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Throughout most of the 20th century, the credit card industry was dominated by three names: American Express, Visa (formerly Bankamericard), and MasterCard (formerly Master Charge).
In 1986, another player came into the market with the innovative idea of offering cash back for purchases. But for many years, Discover trailed the Big Three because merchants were slow to accept payments from the new company. (Especially one that had its roots as a subsidiary of department store chain Sears.)
However, times have changed in the 21st century.
As of April 2010, 90% of all merchants are now welcoming Discover cards, which marks an all-time high for the credit card company.
In addition, Discover has made numerous international inroads, becoming the most widely-used card in China.
And after Discover acquired Diners Club in 2008, the number of countries which accept Discover cards will increase from 50 two years ago to 185 by the end of 2010.
Discover also competes annually with the mighty American Express for top scores in customer satisfaction. And its commitment to customer service and providing simple and practical rewards programs are a big part of the many successes of Discover of the last few years.
Discover is best known for its 1% cash back policy. But it is now offering 5% cash back in certain spending categories. Those bonus categories change quarterly. And are also subject to spending caps.
The company has even branched into travel rewards programs with its Miles by Discover Card. So it’s safe to say that almost a quarter century later, Discover will no longer be known as “that little credit card company.”
You can compare Discover’s current line up of cards here.
It is amazing the inroads that Discover has made since its spinoff from Sears. And it will be interesting to see what improvements and advancements it makes over the coming years.