Is Discover card accepted everywhere?

Posted by CreditCardGuru

Q: Discover Card often runs commercials advertising that they offer 5% cash back on certain purchases each quarter. I am interested in this but am concerned about merchant acceptance. How does Discover Card’s merchant acceptance compare to Visa, MasterCard and American Express?

A: If you haven’t used Discover and aren’t very familiar with the company, you may be surprised to learn these facts about their credit cards:

  • Discover Card was launched in 1986
  • In 2015 Discover Card is accepted at well over 90 percent (i.e. virtually all) of stores/merchants in the United States that accept credit cards.
  • Even though they joined the credit card network game later than the other big three networks, Discover Card acceptance has gone nearly global. You can generally use your Discover card abroad, even though total card acceptance footprint may be a bit more limited compared to Visa, MasterCard and American Express, especially outside of North America (with a few notable Asian exceptions). If you’re traveling to certain locales, though, you may be in luck. For example, in China and Japan, Discover is widely accepted, thanks to its partnership with China Union Pay and Japan’s JCB. They’re acceptance covers North America, South America, much of Europe, Scandinavia and Russia. Much of Africa, the middle east and India is not within their global merchant network as of 2015, however.

So, you live in the United States, Discover card is accepted virtually everywhere (90 plus percent of merchants) so using it shouldn’t ever be a an issue. If you’re traveling a broad, check out Discover’s global acceptance map before you leave. During your travels, look for any of the following Discover partner icons when you shop:
Using Discover card internationally

If you see one of these logos you can rest assured your Discover card is welcome. Of course, there’s no telling exactly how many merchants in the countries mentioned on their coverage map accept Discover, so it can be a good insurance policy for the savvy traveler to have another form of payment as a backup in your wallet – either local currency or better yet a Visa, MasterCard or American Express card.

Here are some other interesting tidbits about Discover:

  • Unlike most issuers, Discover only uses American-based customer call centers.
  • Discover is considered to be the pioneer in offering no-annual-fee cards and rewards. They turned the industry upside down when they began offering them in 1986, first announced during a Superbowl ad that year.
  • There are approximately 64 million Discover Cards in circulation (50 million issued by Discover and another 14 million issued by third party banks)

Is Discover Card accepted everywhere? It’s certainly largely true within the United States. Abroad, acceptance is less than universal but you’ll still find merchants all over the world in almost every country that accept Discover Card. With no annual fee and high cash back, it deserves a spot in your wallet regardless of where you live or travel.
This post was written or last updated February 2, 2015

Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

20 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. K January 23, 2015 at 3:10PM

    “Is Discover Card accepted everywhere? It’s certainly largely true within the United States.”

    Um, NOT. No one takes Discover anymore because of the fees. We have a grandparent who still wants to use it everywhere (not surprisingly) and every time she comes to visit I have to call ten restaurants to see if someone will accept it. Accepted everywhere…LOL.

  2. Nat January 19, 2015 at 4:11PM

    I traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Discover is not accepted in local business. They prefer Visa, Mastercard and American Express everywhere. Discover is accepted in U.S. chain stores such as IHop, Denny’s and the like. However I went to two different Starbucks and one accepted Discover but the other did not, ugh!

    • Nat January 19, 2015 at 4:15PM

      One more thing….I tried using the ATM to get cash from my Discover card but was out of luck! Tried 3 different banks and several hotel atm’s…NOTHING!
      I too like my Discover card. Great rewards, great customer service, no annual fees, etc.

  3. TJ December 19, 2014 at 6:31PM

    I just tried to use my Discover card at Moe’s Southwest Grill and they do not accept Discover. The businesses that do not accept Discover are behind the times and need to catch up with the rest of us. I love my Discover card and have been a cardholder for 15+ years. I avoid businesses who do not accept Discover card because it makes me feel like the businesses who refuse to take it are not interested in me as a customer.

  4. Fredo May 30, 2014 at 6:59PM

    No. it’s not accepted everywhere. I just checked with the hotel I booked last week in Turkey and they don’t accept Discover Card. My bank changed our debit cards from VISA to Discover and they lied to me that Discover was accepted everywhere but it’s not. I’m changing banks too.

