Diners Club International

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Diners Club International
TypeSubsidiary of Discover Financial
FoundedFebruary 8, 1950; 73 years ago (1950-02-08)
FounderFrank X. McNamara
Ralph Schneider
Matty Simmons
Alfred S. Bloomingdale
Area served
Key people
Eduardo Tobon
(President & CEO)[1]
ProductsCharge and Credit cards
ParentDiscover Financial (Global)
Bank of Montreal (North American operations)[2]

Diners Club International (DCI), founded as Diners Club, is a charge card company owned by Discover Financial Services. Formed in 1950 by Frank X. McNamara, Ralph Schneider, Matty Simmons, and Alfred S. Bloomingdale, it was the first independent payment card company in the world, successfully establishing the financial service of issuing travel and entertainment (T&E) credit cards as a viable business.[3] Diners Club International and its franchises serve individuals from around the world with operations in 59 countries.[4]


Diners Club Card issued in Japan, 2016

The idea for Diners Club was conceived at the Majors Cabin Grill restaurant in New York City in 1949.[5] Diners Club cofounder Frank McNamara was dining with clients and realized he had left his wallet in another suit.[6] His wife paid the bill, and McNamara thought of a multipurpose charge card as a way to avoid similar embarrassments in the future.[7] He discussed the idea with the restaurant owner at the table,[8] and the following day with his lawyer Ralph Schneider and friend Alfred Bloomingdale.[8]

McNamara returned to the same restaurant the following February, in 1950, and paid for his meal using a cardboard charge card and a signature.[9][10] The story became well-known.[7][11] Diners Club official history refers to this meal as "The First Supper", and is credited by historians as the beginnings of contemporary credit.[12] Various versions of the story differ about whether it was a lunch or dinner at which McNamara forgot his wallet,[7] and whether the bill was paid on loan or McNamara waited for his wife to drive his wallet to him.[13][14] Some journalists later credited Alfred Bloomingdale with the idea for Diners Club.[7]

McNamara and his attorney, Ralph Schneider, founded Diners Club International on February 8, 1950,[15] with $1.5 million in initial capital.[7] Alfred Bloomingdale joined briefly, then started a competing venture in California before merging his California-based Dine and Sign with Diners Club.[11] McNamara's original conception was to make a card that could be used as a means of payment in restaurants around New York City; however, he later expanded its usage to other types of establishments, including hotels, car rentals, and flower shops. The company started building its customer base by offering their cards to prominent businessmen. Shortly afterward, Matty Simmons, the company's first press agent, started advertising the card in newspapers, magazines, and by sending personal mail to potential customers.[16] Diners Club International was named for being a "club of diners" that would allow patrons to settle their bill at the end of each month through their credit account.[17] When the card was first introduced, Diners Club listed 27 participating restaurants, and 200 of the founders' friends and acquaintances used it.[17]

Diners Club had 20,000 members by the end of 1950[18] and 42,000 by the end of 1951.[19] At the time, the company was charging participating establishments seven percent and billed cardholders $5 a year.[20] In 1952, McNamara sold his interest in Diners Club to his partners for $200,000.[21] The first plastic Diners Club card was introduced in 1961;[22] by the mid-1960s, Diners Club had 1.3 million cardholders.[23]

Towards the end of the 1960s, Diners Club faced competition from banks that issued revolving credit cards through Bank of America's BankAmericard (later changed its name to Visa), and Interbank Master Charge (renamed to MasterCard). Starting in 1968, the American Oil Company, or Amoco, also launched its own co-branded Diners Club cards called American Torch Club[24] (later renamed Amoco Torch Club), and Sun Oil Company issued its version called Sun Diners Club Card starting in 1977.[25]

In 1981, Citibank, a unit of Citigroup, bought Diners Club International, including the franchisor that holds rights to the Diners Club trademark. Despite this, a majority of the franchises abroad remain independently owned.[26]

In April 2008, Discover Financial and Citigroup announced that Discover was purchasing the Diners Club International network from Citigroup for $165 million. In May 2008, the Federal Trade Commission approved the transaction and it was finalized on July 1, 2008.[27]


International franchise[edit]

In a transaction completed July 1, 2008, Discover Financial Services purchased Diners Club International from Citibank for $165 million.[28] The deal was announced in April 2008 and approved by the U.S. government in May 2008. By merging the North American Discover Network with the international Diners Club Network, Discover created a global payment processing system. Discover Bank has no plans to issue Diners Club-branded cards, which continue to be issued by Diners Club International licensees.[26]

In 2011, Discover started incorporating its logo on Diners Club International cards. Several payment processors, like PayPal, can process only new Diners Club International cards, which include the Discover logo,[26] as well as BMO's Diners Club-branded Mastercards issued in North America.


