Is Discover card accepted everywhere?

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 this card brand you may be surprised to learn these facts about their credit cards:

  • Discover Card was launched in 1986
  • In 2016 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 card processing networks (American Express, Visa, MasterCard), Discover Card acceptance has gone nearly global. You can pretty much use your Discover card anywhere abroad, even though total card acceptance footprint may be a bit more limited compared to the other three, 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 early 2016, however.

So, should 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:

  • There are approximately 64 million Discover Cards in circulation (50 million issued by Discover and another 14 million issued by third party banks)
  • Discover is similar to American Express in that they are both the card processing network and the card issuer. By contrast Visa and MasterCard are only card networks and don’t issue cards directly to the public, relying on member banks to do so.
  • Unlike most other card 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.

Is Discover Card accepted absolutely everywhere? It’s certainly accepted at virtually every merchant that accepts credit cards within the United States, Canada and in Mexico (unless you’re trying to shop someplace like Neiman Marcus, which surprisingly only accepts American Express). Abroad, acceptance is less than universal (so if you’re traveling beyond Canada and Mexico check on Discover’s website to see if they take the card in the country/countries you’ll be visiting. However, their acceptance in Japan and the far east in general has been growing in recent years. If it’s not accepted in the country or countries to which you’ll be traveling then simply plan on another payment source – most importantly one that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees). The good news is that you’ll probably 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 March 2017

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

I’ve tried using my Discover card at various locations and to my surprise have found it not acceptable everywhere. When I asked a merchant as to why, they said it was because of the fees that Discover charges them. So, use at your own risk but bring cash or a Visa/Mastercard as a backup.

Bull. My Discover card was turned down 3 times in a row yesterday: at a parking meter, a restaurant, and a movie theater. The only reason I was trying to use the damn thing was because of the 5% cashback at… wait for it…. restaurants and movie theaters. Kind of stupid categories for them to pick when local businesses (like movie theaters and restaurants) apparently hate them.

I have yet to ‘Discover’ many mom and pop shops or retail vendors who take Discover. Sure, they have some wonderful benefits packages, but if you never get to use the card to get those benefits, what’s the point? They usually have great customer service when you call as well, but again, you’re usually calling because you’re upset, because yet another place does not accept Discover. I’m waiting for Discover to get ‘discovered’ by that “10%” (finding that very hard to believe)- because the places many persons use are that 10%.

I’ve been in Mexico City for 4 days now and have tried to use my card at 2 restaurants and supermarkets. No sucess. One of the store was Walmart, the other was Superama which I believe is owned by Walmart. Discover card was one of the credit cards I brought with me for a 3 week stay. I called and was told by Discover that it was accepted in many places. I’m beginning to feel that I made a mistake.

Believe it or not, the Discover card DOES work in the United Kingdom (UK), Ireland and Finland; however, not everyone knows how to use it or accept it. In the UK, look for stores like “Marks & Spencer”, who specifically accepts “Discover” cards, otherwise look for other larger online or brick and mortar stores that accept “Diners Club” cards. I have been successful at several stores in the UK: Selfridges, Urban Outfitters, John Lewis Partnership, Expedia UK, several restaurants and airlines using my “Discover IT” card under the “Diners Club” acceptance policy.

In Ireland, I have been able to successfully use my card at a few hotels (Clayton Hotels, formerly known as Bewleys Hotels; Hilton Hotels; and a few others) and supermarkets (Tesco primarily) – all under the “Diners Club” card acceptance policy.

In Finland, I found the card was accepted at Holiday Inn, Hilton Hotels and Marriott Hotels in Helsinki, but under the Diners Club acceptance policy.

I did have trouble using my Discover IT card at Budget Rent A Car in Central London (UK) this past Christmas/New Year’s (2014/2015), even under the Diners Club acceptance policy; but have been successful renting from Budget at LHR airport. So this must be an issue of whether these Budget locations are either corporate or individual franchises; and whether or not they accept Discover/Diners Club for payment.

Visiting brother in Canada. Discover car accepted almost nowhere. Occasional restaurants, but very little else. Tried to go back to the States to get some cash out of it. No luck. Very few places accept it there either! Will be trading it in for a real Visa or Mastercard.

“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.

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!

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.

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.

That’s a really bad mentality to have. You’re saying you’re entitled to use what you want and you don’t care what the merchants thinks.

Well I’m sure all those businesses are worried that you won’t shop their because you can’t use your Discover Card. You are going to be denying yourself a lot. Discover is the last card I’d worry about not using. But hey, to each their own, I’ll use my MC, VISA, and AMEX and never have a problem.

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.

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

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!?!?!?!

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.

Does Customs and Border Protection (CBP) accept cash, checks or credit cards for duty payment?

Acceptable forms of payment for duties, taxes, and other assessments are:

U.S. currency and coins
Bank drafts
Cashiers’ checks
Certified checks
Personal checks drawn on a U.S. financial institution
Domestic travelers’ checks
U.S. Governments checks endorsed by the payee to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Money orders (U.S. Postal, bank, express or telegraph)
Travelers / Passengers may use Credit Cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and NOVUS/Discover Cards only).

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.

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

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.

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

Elaine OConnor

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.


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.

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

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.

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.

David Thompson

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.

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!

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.)