A financial institution that issues credit cards. Most of the time a credit card's issuer (e.g. Bank of America or Capital One) will be different from the network it is on (i.e. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover). The two exceptions are American Express and Discover, which are networks that began issuing their own cards directly.
While the network your credit card is on is important given that it dictates where it can be used, its issuer is less of a concern. Consumers should ideally compare credit cards across all credit card companies in order to find the best possible rates, fees, and rewards because such terms will impact one's wallet far more than customer service, which is where issuer-specific differences manifest themselves most often.
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