In Argentina, Citibank entered into an agreement to transfer its rights and obligations with Banco Comafi. Since December 16, 2013, Banco Comafi S.A. manage the Diners Club credit card business in Argentina; Thus, Comafi will be the new exclusive representative and, therefore, the only issuer of the card.


In July 1974 Ansett Transport Industries purchased a 50% shareholding in the Australian franchise.[29] In January 1999 Ansett sold its shareholding to Citigroup.[30]

On June 1, 2022, National Australia Bank bought Citigroup's Consumer Banking business in Australia, including the Australian branch of Diners Club.[31] The Diners Club Corporate Card, Citi Mastercard Corporate Executive Companion Card, Diners Club Business Card and the Citi Mastercard Business Companion Card previously marketed under the Citibank brand is now currently marketed under the National Australia Bank (NAB) brand as a result of the above-mentioned acquisition.

On 1 November 2023, Diners Club Australia announced that it was ending personal cards on 31 January 2024 with no transactions possible after that date. All Diners Club personal accounts will close on 30 July 2024.[32]


On November 21, 2018, it was announced that Diners Club International and Brazilian card association Elo were extending their partnership: they launched Elo Diners Club International Cards in Brazil. The cards run via the Discover Global Network, and are accepted at 42 million merchant locations and 2 million ATMs in over 190 countries and territories.[33]

China and Hong Kong[edit]

In September 2017, Diners Club International signed a deal with Allinpay, a Chinese payment provider, to be the exclusive carrier of all the cards that are part of the Discover Global Network. Apart from that, Allinpay set[clarification needed] to increase the card acceptance in Hong Kong, especially by "travel oriented merchants".[34]


Diners Club was the first to introduce credit cards in India. Kali Mody is credited with opening the first Diners franchise in 1961, which started an invitation-only credit card issuance.[35] Its cards have been offered by Citi Bank, followed by HDFC Bank which took over in 2011.

In 2021, the Reserve Bank of India barred the company (along with American Express) from issuing new cards for failing to follow norms about storing data within the country. The ban was lifted later in the year after it complied with the RBI guidelines.[36]


In September 2016, Kazkommertsbank became the official Diners Club card issuer in Kazakhstan. In a statement, managing director of Kazkommertsbank, Nurlan Zhagiparov said, "Our collaboration with Diners Club is another step toward the integration of Kazakhstan into the global economy, which increases the tourism potential in our country."[37]

Korea, South[edit]

In Korea, Diners Club started its business around the 1980s. However, in 1993, Citibank Korea sold Diners Club Korea to Daewoo Group, and after the acquisition by Daewoo Group, the parent company of Daewoo Motors, Diners Club Korea ran a successful business with sales of over 400 billion won. Diners Club Korea went through strict card issuance screening and solidified its position as a premium credit card in Korea. The number of Diners Club member stores increased more than tenfold, and the number of members reached hundreds of thousands, and the business was successful. However, Daewoo Group, which had acquired Diners Club, sold Diners Club Korea to Hyundai Motor Company after experiencing financial difficulties and starting a workout. Later, Diners Club Korea's name was changed to Hyundai Card, and Hyundai Motor Company began issuing Visa and MasterCard credit cards other than Diners Club to start a credit card business in earnest. Hyundai Card continued to maintain the exclusive license of Diners Club, but stopped issuing the card and discontinued the license contract with Diners Club because there was no benefit compared to the license fee. As a result, Hyundai Card was able to issue American Express cards and signed an exclusive license for American Express Card individual cards in Korea. Since then, Diners Club has signed a license contract with Korean credit card companies BC Card and Woori Card to issue Diners Club cards in Korea. In addition, Diners Club, which previously used Hyundai Card's payment network, began using BC Card's payment network in 2018. BC Card is a credit card company established by various Korean banks such as Citibank Korea and Woori Bank. Because it has contracts with almost all stores in Korea, Diners Club cards can be used at almost all stores and restaurants in Korea.[38]

