How Do Credit Card Companies Make Money: A Complete Guide

Dec 26, 2023 By Triston Martin

​Fees are how credit card issuers generate revenue. The primary source of income among the various fees is interested. The bank is permitted to impose interest on the amount lent when credit card customers don't pay off their balance at the end of the month. Although to a lesser level, other expenses, including annual and late fees, also contribute. Fees collected from merchants who accept card payments are another major source of revenue for credit card companies. Fees from businesses accepting card payments are another critical source of income for credit card firms. Let us how do credit card companies make money.

Revenue from Merchant Fees and Credit Card Interest

Credit card interest is the primary source of revenue for banks. Interest fees are applied to the account when a cardholder pays off only part of the balance in a given month. The APR (annual percentage rate) is divided by 365 to get the periodic rate. The average interest rate for interest-bearing credit card accounts in the US is 19.33%. Fees gathered from merchants are the second most significant source of income for credit card providers. A portion of each sale made by a merchant who takes credit cards goes to the bank that issued the cards. The interchange rate, which varies from card to card and retailer to retailer, is often referred to as this.

Credit Card Networks' Business Model

Fees charged for processing credit card transactions for a merchant are how do credit card companies make their money. These are distinct from the previously mentioned interchange costs. With each transaction, the card network—the business whose logo appears in the bottom right corner of a card—takes a much lower amount, known as the assessment fee. The charge is 0.14% of each Visa credit card transaction and 0.1375% of each Mastercard credit card transaction.


In exchange for the ability to borrow money, interest is usually paid when you have a balance on your credit card. Your rate of interest, which differs by the borrower and is decided by your creditworthiness, is calculated using your annual percentage rate (APR), which mixes fees and interest into a flat price to make you understand how much more the cards would cost you for a year. Credit card APRs can be relatively high, so paying off your balance each month is best to avoid these pricey fees.

Additional costs

This group comprises a variety of possible costs. If you don't pay your bill on time, the card issuer will assess a late fee first. Additionally, they could charge you for cash advances, balance transfers, foreign transactions for purchases made outside the United States, or over-limit penalties for exceeding your credit limit. If you manage your card wisely, you might never have to pay these fees. Fee amounts vary by issuer. This is the most innovative way on how much money do credit card companies make.

Payday Loan Costs

You will be charged this fee when you use your card to use an ATM to get cash. There usually is a minimum fee for withdrawals—fees for balance transfers. Using a credit card with a balance transfer is one strategy to manage your unpaid obligations. Most of your debt can be transferred to a different credit card with a cheaper interest rate, typically between three and five percent. You can pay off your bills more quickly as a result. Not all balance transfer cards have additional fees, but many do. Review the conditions of your contract to find out how much you're paying.

A Yearly Charge & Late Charges

The annual fee on most credit cards pays for the expense of your yearly use of the card. Late fees may apply to missed or late payments. To avoid this, you must settle your credit card debt by paying at least the minimum fee. In some circumstances, this fee may be waived. However, it depends on your card issuer. Your credit score is negatively affected by this activity.

How to Reduce the Costs of Credit Card Use

Cardholders provide a sizable portion of the revenue for credit card firms. It would help if you didn't let that stop you from using a credit card, though:

  • Savvy cardholders can avoid most credit card expenses.
  • Suppose you prepare ahead of time and stay within your budget. In that case, you can avoid various expenses, from interest to other charges. First, be sure to be aware of the annual charge for each of your credit cards. Then decide if it is worthwhile to pay the annual fee.
  • If you manage your card correctly, avoiding interest is easy: Pay off your debt each month. Make sure to use the credit card with the lowest interest rate if you must carry a load from month to month, and try to pay it off as quickly as you can.
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