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You only get discover & Amex cards from those companies whereas Visa & MasterCard are networks that other people can “buy into”, ie your bank card (or credit card offered through a bank).

IMO not super relevant to topic of competition, there’s 4 networks, the fact that two of them are structured differently doesn’t really have impacts on sellers & customers (other than that the two open networks are significant larger, visa & MasterCard)

This isn't quite true, I have a BVAA credit card that uses the AMEX payment network and I used to have an FIA Card Services credit card that used the AMEX payment network (the old Fidelity credit card)

You’re right, it’s weird, American Express has literature where they talk about being a closed loop network and apply that definition. Maybe it’s more appropriate to just say that visa and MasterCard don’t directly offer credit cards.

There are starting to be a lot of Amex network cards are offered through other banks, with everything from Wells Fargo to Credit One (the first is one of the largest in the country, and the second is a basically a scam).

Discover also does this, although there are less available. Here is an example through Comenity in partnership with True Value: https://d.comenity.net/truevaluediscover/pub/Home.xhtml They used to do something similar for a card with Wal-Mart.

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