Nordic franchise[edit]

In the Nordic countries, the franchisee was SEB Kort AB, a subsidiary of the Swedish bank Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken.[39] The franchisee closed the service May 31, 2019, citing increased competition and regulatory pressure in the payment card market, and the card is no longer issued in the Nordic countries.[39]

North American franchise[edit]

MasterCard alliance[edit]

In 2004, Diners Club announced an agreement with Mastercard.[citation needed] Since 2004, all Diners Club cards issued in the United States and Canada (by Citibank until 2009,[citation needed] by BMO since) feature a Mastercard logo and 16-digit account number on the front and can be used wherever Mastercard is accepted. They are processed through the Mastercard network.

Currently, as of October 2023, BMO is not accepting new applications for Diners Club cards, as improvements are being made to the application process, while existing card members continue to be served.[40]

Initially, cards from other countries continued to bear a 14-digit account number on the front, with the Mastercard logo on the back. However, since the takeover of Diners Club International by Discover Financial Services, international cards have had the Discover logo on the back and the Diners Club International network is part of the Discover network. Since then, the only connection between Diners Club in North America and Diners Club International is BMO's continuous licensed use of the Diners Club brands, including Carte Blanche, on Mastercard credit cards.

Carte Blanche[edit]

Carte Blanche began in 1958 when the Hilton Hotels travel & entertainment card was renamed. Hilton sold Carte Blanche to First National City Bank in 1966. Regulatory challenges forced First National City Bank to sell Carte Blanche to Avco in 1968. In 1978, Citicorp (parent company of First National City Bank which was renamed Citibank) reacquired Carte Blanche without regulatory opposition.[41][42] The 1960s- and 1970s-era Carte Blanche cards were considered more prestigious worldwide than their competition, the American Express and Diners Club cards, though its small cardmember base hindered its success. In 1981, Citicorp acquired the Diners Club card, and by the mid-1990s the Carte Blanche card was being phased out in favor of Diners Club. Parent company Citigroup was formed in 1998 with the merger of Citicorp and the Travelers Group. Citigroup issued a premium Diners Club card in 2000, naming it the Diners Club Carte Blanche card. It was an upper-level charge card on par with the American Express Platinum Card.

The Carte Blanche card in North America, now a branded Mastercard issued by BMO under its Diners Club International brand license, carried a US$300 annual fee as of April 2015 and offers an extensive menu of perks.[43]


Diners Club expanded its customer base in Canada by acquiring the enRoute credit card from Air Canada in 1992. It marketed the card under the combined name for a period of time as the "Diners Club/enRoute Card".[44] The enRoute business was valued at over $300 million at the time of acquisition.

Acquisition by BMO[edit]

In November 2009, Citibank announced that Diners Club International's North American franchise had been sold to Bank of Montreal (BMO). The deal gives BMO exclusive rights to issue Diners cards in the U.S. and Canada. At the time, BMO said the Diners Club fits well with its existing commercial card business, adding that, commercial cards are one of the fastest-growing segments in the credit card business.[45][2]


In June 2016, Security Bank through its credit card division SB Cards Corporation (formerly Security Diners International Corporation) sold Diners Club's exclusive rights in the Philippines to its rival, BDO Unibank[46][47] and in October of the same year, Diners Club International announced that they signed a deal with BDO Unibank to become the exclusive provider of the Diners Club in the Philippines.[48]


In December 2010, Russian Standard Bank and Diners Club International entered into an agreement for settlement of transactions in Russia. Under the agreement, Russian Standard Bank will process settlement transactions of other banks acting as acquirers of Diners Club in Russia.[49]

On March 8, 2022, Discover/Diners Club suspended all operations in Russia due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[50]

Slovenian franchise[edit]

