges an interchange fee to merchants

•   Determines which credit cards can be used at which merchants

How Credit Card Networks and Issuers Work Together

Credit card networks and issuers need each other to function. Without a credit card network, consumers wouldn’t be able to use their card to shop with any merchants, and the credit card issuer’s product would go unused. Credit card networks create the infrastructure that allows merchants to accept credit cards as payment.

However, it’s up to the credit card issuers to approve or decline the transaction. The credit card issuer is also the one responsible for getting credit cards into consumers’ hands when they’re eligible and old enough to get a credit card, thus creating a need for the credit card networks’ services.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Get a New SoFi Credit Card Online and Earn 2% Cash Back

Credit cards can be a useful financial tool, but it’s important to understand their ins and outs before swiping — including the difference between a credit card network vs. card issuer. Both are critical to credit card transactions, with the credit card network facilitating the transaction between the issuer and the merchant, and the credit card network approving or denying the transaction.

While the major credit card networks are available at most merchants in the U.S., this may not be the case abroad, which is why it’s important to be aware of when choosing a credit card. This among many other considerations, of course, such as searching for a good APR for a credit card and assessing the fees involved.

If you’re on the search for a new card, consider applying for a credit card with SoFi. SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back when redeemed for a statement credit.1

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What is a credit card network?

A credit card network is the party that creates the necessary infrastructure to process transactions between a credit card issuer and a merchant. Whenever someone makes a purchase with a credit card, it is processed by a credit card network. In return for processing the transaction, the merchant pays the credit card network an interchange fee, which is how the credit card networks make money.

How do I know my credit card issuer?

To find out a credit card’s issuer, simply look at your credit card. There will be a string of numbers on the credit card, and the first six to eight digits represent the Bank Identification Number (BIN) or the Issuer Identification Number (IIN). The Issuer identification number identifies who the credit card issuer is.

Who is the largest credit card issuer?

The four largest credit card networks are American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa. Most merchants in the U.S. work with all four credit card networks. When traveling abroad, it’s more common to come across Visa and Mastercard networks.

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Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

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How to Check Your Credit Card Balance: A Step-By-Step Guide

It’s easy to swipe a credit card and lose track of exactly how much you’re spending. That’s why it’s critical to check your credit card balance on a regular basis. By checking your credit card balance, you’ll know how much you owe so you can make payments or adjust your spending accordingly.

As for how to check a credit card balance, you can do so online, over the phone, or on the monthly statement that comes in the mail. Keep reading to learn more about how to check a balance on a credit card and why your credit card balance matters.

What Is a Credit Card Balance?

There are two different types of balances consumers will come across when it comes to their credit cards: current balances and statement balances.

The statement balance is the total balance owed at the end of the billing cycle. If someone wants to avoid paying interest, they need to pay off their statement balance in full each month. The current balance, on the other hand, is the total amount owed plus any fees, charges, credits, and payments that have been added to the account since the billing cycle ended. Given how credit cards work, it’s not necessary to pay the entire current balance to avoid interest charges.

In addition to their current balance and statement balance, each month the cardholder will also be told what their credit card minimum payment is. This is the lowest amount of their balance that they can pay in order to remain in good standing with their credit card issuer. They’ll need to pay interest on the remaining unpaid balance.

Recommended: Charge Cards Advantages and Disadvantages

Why Is It Important to Know Your Balance?

A credit card balance represents the total amount owed to the credit card issuer. If the cardholder wants to avoid paying interest on their remaining balance, they’ll need to pay off their credit card balance in full each month. So, for budgeting purposes, it’s helpful to know what that balance is.

A credit card balance also can indicate how high or low someone’s credit utilization ratio is. This ratio compares how much credit someone is using to how much credit they have available based on their credit card limits. It’s generally advised to keep your credit utilization ratio under 30% — but the lower, the better. Paying off a credit card balance in full each month can also help keep credit utilization low.

Additionally, checking your credit card balance each month can allow you to spot any unusual or potentially fraudulent charges on your credit card. If anything is amiss, you could then quickly contact your issuer and dispute the credit card charge. This could result in a credit card chargeback, allowing you to get the money back.

