Discover Financial Services, Inc. is an American financial services company, which issues the Discover Card and operates the Discover and Pulse networks, and owns Diners Club International. Discover Card is the third largest credit card brand in the United States, when measured by cards in force, with nearly 50 million cardholders.
The Discover Card was originally introduced by Sears in 1985, and was a unit of Dean Witter, which merged with Morgan Stanley in 1997. In 2007, the unit was spun off as an independent, publicly traded company. Today, Discover is headquartered in the Chicago suburb of Riverwoods, Illinois.
On December 21, 2001, Fourth quarter income at Discover card issuer Discover Financial Services Inc. grew 31% to $193 million, compared with $147 million the year before.
On March 5, 2002, the company announced that the Account Center at Discovercard.com had registered over eight million card members, an increase of 61 percent since January 2001. That September, they announced that, as of September 1, Citibank would accept the Discover(R) Card for cash advances at its approximately 450 Financial Centers and more than 2,000 ATM locations nationwide.
In April 2008, Discover Financial and Citigroup announced that Discover was purchasing the Diners Club network from Citigroup for $165 million. In May 2008, the Federal Trade Commission approved the transaction. The deal was completed on July 1, 2008. Discover stated that the Diners Club network, which is a major network outside North America, will be merged with the Discover Network, a major network in North America, creating an international network for Discover Network cards and Diners Club cards. Diners Club cards will continue to be issued by Diners Club International licensees. Discover Bank has no plans on issuing Diners Club branded cards itself.
On September 17, 2010, it was announced that Discover Financial would acquire Citigroup-owned Student Loan Corporation for $30/share. The deal was finalized on December 31.
On June 6, 2012, Tree.com, Inc. completed the sale of substantially all of the operating assets of its Home Loan Center, Inc. business to a wholly owned subsidiary of Discover Financial. In exchange for the assets sold, Discover paid an aggregate of $45.9 million including payments made prior to the closing which were applied to the closing price. On June 12, 2012, Discover began originating mortgages with its launch of Discover Home Loans, offering prime variable- and fixed-rate conventional and FHA home mortgage loans.
Following the 2007-08 financial crisis, Discover received about $1.2 billion in bailout funds under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, also known as TARP. The company announced in 2010 that it had received approval to pay back the funds.
In the United States, Discover, as a card brand, competes primarily with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Unlike Visa and MasterCard, Discover directly issues its cards, through its Discover Bank unit. Discover is the sixth largest credit card issuer in the U.S., when measured by card balances, behind JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Capital One and American Express, and ahead of Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank.
In addition to its card products, Discover also markets savings products, checking accounts, personal loans, student loans, and home equity loans. The company also began offering a Discover Debit card product directly to banks in 2006, through its Pulse interbank network, which Discover acquired in 2004.