American Express vs. Discover Card

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Difference between American Express and Discover Card

American Express and Discover aren't as aggressively marketed as Visa and MasterCard, although they definitely have their market share of users. With a host of features that make them worthy of consideration, and cash back programs that make them even more attractive, we thought a comparison between the two seems only proper.

American Express
Discover Card


American Express is the name of a credit card issued by the American Express Company or AmEx. In addition to its credit card–which the company is best known for–AmEx also issues charge cards and traveler's checks. At present, American Express credit cards are involved in 24% of the entire volume of credit card transactions in the United States, making it one of the biggest credit cards in the country.

Discover is a credit card issued mainly in the United States that was originally launched by Sears in 1985. It was later passed to the ownership of Dean Witter, and later, Morgan Stanley, until it achieved independent status in 2007.


American Express has something of a niche reputation among the other credit cards, partly because of its reputation as a "charge card". These cards allow you to make purchases, although you will have it pay them off in full at the end of every month. While this may have been true at the start of the company’s service, American Express has since begun to offer different types of credit cards. Nevertheless, the present economic crisis hasn't left the company unscathed, and American Express has recently scaled back its focus to its charge card model, a move that is expected to reinforce the credit cards’ exclusive niche.

Discover for its part has begun to branch out of its own payment network by forging partnerships with other banks. The company was one of the first to offer cash back bonuses based on purchases, a then-unique concept that was a massive hit. Although the promotion earned Discover a huge customer base, it remained like American Express, a niche card that is somehow not as widely accepted as Visa and MasterCard.

Cash Back Programs

American Express actually offers a pretty good cash back program, although the one offered by Discover is just a little bit more enticing. The credit card offers low interest rates on first time purchases and balance transfers, and it is a lot easier to get account access online. In most cases, you could get anywhere from 1% to 1.5% on your purchases with American Express.

In addition to its policy of no annual fees, Discover credit cards are made more appealing with its cash back program, which is arguably the best of its kind. This generous program gets you as much as 5% cash back on purchases in a wide variety of popular and commonly used categories.

Similarities and Differences

American Express

  • A credit card issued by the American Express Company
  • Has a niche reputation as a "charge card"


  • A credit card originally launched by Sears in 1985
  • One of the first to offer cash back bonuses based on purchases

American Express and Discover Video

Which card gives more cashback?
  • American Express
  • Discover Card

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