Of course, Visa and Mastercard are by far the two most popular card networks in the world, but this doesn’t mean they’re the only ones. Other network credit cards can be just as useful and convenient, and they can bring many nice rewards and benefits to the responsible cardholder.
As you know, when choosing the right credit card for you, card networks shouldn’t be your primary concern. What you should focus on are card issuers, since they’re the ones who get to determine whether your credit card application will be approved or not, and the ones who set the credit card terms and conditions. Card networks aren’t as important to the average cardholder.
Still, other network cards can bring many advantages and disadvantages, and whether they’re the right choice for you depends on your lifestyle. So, let’s take a closer look at these other networks and see what they have to offer.
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An Overview of Other Credit Card Networks
Seeing how the majority of cardholders use Visa or Mastercard credit cards, it seems that these two card networks hold the monopoly over credit cards. While choosing either one of them can bring you many benefits, there are other card networks that you can rely on in case you cannot get or simply don’t want to get a Visa or Mastercard.
The two biggest competitors to Visa and Mastercard are American Express and Discover. American Express is a well-regarded company that’s been in the business for a while and is known for offering some of the most affordable credit cards. Discover offers excellent no annual fee credit cards and is becoming more and more popular among US consumers.
It’s important to note here that American Express and Discover act both as card networks and card issuers. This means that they’re responsible for facilitating the transaction between you and the merchant, deciding where their cards can be used, and for setting the terms, conditions, rates, and fees for your credit card.
Some of the best other network credit cards also include Fingerhut Credit Account which offers instant decision, Unique Platinum which can be a good choice for those with poor credit, Horizon Gold – another one for poor credit, Group One Freedom Platinum Card – great as a shopping credit, and many others.
What Are Benefits of Using Other Network Cards
There are many reasons why you might want to choose a card from other networks besides Visa or MasterCard. One of them might just be convenience. If you already have an account at a bank that offers other networks credit cards, it could be easier applying for a credit card there. If you’ve been a client of the said bank for a while, you might even get loyalty offers which can include higher rewards and bonuses, and lower APR rates and fees.
Besides, it’s better for your credit score that you avoid opening and closing credit accounts frequently. When you close a credit account, your account age will go down, and your credit utilization will go up, resulting in a lower credit score. When you open a new account, the issuer will do a full credit check which leaves a trace on your credit report, again damaging your score.
The best reason for choosing other networks credit cards, however, is that you might get better credit card features. Shopping cards, for example, can offer you excellent discounts. Other networks credit cards can sometimes be more suitable for those with poor credit, as they tend to have fewer requirements, and you’ll even be able to get instant decision offers with poor credit.
What Are Drawbacks of Using Other Network Card Offers
Of course, every credit card comes with certain pros and cons. When compared to American Express, Visa, Discover or Mastercard, other network credit cards have some distinct drawbacks.
The first is availability. Visa, for example, is the world’s most popular card network and is accepted in over 170 countries. Mastercard is accepted in 210 countries. Thus Discover and American Express cards are accepted in about 100 countries. Other networks’ credit cards do not have such a wide reach, and some might be accepted only in the US, while others can sometimes be accepted only at specific stores in the US.
Another drawback could be the rates and fees, especially if you’re applying for other network credit cards with poor credit. Other network credit cards often have good introductory rates and fees which end up being much higher once the introductory period is over.