Q: Discover Card often runs commercials advertising that they offer 5 percent cash back on purchases. I am interested in this but am concerned about acceptance. How does Discover Card’s acceptance compare to Visa and MasterCard?
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 2014 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. 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 2014, 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:
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 more than 64,000,000 Discover Cards in circulation
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 July 28, 2014