3 Surprising Facts About Using Discover Credit & Debit Cards Internationally

Good morning everyone. I am heading to Greece and Malta for vacation and called my credit card companies and banks to add travel notifications to my accounts. I know most credit card companies and banks do not require you to alert them when you are travelling internationally, but I like the peace of mind of speaking to a person and making sure the travel notification are added to my accounts. When I travel internationally, I like to bring several credit and debit cards from various banks, just in case if some of the cards get lost, stolen, or declined. This means I end up making several calls, but it’s worth it to me.

Image source: http://westprincechamber.com/we-now-accept-credit-and-debit-cards/

While on the phone with Discover, I told the agent that I was travelling internationally and wanted to add a travel notification to my Discover debit card. As soon as I mentioned adding a travel notification to my debit card, the agent said that if I am traveling outside of North America (Mexico, United States, and Canada), Discover has very spotty ATM coverage throughout Europe and the rest of the world. That was disappointing, but good to know.

He then mentioned that Discover credit cards do not have foreign transaction fees (somewhat rare for credit cards with no annual fee) and he asked me if I wanted to add travel notifications to my Discover credit cards. I said yes and he transferred me to the credit card department.

The second rep was very helpful and added travel notifications to both my Discover It Credit Card and Discover It Miles Credit Card. He mentioned that in Greece and Malta, Discover credit card transactions can be processed on both the Discover and Diners Club payment networks. I had no idea Discover and Diners Club ran on the same/similar payment network.

Before I called Discover, I was planning on taking my Discover debit card and leaving my Discover credit cards at home, but after the call, I plan on leaving my Discover debit card at home and taking my Discover It Miles Credit Card on my trip. My Discover It Miles Credit Card earns 3x miles per dollar on all purchases during my first year.

Long story short, I’m glad I called Discover and made the smart decision regarding my credit and debit cards. Have you used your Discover credit card in Europe recently? What has been your experience? If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Have a great day everyone!

P.S. If you want to sign up for the Discover It Credit Card or Discover It Miles Credit Card, I would really appreciate it if you used my referral links.  Thank you for your support!

12 thoughts on “3 Surprising Facts About Using Discover Credit & Debit Cards Internationally

  1. askmrlee

    Discover acquired the Diners Club network (but does not issue Diners Club cards) several years ago. I completely disagree about “spotty” ATM coverage as even a long time ago (pre-Euro), I used a Discover credit card tied to my then savings account and performed an ATM withdrawal in Nice, France and incurred no fees (cash advance, ATM, etc.). Discover also owns the Pulse ATM network. ATMs may not display a Discover card logo, but will likely display a Diners Club for acceptance.

    Using Discover card for purchases, I can say that it works about 90-95% of the time in Japan. However the merchant category may not quite match, so you may be out of luck for a 5% cashback reward. Last year, my beer at Tokyo Dome Stadium coded as restaurant and earned 5%, but not a cafe in adjacent Tokyo Dome City which was coded as “merchandise”. It also failed at JR Hokkaido. The biggest challenge you may find is that the merchant doesn’t recognize the card since it has no JCB logo on it. Just say “Amerika- no JCB card-o” and that usually clears things up.

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experience of using your Discover debit card pre-Euro. I know the merchant categories may not line up correctly 100% of the time but I will always try to use my Chase Sapphire Reserve for restaurant and transportation charges. Nice tip about using the Discover credit card in Japan :)

      Reply
        1. Grant Post author

          Awesome, that’s great to hear. I still have some room to go before I max out my Discover It 5% cash back at grocery stores this quarter, so I’ll make some purchases in Europe.

          Reply
  2. 02nz

    I think the part about being processed on the Diners Club network is true in most if not all countries. I’ve used Discover internationally and was surprised at how widely it was accepted, including many places that did not have a Discover logo.

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      That’s very reassuring. I don’t think I’ve ever used my Discover credit card internationally, but I hope to have a good success rate in Europe :)

      Reply
  3. Christian

    Discover pulled my grits out of the fire in Crete. I I had a good bit of US cash that I intended to change at the airport. The exchange there was closed. I stopped at an atm in town enroute to the hotel to clean out my bank account, so I had a bit of local cash. The next day was some holiday, then there was the weekend. The tourist exchange places had truly horrible rates. Fortunately, I could pull money as an advance on my Discover card. Otherwise, the trip would have been pretty bad.

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      I’m glad Discover was able to help out when you need some cash. I will be spending some time in Crete. Do you have any recommendations?

      Reply
      1. Christian

        Well, it’s a pretty amazing island, and my wife and I have lots more to see. Are you staying in Heraklion? How long will you be in Crete? Any particular interests?

        Reply
        1. Grant Post author

          We are on Crete only 2 days, staying at the Radisson Blu Crete about 40 minutes outside Heraklion. Anything unique to Crete that we should definitely see and do? I think the gorge is pretty popular.

          Reply
  4. Christian

    Wow, kind of like seeing New York in a day. Well, the ruins of Knossos are an absolute must. If you like history and museums, the Cretan museum is really nice in Heraklion. We hired a good driver for a couple of days and saw some amazing scenery, although we didn’t experience any of the many gorges. A lot depends on your pace. If I had to suggest, I’d say do a day in Heraklion and either join a tour or hire a driver for a day. I sent family with the same driver last year, and they loved him. I don’t remember the price, but at a guess, I’d say in the 200 euro range per car, not person. Email me if you’d like his contact information or have any questions. Just as a dp, we’re looking at going back for another week this October with another couple.

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Hi Christian, that is great to know. We won’t be able to see/do everything in 2 days, but get a sample for what Crete has to offer. The Ruins of Knossos sounds interesting, I’ll check out some photos online.

      Reply

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