Business Wire reports today that credit card holders in Ecuador will soon say “Hola!” to cash back rewards, as Discover Financial Services expands into South America in their first-ever foray into the international market.
Discover Card, the owner of Diners Club International, will issue the cards through Diners Club Ecuador, which is accepted by an impressive 100% of merchants in Ecuador. Diane Offereins, executive vice president of Discover, says that “Discover clearly will benefit from the success of the Diners Club Ecuador franchise, which is a dominant force throughout the country” and also that this development gives Discover a “tremendous opportunity to build its brand globally.”
Diners Club International was the first credit card on the market back in 1950, revolutionizing the way consumers paid for their purchases. Now, through Discover Card, they will be the first credit card to offer a rewards program in Ecuador, where cash back rewards programs are yet to take hold. Beginning with a basic rewards program, cardholders will be able to earn 1% cash back on purchases, and then redeem their bonus for a gift card (at the $20 level) or a statement credit (at the $40 level).
Diners Club Ecuador will have exclusive rights to issue Discover Cards in Ecuador, and will do it through the country`s largest bank, Banco Pichincha. “This agreement gives us the opportunity to expand our financial services product portfolio and introduce consumers in Ecuador to the Discover brand, which has a proven track record of success in the U.S.,” says the president of Diners Club Ecuador, Pablo Salazar.
Discover Card was founded in 1986 and still plays the underdog to larger card issuers like American Express, MasterCard, and Visa, but with this move to expand into the international market, they may be catching up to the big boys. American Express, for example, has long been a player in the international scene, having been the premier issuer of Traveler`s Cheques. MasterCard and Visa are both international companies, with headquarters all over the globe.
Although Discover Card has historically been accepted by fewer merchants than American Express, Visa, and MasterCard, they have been innovators in terms of credit card rewards programs. They were the first to offer a cash back program, leaving other credit card companies scrambling to compete, giving rewards in the form of points and rebates.
Discover and Diners Club are offering a basic version of the Cashback Bonus program to start off in Ecuador, but if it is successful, it’s likely they will expand their rewards program to replicate what they offer here in the United States.
While 1% cash back on purchases is the baseline reward, they now offer up to 5% cash back on select categories of purchases, which rotate seasonally. For example, they may offer 5% cash back on gas and grocery purchases during March, April, and May, and then 5% back on movie and restaurant purchases throughout June, July, and August.
Customers track their cash back rewards on their statements, and redeem their amount earned by choosing whether they would like a check, a statement credit, or a gift card (often for a great amount, from a partnering merchant) once they have reached a certain threshold – typically $20 or $40.
The advent of Discover in Ecuador may herald a new era of international customers demanding more from their credit cards as they get a taste of rewards programs and getting cash back on purchases.