Information on Merchant Accounts,
Ecommerce and Credit Card Processing

August 1st, 2006 by Jamie Estep

Some businesses should always accept American Express.

Filed in: Amex / Discover, Merchant Accounts | 8 comments

American express is the 3rd most widely used credit card in the US. Depending on who your customers are, not accepting American Express may be a very poor business decision.

A typical retail business’s credit card acceptance percentages will look something like:
Visa – 60%
MasterCard – 25%
American Express – 10%
Discover – 5%

10% for Amex is not a huge number, especially considering that the majority of Amex users also have a Visa or MasterCard. Amex is more expensive than Visa and MasterCard, and businesses often choose not to accept it.

When we look at businesses that sell in areas where there are a lot of business professionals, or they cater to other businesses (B2B), we see Amex percentage go up drastically. Amex has a very strong business card program that many businesses use. Something as simple as having a location near a major business center, can have a huge increase on the amount of people that want to pay with American Express.

For a moderately B2B company, the credit card usage looks more like:
Visa: 45%
MasterCard: 25%
American Express: 25%
Discover: 5%

True B2B companies will see a very large increase in Amex sales, and these can be as high as 50% or more.

Even though your customers may have a Visa or MasterCard, you may lose them as a customer if you don’t accept Amex. Businesses that take their clients out want to pay with their business card. The same thing goes for purchasing office supplies, equipment, computers, paper, food, or anything else that could be considered a business related expense. If you don’t take Amex, the people wanting to use their Amex business card will find someone else who does.

Turning down sales because they cost a little bit more, doesn’t save money because those people are no longer spending money with you.

8 Responses to “Some businesses should always accept American Express.”

  1. eTechSupport August 3, 2006 at 7:22 am

    As a merchant Its mportant to make sure about your payment processor that they accept major CC and also Master/ATM/Debit card otherwise you may loose sales.

  2. jestep August 3, 2006 at 7:55 am

    This is absolutely true. The main point was that businesses that don’t accept Amex for whatever reason could be loosing customers because of it. Visa and Mastercard still make up the vast majority of credit cards, so it should be assumed that accepting them is absolutely necessary.

  3. tigerincanada August 7, 2006 at 6:55 pm

    Unlike Visa and Mastercard, Amex doesn’t let you process in the cardholder’s home currency – you must accept only the currency of the country in which your office is located. This is downright inconvenient for the customer (who must accept exchange rate uncertainty) and unfortunate for the merchant, who can not relieve the customer of exchange rate uncertainty and explain to people who enter an Amex card number why their transaction currency has been changed.

  4. jestep August 21, 2006 at 3:34 pm


    That’s a good point. I help businesses in the US so much more than other countries, or currencies, that I didn’t even know about this inconvenience. I can completely see how a customer could be very confused by the merchant calculating an exchange on the spot.

    One of the things that American banks do have with Visa/MC is a forex fee. Technically, by performing the exchange you are saving a customer a few bucks on a transaction, although they may never know it.

    Either way, it seems like Amex would have come up with a better solution for this situation.

  5. MillionAccounts.Com September 2, 2006 at 11:37 pm

    Let me Add…

    35% of Amex card holders won’t enter a store or web site not displaying their favorite logo, and Amex purchases average 20% more than Visa or Master Card…

  6. optionsmaster December 10, 2006 at 7:07 pm

    I find AMEX inconvient to use.
    With VISA and MC, I haven’t used AMEX since 1999.
    And I haven’t looked back.

  7. Credit Card Processing May 1, 2009 at 9:08 am

    American Express is a great card for merchants that do a lot of business to business credit card processing. The discount rate for American Express does not fluctuate like it does for Visa/MasterCard. If American Express sets your discount rate at 3% no matter what type of card you take (ie. personal, business) it’s always going to be the same %. With Visa and MasterCard the discount rate changes based on the type of card you take. A merchant can pay over 4% on some Visa/MasterCard corporate/business cards.

  8. Robert Azzario August 3, 2009 at 2:23 am

    Due to the EXTREMELY low level of customer service, I will NOT accept, nor deal with Amex. (and I do not carry the card) The commercials they run are highly deceiving.