What’s the Difference Between Visa and Diners Club?

Co-author: TJ Ryan 
Visa and Diners Club are two of the leading credit card companies, but don’t mistake the two as being the same.

We’ve compared the two and explained the pros and cons of choosing Visa vs Diners Club.

What’s the difference between Visa and Diners Club?

Visa and Diners Club are quite different, starting with their business approach.

Visa is a payment processing system only; it does not issue any cards directly to the consumer, but allows financial institutions to brand their cards as “Visa” and use these cards on the Visa payment processing system. They make money from the interchange fees they charge banks to use their system.

Meanwhile, Diners Club is also a payment system, but they also issue cards directly to the consumer, finance payments, and process the transfers. They make most of their money from interest charges and fees.

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How many Visa and Diners Club cards are there?

There’s no denying Visa is huge. According to the Nilson Report, in 2016 they had a 16% market share worldwide. There are 3.3 billion Visa-branded cards floating around the world in more than 200 countries as of December 2017.

In sharp contrast, Diners Club has less than 1% market share worldwide. They have more than 70 million cardholders in 190 countries around the world, much fewer than Visa’s 3.3 billion.

Where are Visa and Diners Club cards accepted?

Visa is estimated to be accepted in 44 million locations worldwide and has approximately 2.6 million ATMs around the world.

Diners Club has partnered with MasterCard for wider universal acceptance. It tells us that 38 million MasterCard locations around the world accept Diners Club cards. Diners Club has over 800,000 ATMs in more than 185 countries.

Does Visa or Diners Club have a better rewards program?

Visa offers Platinum cardholders concierge services, emergency assistance services, discounts on dining, and exclusive tickets to major concerts and sporting events.

Diners Club rewards focus on the higher end of the credit card market, offering goodies such as luxury concierge services, exclusive tickets to concerts and sporting events, fine dining deals, and travel discounts. The company is also generous with their rewards points, typically issuing 3 points per $1 spent.

The downside of Diners Club is that New Zealand retailers typically charge a higher surcharge for Diners Club cards. This discourages many everyday customers from using Diners Club, resulting in it being less commonly used or accepted than Visa or MasterCard.

Of course, credit card rewards are constantly changing as providers compete with each other, so it’s worth following our credit card rewards star ratings to keep an eye on what’s on offer.

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How did the Visa vs Diners Club race begin?

Visa was founded in 1958, as the Americard by Bank of America. It was the first credit card available for middle-class consumers, small businesses, and medium-sized merchants in the USA. It was renamed to “Visa” in 1976 because the company had been expanding internationally, and “Visa” is the only word that sounds the same in most languages around the world.

VisaNet became the world’s first electronic system for processing card payments, and today it remains the world’s largest electronic payments network.

Diners Club created the world’s first charge card in 1950, when businessman and co-founder Frank McNamara forgot his wallet while eating out in New York. To avoid such embarrassing occasions in the future, he created the Diners Club Card, which was accepted at 28 restaurants and 2 hotels. The club grew to 10,000 members in its first year alone. Later, Diners Club would begin issuing credit cards as well, which could carry a balance and therefore did not have to be repaid in full every month, unlike charge cards.


Source: Diners Club International

Should you choose Visa or Diners Club?

Back to the main question – which provider is best, Visa or Diners Club? For the vast majority, it will depend on how you use your card. Visa is accepted in more places, so it would be ideal for those who choose a credit card for convenience.

It’s not unusual to see some people with several credit cards in their wallets, one a Visa and the other a Diners Club or AMEX card, and a MasterCard for good measure. The thinking behind this is that if you were in the unusual position of finding a location that accepts one card but not another, you would still have a payment option. Some people also like to take advantage of exclusive offers from both card types.

But you don’t just get a credit card for the convenience – you also need to check the interest rate and fees on the card, the balance transfer deals available, or the rewards program on offer.

At the end of the day, much more depends on the bank that gave you the card, rather than on the type of card it is. Use Canstar’s credit card selector to compare more than 210 credit cards using our expert star ratings to help you choose a credit card based on interest rates, card features, rewards programs, and value for money.

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