Reviewing a credit card statement can also help consumers identify where to cut back their spending so they can save more or afford to pay down more credit card debt.

How to Check a Credit Card Balance

Even if you’re confident you can pay off your balance in full each month, it’s smart to stay on top of your credit card balance for the reasons mentioned above. Read on to learn how to check the balance on your credit card.

Log In to the Mobile App or Go Online

Thanks to mobile banking and credit card apps, it only takes a few seconds to check a credit card balance from a smartphone. These mobile apps are helpful for checking a credit card balance on the go. It’s also possible for consumers to check their credit card balances by logging onto their online accounts from a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

Call the Card Issuer

It’s also possible to call the credit card issuer directly to confirm what your current credit card balance is. The phone number to call is printed on the credit card and also listed on the credit card issuer’s website. Keep in mind your issuer may provide different numbers to call depending on your reason for calling.

Send a Text to Your Bank

Don’t love making phone calls? Some banks and credit card issuers also allow account holders to text them to check their account balance, which is a speedy and convenient way to get an update.

Check Paper Statements

Each month, the account holder will receive a paper credit card statement through the mail or over email. The Account Summary section of the statement will outline what the statement balance on the credit card as well as the following details, which are given what a credit card is:

•   Payments and credits

•   New purchases

•   Balance transfers

•   Cash advances

•   Past due amount

•   Fees charged

•   Interest charged

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Consider the SoFi Credit Card

As you can see, making a point to regularly check your credit card balance is smart for a number of reasons. In addition to helping you stay on top of your spending and how much you owe, it can also help you to monitor your credit utilization and check charges for any fraudulent activity. Checking your credit card balance is easy to do online, over the phone, via text, or on your credit card statement.

Feeling on top of your credit card balances and looking for a new credit card? The SoFi Credit Card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Plus, SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back when redeemed for a statement credit.1 Apply for a credit card online today with SoFi.

Check out everything the SoFi credit card has to offer.


Can you transfer a balance to a new credit card?

It’s possible to transfer a balance from one credit card to a new one by using a balance transfer credit card. Typically, balance transfer cards come with a low or 0% introductory APR, which makes it possible to pay down debt without spending too much on interest for a temporary period of time. Keep in mind that balance transfer fees will typically apply.

What is a credit card balance refund?

When someone pays off their credit card balance before getting a refund for a purchase they made, that results in what is known as a negative credit card balance. To get that money back, you can either request a refund or wait for the funds to get applied to future credit card balance.

What happens if I overpay my credit card balance?

If someone overpays their credit card balance for whatever reason, they can either have that balance applied to a future purchase or they can request a credit card balance refund.

What does a negative balance on a credit card mean?

Having a negative credit card balance means that someone has a credit card balance that is below $0. For example, if someone pays off their credit card balance and then requests a refund from a merchant for $250, they would end up with a negative balance of $250. The credit card issuer would then owe that money to the account holder.

What happens if you cancel a credit card with a negative balance?

If someone chooses to close a credit card that has a negative balance, they need to request a refund before they close their account as they won’t be able to apply that negative balance to a future bill. Some credit card issuers will issue this refund automatically, but it’s best to confirm the refund is happening before closing an account.

Photo credit: iStock/milan2099

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’swebsite .
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
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TradeBench Review – Free Trading Journal to Improve Your Investing

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Dig Deeper

Additional Resources

TradeBench is a totally free online trading journal and risk management tool. All features are unlocked for all users and there are no paid plans. 

How does TradeBench get away with offering its services for free? By working with sponsors and asking its users to click an ad from time to time — a small price to pay for a tool that has the potential to make you a more successful trader. 

Wondering if TradeBench is right for you? Read on to learn about its features and benefits.

Key Features of TradeBench

TradeBench is marketed as a trading journal, which is a great tool in its own right. 

TradeBench offers far more than simple journaling functionality though. These are the most important features of its platform.

