When comparing Discover vs. Visa, you’ll find a lot to like from both camps, such as Discover’s lack of foreign transaction fees or Visa’s wide global acceptance. The main difference you’ll see is that Discover issues its own cards. In other words, it’s a credit card issuer in addition to being a card network. Visa is only a card network. Networks are mostly responsible for processing payments and setting the rules for where and how cards can be used. Issuers determine things like an individual card’s rates and rewards.
There are a number of different categories in which you can compare the two networks. Visa emerges as the winner in most.
Discover vs. Visa – U.S. Acceptance:
Discover is accepted at almost all U.S. merchants (10.4 million). But Visa just barely edges them out, with 10.7 million. There are 344.7 million Visa cards in circulation in the U.S., compared to Discover’s 51.4 million.
Discover vs. Visa – Foreign Acceptance:
Visa is accepted at virtually every merchant in the world who takes credit cards, in 200+ countries and territories. Discover is accepted in 190+ countries and territories, but many of those places only have a small number of merchants who will accept Discover. Discover does have the benefit of no foreign transaction fees on any of its cards, though, while Visa cards may have fees up to 3%.
Discover vs. Visa – Network and Issuer:
Discover is both a network and an issuer. Visa, on the other hand is just a network. So Discover has a lot more control over what rates and rewards each of its cards has.
Discover vs. Visa – Supplemental Benefits:
This is where Visa really shines. Their benefits include extended warranties, price protection, purchase protection, rental car insurance and travel insurance. Discover used to have most of these benefits, but they were discontinued.
Discover vs. Visa – Major Issuers:
Discover Bank issues nearly all of the cards on the Discover network. But lots of different banks and credit unions issue Visa cards, including Capital One, Chase, Citi, Bank of America, U.S. Bank, Barclays, Synchrony and USAA.
At the end of the day, you’ll want a Visa card with no foreign transaction fee if you’re headed abroad. But if you’re staying stateside, a Discover card will serve you just as well as a Visa.