Should My Small Business Take American Express?

December 30, 2015



American Express (or lovingly referred to as AmEx), has been marked as a prestigious credit card for cardholders to have. Cardholders love the offers Amex provides for them, and are eager to use them.
In light of this, there’s nothing more frustrating for a cardholder, then being told by a merchant “We don’t accept American Express.”
It boggles our minds as a merchant service provider the resistance some merchants have towards American Express. There have been times when we were going to close to closing a deal with great rates, and the merchant has demanded we try and remove the ability to take American Express cards.


(credit: startrek)
(credit: startrek)

What is it about American Express makes so many merchants refuse to take it?


There’s misunderstanding going on

American Express has a bad reputation as being “unfriendly to merchants” over the years. Once that misconception happened, many smaller business refused to take the credit card, relying on old information they had heard.
Is this true?
Well, not exactly.
American Express primarily focuses on providing their cardholders with great perks, and being a cardholder centric company. When they first started, they had many perks for their cardholders over Visa or Mastercard.
Which means less attention on merchants, and more unto their cardholders.


It doesn’t mean they hate merchants

American Express does not despise merchants, or particularly try to abuse merchants. They just pay more attention to cardholders.
While they are still a cardholder focused company, but they do not deserve the scorn or rejection.
They mainly receive criticism for two reasons:
1). Higher rates
2). Slower turn-over to get paid


Are these criticisms valid?


Kind of. As in other areas of life, the issue is a bit more complex than yes or no.

Slow turn-over time

There is a bit of truth to this.
When American Express first started, they had their own separate settlement statement that they would send to merchants each month. The reason that American Express would have have a separate statement from Visa and Mastercard is because Visa and Mastercard are owned by the same company.
Before American Express had OptBlue, they did not have next day funding, so if you did have next day funding, then AmEx appeared to take longer, rather if you didn’t have next day funding, it would appear in 2-3 days as normal.


Those rates

“Whereas Visa and MasterCard, according to the Charge Smart blog, impose merchants a per-transaction rate of about 2%, the typical American Express transaction fee is a bit higher at 2.89%. The added revenue for cards like AmEx and Discover goes into investing in things like premium rewards and other card perks” (
So the higher rates are true, compared to Mastercard or Visa, they tend to charge at least 0.89% more.
Let’s be real, that’s not a whole lotta money. You’re not really losing money by taking AmEx.


So should you take AmEx?

Do you have customers that want to use AmEx?
If so, then yes.
Chances are, you’ll have large percent of customers that would like to pay with their AmEx card! So why would you turn away their business?
It’s also possible that many customers would spend more money if they could pay with their American Express cards.


You may lose more money penny pinching by not accepting them

If you’re not willing to pay the extra 0.89%, you’re throwing away a great chance to make additional revenue for your business.
Do your competitors take it?
If they do, you should absolutely take credit cards!
Rejecting a convenient method of payment for a customer away for the sake of 0.89% is ridiculous. Your monthly funds will not increase if you refuse to take payments.


Want to have a processor that will take Amex?

Take a look at our services, and see what others have said.
If you’d like to learn more about what cards our company can process, or would like a free consultation, contact us here.

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