How Can I Accept American Express Cards?

Each merchant account provider has what they call a default set of credit card brands they process. Most providers process Visa and MasterCard transactions, and many can also process Discover Card transactions. But it’s not common to find a merchant account provider who includes American Express transactions as part of their default set.

You have three choices if you want to be able to accept the American Express brand of credit cards as payment for your products or service:

1. Go directly to American Express and apply for their dedicated merchant account, and process all your American Express transactions directly through them.

2. When you’re looking for a merchant account provider, be sure to ask if they support American Express transactions as part of their default set. Some providers do, some providers don’t, and some providers will handle the application process to add American Express processing to your account with them.

3. Apply for a merchant account from American Express, then add that account number to your present merchant services account.

American Express sets their own transaction fees and, with little exception, these fees are the same for all credit card processors. If a merchant provider claims they can negotiate a rate with American Express, they are misleading you. Even if you choose to attach your American Express account to your current merchant provider account, you can expect a separate billing statement each month from American Express.

Which bring us to the question…

Why Do Merchants Choose Not To Accept AmEx?

The answer that always comes back is that American Express transaction processing fees are higher than any of the other credit card companies.

Yes, American Express rates are higher. But before you decide not to accept AmEx at your place of business, you need to look at the bigger picture. There are actually some real positives to having an American Express merchant provider account:

1. American Express does not tie you down to a long term service contract.

2. There is no early termination fee for canceling your account.

3. Most AmEx merchant accounts do not have an additional monthly fee, annual fee or monthly minimum fee. This is a big offset to the higher processing rates.

4.American Express offers a small business plan with a monthly flat rate fee for based on sales volume.

When you’re comparing credit card processing rates and fees, keep these two thoughts in mind:

There’s no monthly fee for your account when you do your processing directly through American Express. So what do you have to lose?

American Express has branded itself as the premium credit card network. Their advertising is geared to an affluent demographic and to business people. These cardholders tend to make larger, and more frequent purchases. Is this a market demographic your business can afford to overlook?

When you add these two factors into the total equation, you just may find that accepting American Express has its benefits.