Frequently Asked Questions
What is OptBlue® and how does it work?
With OptBlue, American Express has changed the way we do business. Third-party processors sign a contract directly with eligible businesses to enable American Express® Card acceptance. The program also acts as an all-in-one solution with one statement, one deposit and one servicing contact for all the major card brands you accept. That means less paperwork and a simplified back-end process.
Am I eligible to accept American Express Cards through OptBlue?
U.S. small businesses that have an estimated American Express charge volume of less than $1MM per year can be eligible to accept through OptBlue. Certain industry and franchise restrictions apply. To learn more and sign up, you can call a participating processor. If your business is not eligible for OptBlue or is interested in accepting American Express Cards directly with American Express, please call 855-894-6570.
Why do some businesses choose not to accept American Express?
When it comes to accepting credit cards, some businesses believe that American Express is always more expensive, and they believe they can get a better rate from other card brands. However, with OptBlue®, the rate is set by the processor (not American Express). So you could get a rate that’s better than you’ve been offered before.
How much does American Express charge businesses for OptBlue acceptance?
Since American Express no longer sets the rates, you can shop around for a processor that could offer a better rate for your business. View the list of participating processors here. When you reach out to the processor, they will be able to tell you your rate for American Express Card acceptance.
By accepting American Express Cards through OptBlue, you are accepting credit cards through your processor. Your processor now sets your rate for American Express Card acceptance, which means you could get a better rate than you expect.
You can contact your processor directly for more information about your rate.
Not many people ask to use American Express Cards. Is there really a demand?
Do you have signage posted to let Card Members know they can use their Card at your business? We’ve heard testimonials from Card Members who specifically look for that American Express Card logo in the window; if they don’t see it, they might not walk in the door of your establishment. In fact, according to an internet survey of Card Members who reported using an American Express Card to make purchases at small businesses in the 3 months prior to the survey, 61% of consumers surveyed report they’re more likely to make a purchase from a small business when they see on the storefront that their payment method is accepted.1
Why do I need to take American Express Cards if people are using other card brands?
Keeping customers happy is the key to keeping customers. Our Card Members have our Card for a reason—whether it’s the rewards or customer service—so we want to ensure that they can use their Card wherever they want to shop.
At the same time, accepting their card of choice may help you grow your business. Data from the February 2018 Nilson Report supports that American Express Card Members are valuable customers who tend to spend more and could bring new revenue to your business. We found that, on average, the annual spend of an American Express Card Member is 3.1X that of non–Card Members2 and the transaction size of an American Express Card Member is 1.8X that of non–Card Members.3
Where is American Express accepted in the U.S.?
More and more businesses are welcoming American Express Cards. Over 1.5MM more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express Cards in 2017.4 To learn more about acceptance, you can contact us.
Why does it seem like American Express always sides with the customer when there’s a dispute?
We understand that resolving disputes hasn’t always been easy. We have heard this from businesses before, and because of this feedback, American Express has made many policy enhancements that will result in simpler disputes management for you and fewer Chargebacks. For example, we have limited the number of times a dispute can be raised on the same charge to two times and reduced the number of low-dollar Chargebacks you’ll see. To read about these changes in detail, you can download the Disputes Improvement Brochure.
What resources are available to American Express–accepting merchants?
American Express cares about businesses and wants them to succeed, so we invest in traffic drivers like these:
- Merchant Recommendations. We know attracting more customers is important to you—so it's important to us as well. That's why we recommend small businesses like yours in our emails to Card Members, in their online accounts and within search results on the Shop Small® Map. In 2017, over 15 million people received recommendations on where to shop.5
- Free American Express signage. Show potential customers you want their business by displaying signage that could help drive more sales. In 2017, we conducted an internet survey of consumers who reported having recently made purchases using American Express or other payment methods at small businesses and that they typically look on the storefront to see if their payment method is accepted when making such purchases. 61% of consumers surveyed report they’re more likely to make a purchase from a small business when they see on the storefront that their payment method is accepted.1
1. American Express–commissioned internet panel survey conducted in April 2017 based on purchases made at small businesses in the 3 months prior to the survey. “Consumers surveyed” consists of survey respondents who typically look on the front door or front window to see whether or not their payment method is accepted when making purchases from small businesses and who either (1) reported that they have an American Express Card and used that card to make purchases at small businesses in the prior 3 months; or (2) reported that they do not have an American Express Card and used Visa, MasterCard, a debit card, or payment services to make purchases at small businesses in the prior 3 months.
2. Nilson Report #1,103, February 2018. Spend per card derived from U.S. year-end purchase volume divided by year-end cards in force (CIF), not from individual consumer-level data. CIF represents the number of cards issued and outstanding with cardholders. Average non–American Express spend per card includes Visa, MasterCard and Discover credit and charge card volume and CIF and excludes debit volume and CIF.
3. Nilson Report #1,103, February 2018. Transaction Size derived from U.S. year-end purchase volume divided by year-end purchase transactions, not from individual consumer-level data. Average non–American Express transaction size includes Visa, MasterCard and Discover credit and charge cards and excludes debit volume and transactions.
4. Based on internal comparison of American Express small merchant locations in December 2016 to American Express small merchant locations in December 2017.
5. Based on an analysis of American Express merchant recommendations in 2017.