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Discover Scraps Foreign Transaction Fee on All Credit Cards

by on October 1, 2011

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Good news for Discover Escape cardholders: you can now escape beyond the US borders. Discover just announced that they’re scrapping the foreign transaction fee on all their credit cards as of November 6th. As an added bonus, they’re also scrapping their “Research Fee” for extra copies of your receipts or billing statements. We always like to see credit cards lower their fees, so this is great news! However, we don’t necessarily recommend you run out to grab a Discover card for your travel purchases just yet. Here’s why: Discover still isn’t accepted in very many countries.

Limited (but improving) international service

As we’ve mentioned before, the Discover acceptance rate has gotten a bad rap for years, and we’ve been hesitant to recommend them because of it. To Discover’s credit, however, they’ve made a real effort to expand their horizons in recent years. Discover acquired Diners Club in 2008, which helped boost their acceptance network tremendously. As of October 2011, you can use your Discover card in most North American and Central American countries, and the Caribbean, but their scope is pretty limited elsewhere.

Discover cards are also accepted in a few major Asian and South American countries (like China and Brazil), South Africa, and 10 countries in Europe, but not necessarily the ones you might expect. You’re covered if you travel to Slovakia, but not to Spain or the UK. Huh? The good news is, thanks to Discover’s merchant acquiring partnership with Global Payments last year, a number of countries, including Spain and the UK, are listed as “coming soon”. And, by the way, we have nothing against Slovakia. We just recommend checking out the full list of countries before traveling with your Discover Card. Traveling is stressful enough without those unpleasant, money-related surprises.

Still a decent deal, especially in Asia

That said, if you find Discover’s list of countries comprehensive enough for your travel purposes, a Discover card might still be a great deal for your travels abroad. Discover’s joint venture China UnionPay in 2005 has actually made them more widely accepted in China than Visa or Mastercard. Similar agreements with JCB, Redecard and BC Card have also made them widely accepted in Japan, Brazil and South Korea, respectively. If you’re interested, we think the Discover Escape card is worth considering, although the Capital One Venture Rewards has a slight edge in the rewards department. Be sure to check out our review of the best international credit cards for tips on what to take with you abroad, as well as a comprehensive list of all the cards with no foreign transaction fees.

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