In 2013, Tomaž Lovše, who owned Diners Club Slovenia, was one of three people investigated in Slovenia regarding unpaid debts that his franchise owed to merchants.[51] In May, the Central Bank of Slovenia revoked Diners Club Slovenia's license for payment services, which meant 80,000 local members could not use their card.[52][53] Diners Club International transferred the franchise to a subsidiary of Austria's Erste Bank group, Erste Card Club, and agreed to repay the franchise's debt to merchants.[51][54] An Erste press release in August 2013 stated that Diners Club services were once again available in Slovenia.[55]

South East Asia (Malaysia and Singapore)[edit]

Diners Club International launched its Malaysian and Singaporean franchises in 1960.[56] Its Malaysian franchise was terminated in 2015.[57]

In December 2016, Diners Club International and 2C2P announced in a statement that the latter is a global provider of cards running on Discover Global Network and that it will increase the number of merchants who use the card in the region of South East Asia.[58]

In 2023, the Diners Club Singaporean franchise (known as DCS Card Centre) issued the first UnionPay-branded Diners Club card, known as the DCS Ultimate Platinum Card. At a currently unknown date, the Diners Club Singaporean franchise launched a lower-end version of the DCS Ultimate Platinum Card called the DCS Lite Card. It came bundled with a virtual account and had a credit limit of 100 Singapore dollars. Customers can increase the spend limit on the DCS Lite Card by transferring funds into the card's virtual account. At the end of the month, the total amount spent on the Card would be auto debited from the virtual account. Both the DCS Ultimate Platinum Card and the DCS Lite Card were also the first Diners Club cards to be numberless cards. UPDATE: The DCS Lite Card has been rebranded as the DCS D’Lite Card.

Swiss, Austrian and German franchise[edit]

In a transaction that closed on August 6, 2010, Citibank sold the Swiss and German franchises to a private investment group headed by Anthony J. Helbling.[59] The German Diners Club cards are issued by the Austrian DC Bank AG, which now issues the cards for Austria and Germany.


Diners Club was brought to Turkey by Koç Holding for the first time in 1968 and been issued for a while.[60] After a couple years without being distributed in Turkey, it was brought back to the country in 2016 by Alternatif Bank and as of September 2023, it is still being distributed by Alternatif Bank. [61][62] Since 2019, the Diners Club cards in Turkey are being issued co-branded with TROY within a card reciprocal agreement, thus the acceptance of Diners Club and Discovery cards throughout Turkey has been increased to full coverage. This agreement also provides TROY cards to be accepted on Discover/Diners Club network worldwide.[63]

United Arab Emirates[edit]

Diners Club UAE, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan is owned and operated by Network International subsidiary of Emirates Bank.[64][65]

United Kingdom and Ireland franchise[edit]

On August 7, 2012, Citigroup announced the sale of its Diners Club franchise in the United Kingdom and Ireland to Affiniture Cards, a private investor group.[66]


On January 23, 2018, it was announced that Vietinbank had entered into a partnership with Diners Club International to be the exclusive issuer of Diners Club cards (both standard and contactless) in Vietnam.[67]

Business development and contracts[edit]

Australian government travel services[edit]

In 2012 as part of a financial reform program started the previous year to address government spending by public servants, the Australian government appointed Diners Club as the sole provider of credit cards for government travel services. Under the arrangement, Diners Club provided charge cards as travel cards to public servants (i.e. Defence Travel Card). Diners Club was also to supply an updated Expense Management System (EMS), to government agencies without one, or who wanted to upgrade their existing system. The new EMS would provide "timely, accurate and reliable” transactional data feeds for all card expenditure to agency finance or expense systems, allowing them to understand the nature of their travel expenditure, due to the “comprehensive data” that would be provided through the system from travel supplies.[68][69][70][71] Diners Club now provides Diners Club Travel Cards to government public servants with a companion Mastercard to increase the number of locations that accept the card, to reduce cash advance withdrawals of travels allowances.[72]

In popular culture[edit]

In 1963, the film The Man from the Diners' Club was released,[73] and the Ideal Toy Company created the board game titled The Diners' Club Credit Card Game.[74][75]

In 1967, the film How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was released, incorporating the song Brotherhood of Man including the lyrics, "And other men may carry cards, as members of the Diners".

The Australian band Client Liaison feature Diners Club cards and logos in several of their retro-themed music videos.[76]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]