Discover Card Foreign Transaction Fees (Explained)

Last Updated on June, 2024

Are you planning to try a ‘Discover’ card and thinking about its foreign transaction fees?

I can understand your concern. 

Even though there are so many popular cards, the best thing about the Discover card is that it doesn’t use any fee for foreign transactions.

This way, you can save a little money from your usual spending. 

But, apart from that, you must know a lot about it!

So keep reading.

Quick Summary

One of the major benefits of using a Discover card while traveling abroad is that it does not charge any fees for foreign transactions. This eliminates the added expense of international transaction fees, helping you save money while spending in other countries.

Discover may not be widely accepted outside of the US, so it is important to check before traveling.

While Discover does not charge foreign transaction fees, there may be other associated fees such as ATM fees and cash advance fees. It is important to check the terms and conditions of your specific Discover card. Consider alternatives like Wise or Revolut for fee-free international spending.

Discover Card Foreign Transaction Fees

Can I Use My Discover Card Internationally?

discover logo

Yes. Discover cards can be used internationally in locations that display the Discover logo for making purchases with merchants and withdrawing cash from ATMs.

It’s essential to be aware that Discover may not be widely accepted OUTSIDE the U.S. Before traveling, check if Discover is a popular card network in your destination.

GUESS WHAT? The Discover website provides more details about network coverage, categorizing countries into high acceptance and those with growing acceptance.

Countries like Canada and Mexico, as well as major European economies like Germany, fall into the lower bracket of growing acceptance. To ensure smooth transactions, additional payment methods, such as Visa or Mastercard, should be carried out in case Discover faces difficulties.

Listen, even if your Discover card is accepted, it might not be the most budget-friendly method due to cash advance fees, interest, and late payment fees. These fees will be explained in detail shortly. 

Keep reading. 

Discover Card Abroad (Other Fees)

When using your Discover card abroad, be aware of additional costs beyond those imposed directly by Discover, including the following:

  • ATM Fees:

Using Discover’s ATM finder, you can find ATMs that offer free withdrawals, but some machines may charge fees. Research the extended Discover network for potentially lower costs.

  • Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC):

When purchasing or withdrawing cash abroad, you will be asked whether to process the transaction in the local currency or USD. In that case, avoid using USD – for convenience! Because this is Dynamic Currency Conversion. 

Plus, remember! Choosing your home currency may result in unfavorable exchange rates and additional fees. My advice is to choose local currency to avoid unnecessary charges.

What Are the Other Discover Fees?

Listen carefully. Discover cards generally don’t charge an annual fee, but like any credit card, they have other potential costs. It’s essential to be aware of these fees, although they may vary. So, check the details of your specific card.

The following tiered list shows monthly volume and fee discount:

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR): The APR for Discover cards depends on your chosen card. Many cards offer a 0% APR for an initial period, but afterward, it typically ranges between 11.99% and 22.99%.
  • Balance Transfer Fee: If you take out a cash advance, you’ll be charged more than $10 or 5% of the advance amount.
  • Late Fee: After the first late payment (free), subsequent late payments can incur a fee of up to $40. 
  • Returned Payment Fee: You may be charged up to $40, in case a payment is returned.

Remember that these fees could change. So, ALWAYS check your Discover card’s specific terms and conditions.

Types of Discover Cards

a screenshot of the types of discover cards banner

Do you know? The no foreign transaction fees and absence of an annual fee APPLY to all Discover cards. Discover offers a variety of cards, each designed for specific purposes. 

Comparing Discover Card’s International Fees

When comparing Discover card’s international fees to alternatives like Wise, Revolut, and Bank of America, it’s important to note that Discover has no foreign transaction fees. However, international fees can vary across different services.

Different OPTIONS serve various customers, each with its international features and fees. Pay attention to fees calculated as a percentage of your spending, as even a small percentage can add up quickly when applied to every dollar spent while traveling.

However, check out the following table:

Service/ProviderExchange RateForeign Transaction FeeInternational ATM FeeAdditional Expenses to Be Aware Of
DiscoverDiscover exchange rateNoneUsually $10 or 5% cash advance feeCredit card interest, late payment fees, penalties if not repaid in full
WiseMid-market exchange rateNone – currency exchange from 0.41%
Free to spend from any currency you have
2 free withdrawals up to $100 per month 
After that, $1.5 + 2%
$9 card order fee
RevolutMid-market exchange rate1.5% per transactionNo fees up to plan limit
After that, 2%
Monthly fees depending on account tier
Bank of AmericaExchange rate provided by Bank of America or card networkVaried, typically 3%Varies, some fee-free ATMs available for debit card withdrawals
Credit card with no annual fee
Credit card cash advance (about 3%), possible annual fees, credit card interest, late payment fees, penalties if not repaid in full

Discover Card Foreign Transaction Limits

user interface of discover money transfer website

Various eligibility criteria, including your credit card score, play an essential role in determining your credit card limit on a Discover card.

