Why Isn't the Discover Card Accepted Everywhere?

Discover it Miles credit card

Discover credit cards come with a lot of desirable features that attract new users, such as no annual fees, cash back rewards, and low introductory interest rates.

However, once the new cards arrive in the mail, many consumers become disappointed when they find out that Discover Card acceptance isn't as widespread as rivals MasterCard and Visa.

Here at MyBankTracker, we did some investigating to understand why your Discover card isn't accepted everywhere.

The question is:

What Makes It Different?

Like American Express, in most cases, Discover issues its line of credit directly to consumers, while Visa and MasterCard are issued through banks and other entities that promote the cards and manage the billing.

These partnerships help to spread the costs associated with logistics and promotion. According to a spokesperson for Discover, more than 30 Discover cards are co-branded with other partners.

It gets better:

Merchants Pay More

It may come as no surprise that the reason many merchants opt out of accepting Discover cards (and American Express, for that matter) is about the bottom line.

The Discover card is also like American Express in that they both charge a bit more to store owners to accept their cards.

A spokesperson for Discover said the exact number cannot be disclosed, but suggested that the figure is around 3 percent per sale. MasterCard and Visa only charge around 2 percent of a transaction total.

That difference keeps many small business owners away from accepting Discover.

Transaction fees are often the reason some small retailers require a minimum amount to be spent for a customer to use a charge card, so that the fees don't exceed the small profit made in the sale.

Let’s face it:

Less than one percent more may not sound like much, but when the merchant is also paying to rent or own the equipment used to process transactions and network access fees, "just a little bit" more can be a little bit too much for some retailers.

Another issue that holds back some merchants may be a perception that Discover won't honor purchase agreements.

Discover offers a buyer protection for up to 90 days which even covers theft or damage.

The retailer may have concerns about being responsible for the cost of the item, even if it isn't returned and even if there is no return policy. This can present a risk -- real or perceived -- that many retailers don't want to bear.

Which Merchants Don't Accept Discover Card

One of the biggest retailers that doesn't accept Discover cards is Costco, a wholesale warehouse club. Costco has an exclusive partnership with Visa to only accept Visa credit cards in exchange for a lower merchant fee rate.

Additionally, certain locations of major restaurant chains have been known to reject Discover cards.

These locations are usually operated by franchisees of these restaurant chains. For example, some stores of Subway or Burger King may accept Discover cards while others do not -- it depends on the owner of that particular store.

In Addition:

Geographically-challenged

On the surface, one of Discover's perks are attractive to international travelers, but while Discover card holders don't pay any foreign transaction fees, it isn't accepted in some places worldwide.

Discover hasn't moved into a number of nations, including all of the countries in Africa except for Morocco and South Africa, nor does it do business in France, Ireland, Australia, Ukraine or India.

Its affiliation with Diners Club International may extend its availability in some stores in some countries, but it is not as universally accepted like MasterCard or Visa.

That said:

Even though Discover has set itself up to do business in more countries than it used to, the same problems with high fees to retailers keep many from accepting the cards.

Some other banks charge retailers steep fees for foreign transactions on credit card purchases, but there are other cards available in addition to Discover which don't charge foreign transaction fees.

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Ask a Question

disqus_INIzlqSsfN
Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 3:34 AM
<p>764 FICO there Mr. Bankster.. Still hating every second of debt servicing even though my balance is modest.. BTW, anyone who isn't using debt to generate cashflow is poor..</p>
disqus_Ns16Z7axEt
Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019 1:27 AM
<p>Go be poor elsewhere, Emil...and pay your damn bills.</p>
disqus_INIzlqSsfN
Monday, 15 Apr 2019 5:50 PM
<p>Hey, JC.. Crawl back under the rock you barbarian!!!</p>
disqus_Ns16Z7axEt
Thursday, 07 Mar 2019 5:13 PM
<p>Banks are crooked because you're floating a loan on their cards and they charge interest when you don't pay them in full... got it...</p>
disqus_F97gi59RxP
Sunday, 05 Aug 2018 6:25 PM
<p>My experience is different. Discover sided with the merchant when I disputed a charge involving false advertisement back in 2010. I booked a 2-bed hotel room in Manhattan (NYC) with 3 names registered (couldn't be more honest than that) and they dare to assign us a 1-bed room with barely any room for a even a sleeping bag. This hotel made no adjustment to the rate I'm being charged ($476/night) for 7 nights and never had the correct room available to us despite asking every morning so after the 3rd night, we forced them to cancel the rest of our reservation and moved to another hotel that cost a bit more but had a room with 2 beds that we need. And Discover dared to decline my dispute after their investigation that the "circumstance was beyond the merchant's control and therefore un-disputable". I closed my account afterwards and vow to never give Discover any business again.</p>
seattle_bound
Monday, 18 Jun 2018 5:56 PM
<p>Let's here from both sides of this dispute. Let's see the statement that the card holder presented to Discover what lead them to take the card holders word over yours.</p><p>You can upload that letter fro discover into Google Docs, get the URL to it, and post the URL here so we can see clearly what occurred and make a fair judgment as to whether Discover was wrong, or not.</p>
seattle_bound
Monday, 18 Jun 2018 5:52 PM
<p>Although, I had a credit card through CHASE bank, they coninually REFUSED to lower my interest rate despite my credit score of 799! It remained in the 20% range.</p><p>I applied for the discover card and my Interest rate is 14.74%. COSTCO is NOT important to me. I do have a checking account. And I have Barclay at 17% for anything that does not take Discover. If you are an honest person, and want to steer clear of the crooked banking industry, look into Discover (owned by the people) or Barclay (from the UK).</p>
disqus_59JTZxNJ1i
Thursday, 03 May 2018 7:39 PM
<p>He isnt wrong though. You can listen to a merchant complain about something that affects every single card type but you're not allowed to point that fact out after they complain? Fpppp please. He just punished both discover and everyone thst uses it over a single incident that happens to every card type.</p>
tnthomas
Tuesday, 09 Jan 2018 11:03 PM
<p>Mark Ebrahimian I find it completely reasonable to believe that you could have interchanged Discover with virtually any and every other credit card issuer in your given scenario and have experienced the same outcome. A single isolated incident (presuming you are not implying that this anecdotal evidence reflects a documented pattern) would not seem a fair basis on which to issue such a categorically sweeping pronouncement.</p>
MyBankTracker
Thursday, 09 Nov 2017 8:42 PM
<p>Always important to hear the side of the merchant when it comes to card acceptance. Are you allowed to provide further details on how your situation played out? What cards do you accept now?</p>
markebrahimian
Thursday, 09 Nov 2017 3:55 PM
<p>I as a merchant was the victim of premeditated credit card fraud by an unscrupulous client and Discover arbitrarily decided in favor of the client essentially stealing money from my bank account. I will not accept Discover card any longer. They are a business risk</p>
MyBankTracker
Friday, 28 Jul 2017 6:48 PM
<p>Yes, Save Mart Supermarkets do accept Discover.</p>
Thursday, 27 Jul 2017 5:27 PM
<p>Does save mart accept discover card</p>