Automatic Trading Journal

The most profitable traders generally keep a trading journal and look back on it regularly in an effort to find pieces of their strategies that can be improved upon.  But keeping a journal manually can be a cumbersome task, especially for beginners. 

TradeBench’s automatic trading journal helps solve this problem. 

The platform connects to your brokerage account, automatically journalling trade data every time a trade is closed. The service captures data like entry price, exit price, profit, and setup — giving you the ability to review and learn from your recent trading activity. 

TradeBench’s trade journal feature allows you to generate reports with customizable parameters. That makes it easy to pinpoint the data you’re looking for and focus on the areas of your trading strategy that could use improvement. TradeBench lays out data in user-friendly, color-coded graphs that make it easier to understand what you’re looking at. 

Supported Assets

TradeBench supports stocks, forex, and cryptocurrency.

It also supports contracts for differences (CFDs). A CFD buyer agrees to pay the seller the difference between the current value of an asset and the value of the asset upon expiration. If the value of the asset falls, the seller pays the difference to the buyer. 

Risk & Money Management

Trading in financial markets is risky business, so traders must take active steps to mitigate the risk of loss. As a TradeBench user, you can input your risk parameters into the platform and use the proprietary risk management tools to determine:

  • Maximum Risk Exposure. The platform can outline entry points and exit points so that you understand the maximum risk exposure you have with each trade. 
  • Position Sizing. TradeBench generates statistics-driven pointers on position sizing relevant to your risk tolerance and portfolio size for each trade. 
  • Diversification Needs. Finally, TradeBench provides tools for better diversification while actively trading. 

Trade Planning

Planning is important in any process, especially when it comes to trading in financial markets. 

Fortunately for its users, TradeBench makes trade planning a breeze. The platform uses algorithms to produce a trade plan summary that outlines the potential profit or loss and risk-to-reward ratios to help you better understand where your entry points and exit points should be. 

TradeBench also provides trade planning checklists that automatically include several areas of interest you need to pay attention to when making a trade. 

You can customize these checklists to better fit your trading strategy and use them as market screeners. For example, if you’re only interested in stocks trading with a minimum volume and a maximum price, you can type those parameters into the checklist and search the market for opportunities that meet them.  

Open Trades Dashboard

TradeBench isn’t just for tracking data from previous trades and planning future trades. The platform can also track your open trades in real-time so that you can see how your portfolio is doing and make changes as necessary. 

The Open Trades Dashboard features a “what if scenario” tool as well. This tool creates calculations based on open trades and potential exit points to help you determine when the best time to exit your position might be. 

No matter if you’re trading long or short or have a single or multiple entries, the Open Trades Dashboard at TradeBench has the tools and functionality you need to improve your live trading activities. 

Potential Trade Comparison Tools

As you trade, there will be times when you find yourself stuck at a fork in the road between two or more trades, unsure of which trade to execute for the best results. 

For example, you might think ABC stock will break out to the upside and quickly gain value. However, if it fails to break out of its trading range, you know that it could fall dramatically. TradeBench has a tool that makes it a breeze to compare these options before you enter trades. 

TradeBench outlines the data from the trade comparisons in a color-coded table. That makes it easy to quickly spot the trades that are likely to be the biggest winners and losers while avoiding more detailed technical analysis on trades likely to be duds. 

Trading Simulator

Trading simulators are beneficial to beginners and experts alike, and TradeBench comes with a trading simulator that’s like nothing else on the market. Once you connect the TradeBench simulator to your brokerage, it mimics the features, available assets, and available trade types you’ll find in the brokerage’s live trading environment. 

If you’re a beginner, you can use TradeBench’s simulator to ensure that you understand the trading process and have a strategy that works before risking your hard-earned money on live trades. If you’re an expert, you can use the simulator to test new strategies and ideas with less real-world risk. 

P&L Charts

TradeBench makes it easy to quickly gauge your market performance with profit and loss (P&L) charts. The charts outline your entry cost, your exit price, and the profit or loss generated. For each trade, it shows this information in dollar amounts and in percentages.

