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  • Writer's picture100 Command

Just Say Yes to Amex!

American Express reports acceptance at 99% of all locations where credit cards are accepted...and yet it still feels like there are still far too many retailers, restaurants, and small businesses that don't accept Amex credit card payments.

Amex charges a higher rate for processing than most other credit cards. For a massive, global organization, that small percentage point (or even fractional percentage point in many cases) may actually add up to a meaningful amount of money on paper...but they aren't the ones saying no to's still the Mom and Pop shops that lead the pack in Amex avoidance. In those instances, the end result is typically more one of customer annoyance if anything.

100 Command's own Kristen Carroll was in Provincetown, MA this past weekend, and her Amex was rejected at three separate locations over the course of two days, finding an Amex rejection rate of about 50%. Provincetown is typically the land of acceptance and inclusion, but this openness clearly does not extend to American Express cardholders. <wink>

In fairness, #Provincetown is a community that has long enjoyed leveraging inconvenience as a support beam to their individuality. Just try to use #DoorDash, #Instacart, or many other creature comforts many of us are dependent upon in our modern lives. Provincetown is a magical land that serves as a muse to creativity, a stage for unabashed self-expression, and a backdrop to some serious earthly beauty. When you're the belle of the ball, you can make 'em work for it. We get it.

But how does accepting #Amex impact most businesses? The short answer? Very little. The increased fees for most businesses are negligible. As with all costs of doing business, they merely need to be factored into the cost of overhead when it comes to pricing. Kind of a simple fix, no? (If accepting Amex creates a .5% difference in your transactions, for example, and Amex users make up 10% of your potential clients - also for example, then an increase of .05% to your costs would make it a wash. Negligible.) See what we mean?

So how does *not* accepting Amex impact most businesses? Also, likely very little. However, let's think about who your Amex users are. #AmericanExpress is typically a more difficult card to attain, so the average user likely has better credit than your other buyers. However, with better credit typically comes greater spending capacity, even if just because logically those with more stable finances are typically more likely to have a higher credit score because they can simply afford to pay their bills on time and have a safer debt:income ratio.

If you're selling high value items, you're likely already accepting Amex. However, if you're a retailer or restaurant with a lower average purchase price than a local art gallery, you can still miss out by not accepting Amex. As you've likely found, Amex holders have other cards available to them, and they are also aware that there are still places that don't accept Amex, so it's not always a major shock or disruption to have to use a different card.

The question is: what are the longer-term implications?

Since Amex offers such strong points programs, they have successful inspired great loyalty from their users. If an Amex cardholder has had one purchase thwarted by your Amex restriction, they will likely still proceed with that purchase. However, will they be less inclined to visit your establishment in the future? Probably.

By not accepting Amex, you're sending the message to your customers, clients, and guests saying that your needs supersede theirs. It's not the same thing as a cash-only business, but it's reminiscent. A cash-only business tells most buyers that you probably don't care about inconveniencing your patrons, you likely don't report your full income for taxation purposes, and there perhaps are other questionable activities that have led to your decision to only accept cash - especially in today's world where people under 35 don't even know that money comes in paper form.

When it comes to accepting Amex, be like #Nike and JUST DO IT!

Nike accepts Amex too. ;)

100 Command is not remotely incentivized by American Express to endorse the acceptance of their card. We think it's annoying that they charge more than other processing fees as well. However, when you look at their theft prevention, 3X higher annual credit card spends to other cards, as well as the incentives they offer merchants as well as card holders, it just makes sense.

Need help analyzing your credit card processing fees to make sure your processes and agreements best suit the needs of your business? Chat with one of our team members for a complimentary review! We're here to help you make more money and keep more of the money you make.

That's how we keep it 100!


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