Discover Is More Widely Accepted Than You Might Think

Dec 22, 2018

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To paraphrase another issuer’s old tagline: Discover card, don’t leave the US with it. At least, that’s been the knock on Discover, even as it promotes no foreign transaction fees on cards like the Discover it Miles. That benefit does little good if no foreign merchant will accept the card.

But the reality is that Discover is actually accepted at more 30 million foreign merchants across 190 countries and territories — outside of the US. As you pack your wallet on your next international trip, it may help to note that Discover has established network alliances across the globe, including relationships in China, Japan, Korea, India, Brazil, Turkey, Nigeria and throughout Europe. In September 2018, Discover announced yet another alliance to expand acceptance in Mexico. Discover, Diners Club International, PULSE and network affiliate cards are now accepted on Prosa’s network in Mexico at both point-of-sale and ATM locations.

Use your Discover Card in countries around the world (image courtesy of Discover)
Use your Discover Card in countries around the world (image courtesy of Discover)

That doesn’t mean Discover can be used everywhere within the countries which it has agreements, just as the issuer isn’t accepted everywhere in the US. Still, in 2015, according to some studies, Discover actually became one of the most widely accepted payment card globally. In the US, it has the third highest acceptance rate among card networks, beating out American Express.

If you do travel with the card, just be aware there are still some some gaps in coverage. The issuer has a handy tool you can use to see if the country you’re traveling to accepts Discover. The area with the least coverage is Africa, where Discover is accepted only in Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda and South Africa. It also has coverage gaps in the Middle East, but it is accepted in the United Arab Emirates.

Check the tool to see where Discover cards are accepted at merchants and ATMs. You typically can use your Discover card wherever you see the Discover or Diners Club International symbols displayed. Other foreign partners include Union Pay on mainland China and JCB in Japan.

You’ll, of course, want to bring at least one backup credit card with you on foreign trips — in case the shop where you found that adorable tchotchke only accepts Visa. While you’re at it, I’d pack some local currency too, just to be extra safe.

Featured image by Caiaimage/Chris Ryan / Getty Images

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