Is TradeBench a Scam?

There’s quite a bit of chatter online about a potential TradeBench scam. We dug into the scam and found that TradeBench, the company that owns the website, is a legitimate service that’s geared towards helping beginners and experts alike become more successful in financial markets for free. 

However, there was a website found at TradeBench.Digital that was scamming traders out of their hard-earned money. Thankfully, TradeBench.Digital doesn’t exist anymore, but the scam left a stain on the TradeBench brand that may wrongfully deter some users from this robust trading tool. 

Advantages of TradeBench

There are several advantages to taking advantage of the services offered by TradeBench. Some of the most significant perks to membership include:

  • Automatically Track Stock, Forex, CFD, and Crypto Trades. Stock traders, forex traders, and cryptocurrency traders can all benefit from using the TradeBench platform, unlike many other trade journaling services that generally focus their services on a smaller group of assets, especially for free users.  
  • Everything’s Free. You might be asked to click an advertiser’s link or read an email from time to time, but TradeBench will never ask for your credit card number. All features are free, and there are no paid plans on the platform. 
  • Risk Management Tools. Risk management is crucial to the trading process. Traders who don’t employ risk management strategies can end up with exorbitant losses. The risk and money management tools on TradeBench go above and beyond the norm, showing that the company has a keen interest in its users’ success. 
  • Interactive Charts. TradeBench offers a wide range of interactive charts and technical indicators to help you find the best trade setups.  
  • Track Open Trades. Market conditions can change rapidly, which makes tracking multiple open trades difficult. The platform’s Open Trade Dashboard makes tracking multiple positions a breeze with charts, graphs, and tools that help you plan profitable exits. 

Disadvantages of TradeBench

There aren’t many disadvantages to speak of when it comes to TradeBench. While some users may find it annoying to click an ad from time to time, the vast majority would likely rather click a few ads than shell out hard-earned cash for the service. 

  • Centered Around Trading. The only real drawback to the service is that it’s focused on trading, a high-risk process. Nonetheless, while the service is geared toward the active trader, long-term investors will also benefit greatly from some of the features available, especially the automated trading journal. 
  • Unrelated Scam Dinged TradeBench’s Reputation. For some time, TradeBench.Digital ran a scam called TradeBench. While is a legitimate service that had nothing to do with the scam, the fact that a scam shared a name with the company dinged its reputation. 

How TradeBench Stacks Up

One of TradeBench’s biggest competitors is TraderSync. Check out the table below to see how the two compare:

TradeBench TraderSync
Price TradeBench is always free for all features.  Pro. $29.95 per month Premium. $49.95 per month Elite. $79.95 per month13% discount when billed annually 
Risk Management & Trade Setup Tools Yes Yes
Trading Simulator Yes Yes
Share Trade Data Share your trading journal with a single person or group of people.  Share customized trading reports with your mentor or followers. 

Final Word

TradeBench is a phenomenal tool that gives traders an edge on the competition. Beginners and experts alike can use the automated trading journal, risk and money management tools, and trade planning and research tools to become more successful traders. 

While the TradeBench tool has the potential to increase your profitability, it’s not a silver bullet. It’s important to remember that trading is a short-term, speculative process that always comes with a higher level of risk than long-term investing based on well-researched fundamentals. 

If you haven’t tried your hand as a long-term investor and earned a strong understanding of the mechanics of the stock market, it’s best to avoid trading entirely until you have more experience under your belt. 

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Editorial Note:
The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Joshua Rodriguez has worked in the finance and investing industry for more than a decade. In 2012, he decided he was ready to break free from the 9 to 5 rat race. By 2013, he became his own boss and hasn’t looked back since. Today, Joshua enjoys sharing his experience and expertise with up and comers to help enrich the financial lives of the masses rather than fuel the ongoing economic divide. When he’s not writing, helping up and comers in the freelance industry, and making his own investments and wise financial decisions, Joshua enjoys spending time with his wife, son, daughter, and eight large breed dogs. See what Joshua is up to by following his Twitter or contact him through his website, CNA Finance.