MasterCard and Visa are the two most widely used credit card networks in America. These cards allow consumers to make payments at almost all businesses worldwide.
The acceptance of Discover at nearly the same merchants is due to different partnerships, but it is not accepted in countries like Mexico and Germany.
American Express has one of the lowest acceptance rates worldwide. That’s why it is always recommended that Amex cardholders have a backup Visa/MasterCard when travelling outside of the United States.
Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express: Which one has the Highest Acceptance Rate?
Visa and MasterCard are the most commonly accepted cards. Discover is slightly behind these brands, while American Express is in fourth. Visa and MasterCard are accepted by most retailers that accept card payments. Discover is the least popular card in terms of service to other countries.
Customers who use American Express or Discover credit cards will have the hardest time finding merchants that accept them, especially when they travel outside the United States. Discover has forged international partnerships with Union Pay and other card networks.
These alliances have enabled Discover to be one of the most popular international card brands. As you can see, Discover has limited coverage in certain countries.
American Express has been working hard over the years to improve acceptance with U.S. merchants. According to the Nilson Report, February 2020, American Express has been accepted by 10.6 million merchants in America. This equates to a 99% acceptance rate.
Credit Card Processing Fees
The costs of processing credit cards are not something that most consumers know about. A credit card transaction requires a lot of resources and companies. Merchants must pay an interchange rate to credit card processing networks in order to be able to accept credit cards.
The merchant’s bank may charge an additional fee to cover the interchange rate charged through processing networks.
Interchange fees are also different between the four major processing networks. They are charged depending on a variety of factors, such as the type and type of business or credit card. Visa and MasterCard have similar interchange rates.
The interchange rate for Discover may be slightly lower. The interchange rate for American Express credit card cards is higher than other networks.
Processing of Debit Card Transactions
Some of the largest processing networks can also process debit card transactions. Although debit cards work in the same way as credit cards, one important difference is that debit cards are funded from a consumer’s bank account and not a line.
Most debit card transactions in America are processed over networks managed by Visa and MasterCard. Visa and MasterCard partner banks to offer debit cards to their customers.
What are the Benefits?
You may be eligible for perks that are not available through your network. Many card issuers offer packages that include perks from the Visa and MasterCard networks.
These networks offer various perks through the Visa Signature and Infinite, World MasterCard and World Elite MasterCard programs.
These benefits are created by the networks for card issuers to use with their cards. However, each issuer can modify the offerings to add or remove benefits. Before you apply, make sure to double-check the card issuer’s website for the specific perks.
It is still a good idea to familiarize you with the benefits offered by each network program. Although the packages at higher tiers are similar among MasterCard, Visa, and American Express cards, there will be some differences.
You might choose MasterCard’s Priceless Cities Program, which offers experiences in online and other cities. Or Visa Infinite’s $30 credit for chauffeured car reservations.
Why is Card Payment Networks Important?
You might have noticed that the focus is on card networks and not individual cards. It is because the card network is what is important when it comes down to acceptance.
If both cards are part of the Visa network, it doesn’t matter if you have a basic card from your bank or a high-end travel rewards card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Visa cards can be accepted by any merchant who accepts Visa.
Visa and MasterCard don’t actually issue cards. Instead, they make agreements with banks and lenders. A company can offer a credit card if it has agreements with banks and lenders.
Merchants who accept credit card payments are charged fees by card network operators. These fees usually include a flat fee and a percentage of the transaction.
If you make $100 on your card, the merchant might pay $0.15 plus 2.5%. This totals $2.65. When you are unsure where your card will be accepted, pay attention to the logo of a payment network on the card.
What to look for while in a Credit Card Network?
Two things you should look out for when applying for a card to travel internationally.
- Foreign Transaction Fees
You will most likely travel to a country that uses U.S. Dollars as its currency. For purchases in currencies other than the U.S. Dollar, many card issuers charge a fee.
Look for a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees if you plan to travel. The fee is usually 3% of the international purchase amount.
- Chip with EMV
While most transactions with American cards can be made by the swipe of your card, it is not common in other countries. They tend to use EMV chip technology.
This technology is safer than magnetic stripes and has been widely adopted overseas. Although U.S. companies are now catching up with this technology, many card issuers continue to offer cards without a chip.
Many overseas businesses won’t accept chip less cards, so ensure your card has one before you go.
Credit Cards Acceptance by Country
Because Discover is part of the Discover Global Network, which includes international payment networks like Diners Club or JCB, Discover is more accepted than other merchants.
Acceptance at Discover is greater in some countries than in others, but it is still accepted by more merchants. To see details about coverage, you can view Discover’s acceptance map.
Visa and MasterCard are, therefore, the most widely accepted networks for international travel. American Express is working to improve its international presence.
It has fallen slightly behind the other networks. We recommend that you check the acceptance rates of any country before you travel abroad. This will ensure that your cards are accepted in all countries.