How can I buy with Discover when it's not accepted?
May 1, 2011 9:44 AM   Subscribe

How can I use my Discover Card (indirectly) to make online purchases on websites that don't accept Discover Card?

So I need to buy an airline ticket. The only problem I've encountered is that this ticket is on a non-US airline, and the airline's website doesn't accept Discover. Not that I'm terribly surprised, of course -- I've never seen Discover accepted outside of the US. But I've got a nice loyalty points program with my credit card (they give me points for every purchase I make) and I'd like to earn points for this purchase if at all possible.

I tried looking on other US-based travel sites (Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, etc.), and while I found the same flight at a similar price, those tickets are strictly nonrefundable, while the ticket on the airline's own website is generously refundable. Refundability is absolutely essential for my purposes, so my hands are tied on that end.

I remember a few years back you could get a virtual credit card number through Paypal. I was planning to do this here, and then use my Discover card to pay off the Paypal bill, but it seems that Paypal's virtual credit card service has since shut down.

I also thought about buying a Visa/Mastercard/AMEX gift card with my Discover card, and using that to buy the ticket. But the gift card limits I've seen are pretty low, and this ticket is $1,400.

tl;dr If anyone has ideas on how I can indirectly use my Discover card to buy things online from places that don't accept Discover, I'd certainly be grateful for the assistance.
posted by texano to Shopping (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What's the airline? You might try calling a US office of the international airline. You might take Discover in the US even if their website doesn't. You could also do something like get a cash advance from your Discover and use that to write a check or something, if you could mail the check in the US.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:50 AM on May 1, 2011

Travel agent that will accept Discover? I know we still have a half dozen travel agents here in my small town, so I imagine that there's plenty in larger markets.
posted by SpecialK at 9:51 AM on May 1, 2011

Will it work if you add your Discover card to your Paypal account? Paypal accepts Discover as a regular payment source, so I don't see why it wouldn't work.
posted by yb2006shasta at 9:55 AM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

To answer yb2006shasta's comment, the airline doesn't accept Paypal as payment. Although if there's a way to indirectly purchase the ticket with Paypal, that could work also (and I'd fund it with my Discover card).
posted by texano at 10:08 AM on May 1, 2011

I don't know Discover's rules, but one doesn't usually get points for buying gift cards, so check the fine print there.
posted by rokusan at 10:26 AM on May 1, 2011

I have a paypal debit card, but that may take too long for you to get. I use Amex as backup funding for paypal so I just keep a zero balance and use paypal debit when I run across non amex merchants.
posted by thilmony at 10:33 AM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is the airline part of an alliance, or do they have a codeshare agreement with an airline in the US? If so, you can probably book the same ticket with the same clauses, but billed through the american airline.
posted by t_dubs at 10:51 AM on May 1, 2011

I think you're looking for the thing that every flyertalker is looking for: a way to get points using a card that is not an acceptable form of payment. Sadly, I don't think there's a way to do this, because most credit cards do not give reward points on the purchase of gift certificates or cash advances. Otherwise people would just get a cheque/cash advance and pay their rent/taxes/everything with it and travel the world for free. Believe me, I've spent a long time thinking about this. I will keep an eye on this thread in case someone has a solution though!
posted by reformedjerk at 12:09 PM on May 1, 2011

I've never seen Discover accepted outside of the US.

Discover Card is accepted in some countries outside the US. Discover bought Diners Club a few years ago, and it seems they are gradually expanding Discover Card acceptance via the Diners Club international network.
posted by iviken at 3:08 AM on May 2, 2011

Maybe flyertalk has covered this, so they would know better than me - but maybe you get a check from Discover, the kind where they send you a blank check (convenience check, I think is the term) and you write it in and then give it to the airline (read them the numbers over the phone?).

I am not positive you get points for that though - so call and ask. I'd expect a transaction fee, but if you ask really nicely they might waive it for this one purchase. I think convenience check purchases go at the interest rate of cash advances, so you'd want to pay it off immediately - the day you use it (I'd even try to pay the money the day before so you have a credit balance, I'm not sure you could do it with that large an amount though).
posted by mrs. taters at 11:03 AM on May 2, 2011

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