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3.3.3. Brand acceptance

Discover Card has over 50 million cardmembers and the Discover Network has more than 4 million merchant and cash access locations. The Pulse , (ATM) network currently serves more than 4,500 banks, credit unions, and savings institutions. However, unlike its competitors, the Discover Card is neither issued nor widely accepted outside the U.S., although it can be used to obtain cash from ATM locations worldwide. Owing to its heritage at Sears, an additional benefit of the Discover Card is the ability to make payments on the account, in person, at participating Sears stores.

In Canada, Discover brand cards are accepted at few locations, usually at businesses catering to American tourists, such as car rental agencies and hotels, as well as major American merchants like Sears and Wal-Mart. Some Canadian businesses do accept Discover cards but opt to favor Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Interac. ATM service offered by Discover is not currently available in Canada, although cardmembers apparently could access cash at any Sears Canada store.

In the United Kingdom, Discover issued credit cards on the MasterCard network under both the Goldfish and Morgan Stanley brands. This division was purchased from Lloyds TSB in 2005. It was subsequently sold to Barclays on February 7, 2008. These cards have since been rebranded as Barclaycard Goldfish and Barclaycard Platinum respectively.

While Discover brand cards are not currently accepted in Europe, the company's presence continues to grow in Mexico, Costa Rica, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Belize, Palau, and many of the Caribbean Island nations.

Additionally, in May 2005 Discover Network announced an alliance with China UnionPay Network. The two companies have signed a long-term agreement that will lead to acceptance of Discover Network brand cards at UnionPay ATMs and point-of-sale terminals in China and acceptance of China UnionPay cards on the PULSE network in the U.S. CUP cards have been accepted in the US since December 2005, and Discover Cards have been accepted in China since November 8, 2006. This partnership makes Discover Card the most widely accepted American card in China, beating out competitors Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Neither Discover Financial Services nor China UnionPay have stated whether there had any plans to eventually expand acceptance to the other nations where the CUP network is in place, i.e., the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea. A similar agreement was made in August 2006, when the Discover Network announced an alliance with Japan’s JCB Network. JCB Cards will be accepted on the Discover Network in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands starting October 12, 2007 and China UnionPay Cards will be accepted on the Discover Network in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean starting November 1, 2007.

On August 24, 2006, Discover’s PULSE network and the UK’s LINK ATM network announced a reciprocal agreement that will allow the more than 4,500 financial institution participants in the PULSE network to offer their cardholders access to all but a handful of the more than 58,000 cash machines across the UK and allow LINK to offer its 38 participating financial institution members access to more than 265,000 PULSE cash machines in the United States.


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