Discover is neither a Visa nor a Mastercard. It’s more like an American Express card, but they’re not exactly the same, either. Discover is similar to Visa, Mastercard and American Express in the sense that all four are card networks. Each helps process payments for the cards on its network, determines where those cards can be used, and provides extra benefits such as rental car insurance. However, Discover is different from Visa and Mastercard in that most credit cards on the Discover network are issued by Discover. Visa and Mastercard aren’t issuers, so cards on their networks come from lots of different banks and credit unions. Amex, like Discover, is both a card issuer and a card network.
Here’s how Discover differs from Visa or Mastercard:
Discover is both a credit card issuer and a card network. Visa and Mastercard are networks only.
Visa and Mastercard are accepted in more than 200 countries and territories, compared to 185 for Discover.
Visa and Mastercard are accepted at 10.7 million U.S. merchant locations, versus 10.4 million for Discover.
Discover credit cards don’t have foreign transaction fees. Visa and Mastercard credit cards charge 0% to 3% of purchases processed internationally.
If you look at the front of your Discover card, you should see “Discover” with an orange dot for the “o.” Each network has a logo, so it’s easy to tell them apart. And while Discover cards are generally fine to use anywhere in the U.S., you might have trouble in certain countries abroad. So it’s probably best to have a backup Visa or Mastercard.
Discover is a Discover. It's a separate card network and also an issuer. They're just like American Express.
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