A credit card issuing company, such as a bank or credit union, enters into agreements with merchants for them to accept their credit cards. Merchants often advertise which cards they accept by displaying acceptance marks – generally derived from logos – or this may be communicated in signage in the establishment or in company material (e.g., a restaurant's menu may indicate which credit cards are accepted).
Merchants may also communicate this orally, as in "We take (brands X, Y, and Z)" or "We don't take credit cards". The credit card issuer issues a credit card to a customer at the time or after an account has been approved by the credit provider, which need not be the same entity as the card issuer.
The cardholders can then use it to make purchases at merchants accepting that card. When a purchase is made, the cardholder agrees to pay the card issuer. The cardholder indicates consent to pay by signing a receipt with a record of the card details and indicating the amount to be paid or by entering a personal identification number (PIN).