Mastercard is the most widely accepted credit card network. Mastercard credit cards are accepted at 37 million merchant locations in more than 210 countries and territories. Visa is the second most widely accepted credit card network. Its cards can be used at 44 million merchant locations in more than 200 countries and territories. Visa also is the most widely used type of credit card. It accounts for 53% of the cards in circulation.
Mastercard is accepted in more countries than Visa, yet roughly 7 million more merchants worldwide take Visa. So both have their advantages. But there isn’t a single credit card that’s most widely accepted because there are hundreds of Mastercard and Visa credit card offers available.
Most widely accepted credit cards:
Most Widely Accepted Internationally: Mastercard (210+ countries and territories); Visa (200+).
Most Widely Accepted in the U.S.: Visa and Mastercard are both accepted at more than 11 million U.S. merchant locations.
Least Widely Accepted Internationally: American Express (160+ countries and territories); Discover (185+).
Least Widely Accepted in the U.S.: American Express (10.1 million locations). This includes the 1.6 million U.S. merchants American Express added in 2017.
Most Widely Used: Visa has the most credit cards in circulation (about 335 million). American Express has the highest purchase volume, at $14,745 per cardholder annually.
Best Worldwide Credit Cards: Visa or Mastercard credit cards with no foreign transaction fee.
The difference between Visa and Mastercard acceptance is slight. Either should suit your needs almost anywhere in the world. But if you plan on traveling internationally, be sure your Mastercard or Visa credit card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. That will save you up to 3% on every purchase you make abroad.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that store cards are the least widely accepted credit cards. They don’t belong to any of the four major card networks. So they can only be used at their affiliated retailers.
There isn’t much of a difference between Mastercard and Visa when it comes to acceptance. Both card networks are accepted in more than 200 countries and territories. And almost every merchant that takes credit cards accepts both Visa and Mastercard.
But Mastercard does have a slight advantage over Visa in terms of worldwide acceptance. Mastercard works in 210+ counties and territories, compared to 200+ for Visa.… read full answer
Discover is accepted in 185 countries and territories internationally. That includes India, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Puerto Rico, the United Arab Emirates and most other popular destinations for American business and vacation travelers. But just because a Discover card is accepted by at least some merchants in a given country does not mean you should rely on it exclusively. Even Discover classifies its acceptance as low in places like France, Russia and Spain. So you may want to bring a Visa or Mastercard along, too. Those two networks are accepted worldwide.… read full answer
Here’s where Discover cards are most & least likely to be accepted internationally:
High Merchant Acceptance:Argentina, Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, India, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Puerto Rico
Moderate Merchant Acceptance:Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom
Low Merchant Acceptance:Egypt, France, Russia, Spain
No Merchant Acceptance:Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, most of Africa and the Middle East
There are more countries in each of these groups. And you can check out Discover’s international acceptance map for a complete breakdown. But this list will give you a good idea of what to expect in the most popular international travel destinations.
If Discover is widely accepted in your international destination of choice, you should definitely consider getting a Discover card to bring with you. Discover credit cards are well-suited to the task in the sense that none of them charge foreign transaction fees. The Discover it Miles card is an especially good choice, giving you 1.5 miles per $1 spent and doubling the rewards you earn the first year, all without charging an annual fee.
American Express is accepted at 8.5 million merchant locations in the U.S. and in 160+ countries and territories abroad. Aside from the U.S., the countries where American Express is accepted most include Canada, Australia, the UK, India and Mexico.
Most major retailers in the U.S. accept American Express. And Amex even reports that it added more than 1.5 million U.S. merchant locations in 2017 alone. The biggest exception is Costco, which only accepts Visa cards now, after switching from Amex only in 2016. … read full answer
So an American Express card is enough for your shopping within the U.S. Though you may find some stores that don’t take it, the majority will. If you’re planning to travel abroad, you’ll probably want to have a no foreign transaction fee Visa or Mastercard, at least as backup. Those networks are accepted in over 200 countries and territories.
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