Friday, June 20, 2008

International Credit Cards Accepted In The U.S.

Here’s the last in our short series about U.S., International, and Frequent-Flyer credit cards. (To see other entries, click "ATM and Credit Cards" in the Topics list at right.)

Most international visitors to the U.S. know that Visa and MasterCard (no matter what country they’re issued in) are generally accepted everywhere. Many U.S. merchants also accept other cards – most notably American Express and Discover. In smaller communities or at smaller businesses, Visa and MasterCard may be the only cards taken.

What you may not know is that several other internationally issued cards are accepted within the U.S. JCB (Japan) and UnionPay (China) cards are (supposedly*) accepted anyplace in the U.S. that displays the Discover logo, even if the business isn’t aware it can accept those cards. Likewise, Diners Club cards are accepted in the U.S. and Canada anywhere that MasterCard is taken (most newer Diners cards should have a MasterCard logo on either the front or back). Things with Diners/Discover will probably change in the future, as Discover has purchased Diners, with integration of their card programs scheduled to take two to three years. Finally, the Maestro card (a MasterCard debit card, widely used in Europe) is accepted anyplace that displays a MasterCard logo.

[*We recently received a JCB card, and it was not accepted at a Discover merchant. We were told by JCB that the Discover integration is not yet complete. We’ll keep testing the card, and post a JCB update in the near future. The JCB card has the potential to be a useful travel tool.]