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The most widely used credit card networks, both domestically and internationally, are without a doubt Visa and Mastercard. Customers with one of these two types of cards will be able to make purchases at the majority of establishments worldwide. Due to partnerships, Discover is accepted at nearly the same number of businesses, but is conspicuously absent from countries like Mexico and Germany. American Express currently has the lowest acceptance rates internationally. We advise Amex cardholders to travel with a backup Visa or Mastercard, especially when going abroad.
For domestic purchases
American Express, Visa, and Mastercard are now almost equally accepted by domestic merchants. According to AmExs Q4 2019 earnings release from January 2020, 99% of U S. merchants who accept credit cards now also accept American Express.
It wasnt always this way. Because it had previously charged merchants higher interchange fees, also known as “swipe fees,” American Express acceptance had historically lagged behind that of other payment networks (including Discover) even just a few years ago. ”.
AmEx set that 99% “virtual parity” goal in 2016, and the company says its gotten there in large part because of its OptBlue program, which has helped mitigate swipe fees and close the acceptance gap. The program allows eligible small businesses to accept AmEx cards through one of several third-party payment processors that partner with the issuer and set their own swipe fee rates.
In short, the phrase “we don’t take American Express” will be much less common in 2020 than it was a few years ago. “.
Discover is now also at 99% acceptance among U.S. merchants that take credit cards. Thats according to the February 2020 Nilson Report industry newsletter.
“We’ve worked to increase acceptance by establishing connections with all major U S. and are integrated into their standard payment solutions for businesses, according to a Discover representative’s email.
It did take Discover a little longer to get there. For instance, the 2019 version of the Nilson Report noted Discover was accepted by only 96% of U.S. merchants. (You may have learned that fact if you only watched Super Bowl LIV for the commercials, as Discover featured an ad sharing the news.)
AmEx had a slight advantage in terms of acceptance for a while, but they’re now even.
If you’re traveling overseas
Since American Express and Discover lag behind Visa and Mastercard in this regard, it is more difficult to obtain information on international acceptance.
However, AmEx and Discover are working to expand their global reach. American Express has a three-year goal of increasing international acceptance by 20% To do this, the business has been collaborating with banks in various nations, and those banks are acquiring new merchants for AmEx. The issuer has also worked to broaden the reach of its rewards-earning credit cards since 2019, so bonus dining rewards aren’t just available to U S. eateries but apply to restaurants worldwide.
The Discover Global Network combines Discover Network, Diners Club International, PULSE and more than 15 alliance partner networks to increase Discover’s acceptance rates worldwide. Discover provides a map of countries where its cards are accepted. It notes that Discover cardholders can use their cards where a Discover partner is accepted. Currently, the Discover Global Network has more than 48 million merchant acceptance locations and 2 million ATM and cash access locations around the world, according to a Discover representative.
Nevertheless, just because Discover or American Express claim their cards are accepted in a particular nation doesn’t mean all businesses there will. Always carry a Visa or Mastercard with you as a backup. Take your debit card as well so you can use an ATM to get cash. As a result, you will always have a way to pay available, regardless of what a business accepts.
Which should you choose?
Both Discover and American Express provide excellent credit cards, and you generally won’t encounter issues using either when making purchases online or at large national or local chains of stores and restaurants. Additionally, more small businesses are starting to accept both types of cards than ever before.
However, many American Express cards will be better suited for earning travel rewards while Discover credit cards tend to focus more on cash-back rewards.
Whichever you decide, think about adding a Visa or Mastercard as well, especially if you travel abroad frequently.
Ben Luthi, a former credit card expert for NerdWallet, is one of the authors. Read more.
Sara Rathner is a NerdWallet travel and credit cards expert. She has made appearances on “Today,” “Nasdaq,” and “Nightly Business Report” on CNBC. ” Read more.
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What is Credit Card Acceptance? | Discover | Credit Resource Center
Is Discover hard to get approved for?
You’ll stand a good chance of getting approved for a Discover credit card if you have a high credit score. But if you violate Discover’s application guidelines, it won’t matter. It’s a good idea to see if Discover will reconsider your application if you haven’t already but yours was still rejected.
Is Discover Card easy to get approved?
The majority of Discover credit cards require a credit score of 700, but some Discover cards have no minimum credit score requirement. If your credit score is below 640, you may still be eligible for the Discover it® Secured Credit Card.
How widely accepted is Discover card?
How widely accepted are Discover Cards? Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards Additionally, the Discover Global Network provides acceptance in 200 nations and territories worldwide.
Can I get a Discover card with a 500 credit score?
The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is the best credit card for people with credit scores under 500. It has a $0 annual fee and rewards cardholders with 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 spent each quarter combined), and 1% back on all other purchases
Where is Discover not accepted?
Customers with one of these two types of cards will be able to make purchases at the majority of establishments worldwide. Due to partnerships, Discover is accepted at nearly the same number of businesses, but is conspicuously absent from countries like Mexico and Germany.