Which Card Types Are Used in Europe

Cristi Gheorghe

by Cristi Gheorghe

If you are looking to expand your business in Europe, then you will need to know which are the credit card types that your payment processor needs to support in order for you to be able to charge your clients' credit cards. Here is an outlook on the most used card types in Europe, that will help you understand the situation and act accordingly.

What Card Types Do Europeans Use?

Although there are a great number of credit and debit cards issuers all over the world (any bank or financial institution), there are only a few credit card types available, and they are based on the credit card association that the card was issued by.

That being said, some of the credit card types that you can find on the market are: Visa and Visa Electron, Mastercard and Maestro, AmericanExpress (Amex), Discover, UnionPay, Diner's Club, JCB, RuPay, etc.

When it comes to credit card payments in Europe - in 2017 the most used card types were: Visa (62%), Mastercard (34%), Amex (about 4%), Diner's Club (less than 1%) - based on this NilsonReport.


If we're to talk about their popularity in Europe - Mastercard and Visa cards are widely spread and the main reason for it is that they are the top options that European issuing banks offer to their clients when they want to obtain a new credit card or debit card.

The Amex and Diner's Club percentages are based on purchases made by people that used a credit card issued most likely by an US based financial institution.

Why Do European Payment Gateways Support only Visa and Mastercard?

As the European market is based mainly on Visa and Mastercard (over 95% of all card purchases), most of the European Payment Providers will support those types of cards for processing. 

Every type of card that is supported by a payment gateway implies costs and fees for both the gateway and its merchants, and in order to be able to offer the best rates to their customers most payment providers choose to support the card types that their merchants will process.

At Twispay, we are actively working with our customers to provide them the financial tools they need, and the portfolio of credit card types we support are surely enough to satisfy the needs of our current customers. Nonetheless, we're continuously on the look out for new integration opportunities, so the minute that they arise and start to make business sense, we'll be sure to be on board.

Why Doesn't My Payment Gateway Accept AmericanExpress Cards?

We'll discuss a bit the AmericanExpress case, as a large number of foreigners will look into using it when traveling to Europe, and US based businesses looking to expand in Europe will inquire about accepting Amex cards.

Firstly, AmericanExpress cards are mostly used on business trips (usually for business purposes) and they are not very popular on European online payments (the numbers are even less than the aforementioned 4% of all purchases). 

Secondly, many customers who have an American Express card already know that this is not a widely accepted type of card in Europe, and they also have a Visa or a Mastercard that they will use, so a merchant who accepts only the latter two will still be able to make the sell.

As a merchant you will need to make a thorough analysis on the benefits of accepting this type of cards, as they usually come with higher interchange fees and some setup fees also, and it might not be worth the effort of having it added to your portfolio.

 What Should I Know Before Choosing a European Payment Provider?

When looking to start a partnership with an European Payment Provider, you will need to look into the currencies they support for both processing and settlement.

You will also need to inquire about the fees that apply to your merchant's account and of course you will need to know the type of cards they support.

If you are searching for a payment gateway solution in Europe, you can definitely consider Twispay. As FinTech pioneers we design our products to perform optimally, we offer payment processing at low rates, and we enable you to accept Mastercard and Visa cards from all over the world.

Don't hesitate to contact one of our sales specialists that will be able to give you an overview tailored to your financial and technical needs. 

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Cristi Gheorghe Cristi Gheorghe