You can typically complete an outline credit check before applying, which won’t affect your credit score. The result of this check can indicate your likelihood of approval for a new card.

Does Discover Have Foreign Transaction Fees?

Discover cards don’t charge currency conversion or foreign transaction fees when used overseas. This sets them APART from cards that typically impose fees of up to 3% on international spending.

Discover credit cards, which come in different types such as cash back, travel, student, or secured, typically don’t charge an annual fee. This means that using a Discover card overseas can be cheaper than cards that add fees for foreign transactions.

While Discover doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, it’s important to be aware of other potential costs associated with their credit cards.

These may include cash advance fees when using an ATM and interest and penalties. However, it’s worth noting that Discover may not offer the most competitive interest rates depending on your credit score.

The following table will simplify my point. 

Credit CardForeign Transaction Fees & Exchange RatesMaintenance Fees & InterestRewards
Discover it Cash BackNo foreign transaction fees
Exchange rate set by Discover
There’s no annual fee, and the interest rate varies from 16.74% to 27.74%
For cash advances, the interest rate is 29.74%.
Receive 5% cash back on select rotating merchants and 1% cash back on other eligible purchases
Discover it ChromeNo foreign transaction fees
Exchange rate set by Discover
There’s no annual fee, and the interest rate varies from 16.74% to 27.74%. 
For cash advances, the interest rate is 29.74%.
Receive 2% cash back on purchases made at gas stations and restaurants, and earn 1% cash back on all other eligible spending
Discover it MilesNo foreign transaction fees
Exchange rate set by Discover
There’s no annual fee, and the interest rate varies from 16.74% to 27.74%
For cash advances, the interest rate is 29.74%.
1.5× miles earned for every dollar spent

However, if you want to avoid interest payments and penalties, an alternative option is a debit card from providers like Wise and Revolut.

As you know, these debit cards don’t have foreign transaction fees, and both Wise and Revolut offer the convenience of multi-currency holding options for seamless international spending and travel.

Discover International ATM Fees

a screenshot of the fact that discover has no charges for foreign transactions

Understand that Discover doesn’t impose a specific fee when you use an ATM; instead, you’ll face a cash advance fee when withdrawing cash.

This fee is high, though!

Also, the ATM operator may add their own fee, so check the screen for additional charges during your withdrawal. When using an ATM with your Discover card, reviewing your card’s terms and conditions is essential. Check if the interest rate for cash advances is higher than that for regular card purchases.

Typically, it is higher, and interest may increase immediately after the withdrawal without the grace period offered for card purchases.

Have you got it?

Card TypeCash Advance Fee at ATMForeign Transaction FeeATM Operator Fee
Discover it Chrome$10 or 5% cash advance fee (whichever is higher)
Plus, 29.74% APR for cash advances
No FeeVaries based on country and operator
Discover it Cash Back$10 or 5% cash advance fee (whichever is higher)
Plus, 29.74% APR for cash advances
No FeeVaries based on country and operator
Discover it Miles$10 or 5% cash advance fee (whichever is higher)
Plus, 29.74% APR for cash advances
No FeeVaries based on country and operator

Notes: 

Discover Exchange Rates

I’ll tell you about Discover exchange rates. When you make purchases in a foreign currency using your Discover card, the amount you pay will be converted back to dollars.

It’s important to note that the exchange rate applied might be the live Discover rate on the day your purchase is processed, not the day you make the transaction.

Discover’s exchange rates may differ from those you find on Google for the same currency pair because they include a small markup on the mid-market exchange rate. While this is a common practice, estimating your total spending in USD at the end of the month can make it a bit challenging.

In contrast, some providers like Wise and Revolut separate the currency exchange costs and use the mid-market rate for conversion based on your account plan. This approach can be more transparent, making it easier to understand precisely what you spend each time.

Discover Cards Alternatives

discover alternatives

Discover is a GOOD CHOICE when spending internationally due to its absence of foreign transaction fees. However, since the Discover network is less widely accepted globally than in the U.S, having a couple of cards on a different network is practical.

However, choosing the right card can help reduce foreign transaction fees and secure better currency exchange rates. 