  5. Christian May 14, 2014 at 4:19PM

    Sooooo Does every ATM accept Discover or does it have to say that it accepts it?

  6. Jon March 19, 2014 at 4:17PM

    I have been looking into the discover and Citi Diamond cards for transfer balance reasons. But if I cannot use discover regularly, I don’t think it is worth putting it on my credit file. I’m not one that travels overseas, so I’m not worried about that issue. I do agree that it is embarrassing to have a load of merchandise, regardless of the amount, just to not make the purchase because that merchant does not accept discover. I just do not understand that if discover has been around for 25+ years; why are they not accepted like Visa and Mastercard? Hummmm!?!?!?!

  7. Steve March 6, 2014 at 8:10AM

    The person who wrote this is clearly bias towards discover and also an idiot. A quick search of the US Customs website clearly states customs duty is payable with only Visa or MasterCard.

  8. Ronnie B March 2, 2014 at 5:32PM

    I have had Discover for over 15 years now. Except for some Mom and Pop stores, every place I go accepts Discover. Even more than American Express anymore. I was in China 4 years ago and used it everywhere except the very small places, and they only took cash.

    I haven’t used my MasterCard in a year.

  9. Shannon February 11, 2014 at 2:02PM

    Just returned from Mexico, Discover was not accepted ANYWHERE! Also local body shop would not accept it either. Pretty bummed.

  10. Helen January 31, 2014 at 7:05PM

    I have used Discover almost exclusively in the past, then went to Visa because a few stores did not accept Discover. My Visa was compromised in the Target credit theft, so I am looking a Discover again since it is NOT accepted everywhere. Maybe it won’t be so attractive to thieves.

  11. СТО January 29, 2014 at 11:47AM

    I’ve learned some excellent stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting.

  12. Elaine OConnor July 26, 2013 at 1:23PM

    I just got a Discover It Credit Card a few days ago, I tried useing it at a local convience store across the street from me, but when the lady ran my card threw the machine it said it did not support the card. Now Im wondering if I try to use it at Walmart or price chopper if its going to say the same thing. How can I find out before I try to use the card if the store accepts it or not. Kinda makes you feel like a fool when it says they dont support the card.

    • MJ August 21, 2013 at 10:55AM


      It was the cashier’s fault for not telling you when you handed her the card that they didn’t accept Discover cards. Usually businesses have signage near the register that let’s you know what cards are accepted. Or you could be proactive and ask before you try to make a purchase with your Discover card.

    • ADI August 22, 2013 at 7:23PM

      Every store displays the logos of the cards they accept. WalMart promotes Discover.

    • Jean October 28, 2013 at 7:34AM

      Elaine–you have likely received some input by now, but the only places I could not use my Discover card are a grocery part of a local group, and at the gas pump. Discover WILL be accepted at gas stations, just not at the pump everywhere.

  13. lilvic January 31, 2013 at 1:29AM

    I just moved to the UK from the US and have found that most people haven’t even heard of Discover. I have yet to find a shop that accepts Discover, even the Wal-Mart owned ASDA stores don’t accept it. Very disappointing, especially when there aren’t any international fees, doesn’t really help when you can’t use it internationally.

  14. David Thompson March 29, 2012 at 8:44AM

    I just got back from my first trip to London and Paris. My Discover card was not accepted ANYWHERE outside of the U.S. on this trip.

    • Brittany November 30, 2012 at 10:12AM

      Thank you David! I am going to London in January and was unsure if Discover was accepted there. In your opinion would Visa be the best choice?

      Thank you!

  15. Dianna March 1, 2012 at 10:52PM

    I tried to use my Discover card today with 3 different merchants (2 local restaurants and 1 local repertory theater), and ended up having to use a different credit card because they didn’t accept Discover. That said, I was able to use it successfully with 3 online merchants. (Discover has a promotion that just started today, so I am actively trying to use it whenever I need to make a credit card purchase.)

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