Since the first widely accepted plastic charge card was issued in 1958 by American Express, the use of credit cards has skyrocketed.
In fact, at the end February, more than 576 million credit cards were in circulation in the United States alone, with US consumers' revolving debt rising to $864.4 billion (98 percent of which is made up of credit card debt) as of January.
At these huge levels, it's no wonder credit card fraud is rampant and costs cardholders and issuers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. In fact, CNBC's American Greed investigates one credit card scam that took in $100 million alone.
So where does all this credit come from? Click ahead to see the world's top 10 credit card issuers.
By: Constance Parten
Posted: April 13, 2010
Sources: CreditCards.com and Nilson Report, December 2009 (through year-end 2009 and ranked by total worldwide outstandings)
Nilson Report, February 2010
Federal Reserve's G.19 report on consumer credit, March 2010