Here are some alternative card OPTIONS to Discover:

DetailsWiseRevolutAmExBank of America
Card TypesDebitDebitDebit and CreditDebit and Credit
Order Fee$9No FeeNo FeeNo Fee
FeesNoneMonthly fee is applied depending on account tierVaried by card typeAnnual fees are subject to inclusion based on the card chosen
Currencies40+ for holding and exchange. And 160+ countries 25+ for holding and exchange, spend in 150+Calculate bills in USD, spend anywhere accepted worldwideCalculate bills in USD, spend anywhere accepted worldwide
TransactionNoneNoneCertain cards waive foreign transaction fees based on the card type, while others impose fees typically ranging from 2.5% to 3%Typically, debit cards and numerous credit cards incur a 3% fee.
However, there are credit cards offered that waive foreign transaction fees
ATM Fee2 free withdrawals to $100 per month, then $1.5 + 2%No-fee withdrawals to plan limit, 2% after thatUsually, a fee of $10 or 5% of the cash advance amount (whichever is greater) appliesCredit cards often come with a cash advance fee, typically around 3%
Exchange RateCurrency exchange from 0.41% (Mid-market rate)up to the plan cap, then a 0.5% reasonable use charge applies.Network rateNetwork rate

Using your card for spending and cash withdrawals is often convenient and secure when traveling abroad. It beats carrying a stack of foreign bills. However, the choice of your card can significantly impact the overall cost.

So, I’ll help you with some alternatives to Discover:

wise money transfer
revolut money transfer logo
american express money transfer logo
bank of america money transfer logo

Wise

  • Wise is a well-regulated and trusted specialist provider.
  • Holding 40+ currencies and spending in 170+ countries.
  • Free to spend any held currency, mid-market exchange rates with fees from 0.41%.
  • Opening online accounts, fee-free monthly withdrawals, low ATM fees, and easy international money receipt in 10 currencies.

Revolut

  • Revolut is licensed and regulated worldwide and provides services safely.
  • Account plan ranges, 25+ supported currencies, some no-fee currency exchange monthly.
  • No fees for spending held currency, mid-market exchange to plan limit (0.5% fee after)
  • Options for no monthly fees, monthly currency exchange using a mid-market exchange rate, and additional features with paid accounts.

American Express (AmEx)

  • AmEx has various card options, including no foreign transaction fee cards, rewards, and cash back.
  • It is reputable and famous, but its popularity varies by region.
  • Cash advance fees (around 5%).
  • It is reputable and famous, but its popularity varies by region.
  • Range of credit cards, some with no annual fee, others with no foreign transaction fee, rewards, and cash-back opportunities.

Bank of America

  • Bank Of America is fully licensed, regulated, and safe to use.
  • It’s a well-supported bank with credit and debit cards; some credit cards don’t have foreign transaction fees.
  • Cash advance fees (around 3%).
  • A variety of credit and debit cards, some credit cards with fewer international charges, weigh annual fees against perks.

How Do You Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees When Traveling?

This is my favorite part. I mean, to be in the safe zone!

In that case, you should also know how to avoid foreign transaction fees when traveling.

Alright, listen. Using a Discover card without a foreign transaction fee will save you money when traveling abroad. However, be CAUTIOUS of additional fees, especially when withdrawing cash from an ATM.

However, to minimize costs and complications:

  • Read your card’s terms and conditions to understand overseas spending and withdrawal fees.
  • Prefer paying in the local currency to avoid dynamic currency conversion (DCC).
  • Timely bill payments are crucial to avoid late payment fees from Discover.
  • Notify Discover about your travel plans online to ensure your card is not blocked due to anti-fraud measures.
  • Confirm that your Discover card is accepted in the area by looking for logos such as Discover, Union Pay, or Diners Club.

You can also consider alternatives like Wise or Revolut, which offer no foreign transaction fees for spending and cash withdrawals in supported currencies.

Useful guides:

Conclusions

So, as a RECAP, remember that Discover cards are comparatively cheap. But it doesn’t mean it’s FREE except for Discover Card Foreign Transaction Fees.

However, Discover isn’t globally accepted. 

So, to be safe, it’s BEST to consider alternatives like Wise or Revolut.

FAQs

No, Discover cards do not charge fees for foreign transactions. However, using an ATM may result in cash advance charges of approximately 5%.

Yes, when traveling, it is essential to inform Discover. You can do this by logging into your account online and setting up a travel notification. It is also crucial to update your contact details with Discover in case they need to reach you while you are away.

Yes, Discover cards can be used in Europe. However, acceptance may vary depending on the country. While countries like Australia and Switzerland have high acceptance rates, other popular countries may have limited acceptance. It is important to note that France, in particular, has a low acceptance rate for Discover cards.

Yes, it is possible to use your Discover card internationally without incurring foreign transaction fees. However, other fees such as cash advance charges and interest rates may still apply.

No, Discover Card is not accepted internationally everywhere. It is important to check if Discover services are available in your destination beforehand. Consider having alternative payment methods, such as Wise or Revolut, to avoid fees and have a backup in case Discover is not accepted.

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Author
Allen Morning
I'm Allen Morning, with a background spanning over 15 years in international finance and education from Harvard and Stanford. I founded Currenciap with a vision to demystify and streamline global financial transactions. My journey in finance has fueled my commitment to creating a platform that is both user-friendly and efficient, making international finance accessible to everyone. You can find more about me here.

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