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How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appears on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

Where is American Express Accepted?

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American Express is currently accepted by 99% of U.S. merchants that accept credit cards, according to a 2022 issue of Nilson Report. However, if you’re traveling abroad or shopping at a small business, your American Express card is less likely to be accepted than a Visa or Mastercard. That’s because it typically costs businesses more to accept American Express payments.

We’ve rounded up which retailers, restaurants, countries and more accept American Express — and which ones don’t — so you can be prepared wherever you go.

Where is American Express accepted?

American Express is accepted at most large retailers, grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations in the U.S., including the following:

RetailersGrocery storesRestaurantsGas stations
  • Walmart
  • Amazon
  • Dollar General
  • Sam's Club
  • Target
  • Macy's
  • Kohl's
  • Dillard's
  • Bloomingdale's
  • Whole Foods
  • Trader Joe's
  • Safeway
  • Winn-Dixie
  • ALDI
  • Publix
  • Meijer
  • Chili's
  • McDonald's
  • Taco Bell
  • Wendy's
  • Chipotle
  • Starbucks
  • Panera
  • Papa John's
  • Mobil
  • Exxon
  • Shell
  • Hess
  • Gulf
  • Murphy USA
  • BP

Small businesses in the U.S. may be a hit or a miss. To make sure a small business accepts American Express prior to shopping there, check out this interactive map of small businesses where American Express cards are accepted.

Where is American Express not accepted?

One major retailer that doesn’t accept American Express is Costco. Additionally, some small businesses may not accept American Express, since it tends to charge merchants higher fees than other major payment networks, like Visa and Mastercard.

American Express (and Discover) also tend to be less available outside of the U.S. than Visa and Mastercard. That said, American Express also typically limits earning grocery, streaming service and gas rewards to U.S. merchants. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, for example, lets cardholders earn 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more), 1% Cash Back on other purchases. Terms apply.

Where is American Express accepted?

Using American Express credit cards outside of the U.S. can be difficult compared to other cards.

Here are some countries that don’t accept American Express at all:

  • Sudan
  • Cuba
  • North Korea
  • Russia and Belarus (temporarily)

Aside from exceptions like those, it’s dependent on individual merchants to decide if they want to accept American Express — not countries as a whole.

To be on the safe side, travelers should bring a backup credit card. In the case a merchant doesn’t accept American Express, you’ll be glad to have a Visa or Mastercard on hand.

Why isn’t American Express accepted everywhere?

American Express isn’t accepted everywhere because it costs merchants more in fees than Visa and Mastercard.

What are merchant fees?

Merchant fees are what businesses are required to pay to accept different payment processors. Some fees go toward the payment processing companies (American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Discover) — and some go toward the banks that issue credit cards (Chase, Capital One, Wells Fargo and more).

Here are some of the fees merchants are responsible for:

  • Interchange fees: This fee goes directly to the credit card issuer. It’s usually the largest fee a merchant has to pay is presented as a percentage plus a small cost per transaction. Interchange fees vary depending on factors like the type of business and the transaction size.
  • Discount rate: This is the fee paid by the merchant to the credit card processor to simply accept the card.
  • Assessment fees: This fee is usually smaller than interchange fees and is paid to the credit card network.
  • Voice authorization fees: A merchant is charged a voice authorization fee when they’re required to call a payment processor representative to accept a card payment. This may happen if a merchant’s point of sale (POS) system is unavailable.

    What are American Express’s merchant fees?

    American Express generally has higher merchant fees than its competitors. However, the payment network has a program called OptBlue, which can help small businesses qualify for lower merchant fees.

    Still, American Express interchange fees are a bit higher than its competitors.

    Payment networkStarting interchange fees for consumer credit
    American Express (OptBlue)1.60% + $0.10
    Mastercard0% + $0.10
    Visa1.15% + $0.10
    Discover1.56% + $0.10

    While these may look like small fees, they can quickly add up for business owners — which is why some may want to opt not to accept American Express payments.

    American Express vs. Visa, Mastercard and Discover

    How does American Express match up against other major payment networks? The chart below shows approximately how many U.S. and international merchants each network has available.

    Payment networkInternational merchantsU.S. merchants
    American Express (OptBlue)44 million10.6 million
    Discover48 million10.6 million
    Visa46 million10.7 million
    Mastercard37 million10.7 million

    Source: Nilson Report

    Even though American Express falls behind internationally, it’s still available at over 10 million merchants. So depending on where you’re visiting, your card is probably still worth packing — but bring a backup card just in case.

    Types of American Express credit cards

    American Express offers several types of cards that cater to people with different spending habits and rewards preferences, including the following:

    Luxury travel rewards

    American Express has several travel cards to choose from — but The Platinum Card® from American Express offers the most luxurious benefits for frequent travelers. The downside is its $695 annual fee.

    | Disclosures
    The Platinum Card® from American Express
    The Platinum Card® from American Express
    on American Express's secure site
    Terms Apply
    N/A
    See Pay Over Time APR
    $695
    5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with
    • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
    • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
    • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
    • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
    • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
    • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
    • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
    • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
    • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
    • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
    • $695 annual fee.
    • Terms Apply.
    660 720 850
    Excellent/Good

    How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

    LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appears on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

    To see rates & fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express please click here.

    Dining rewards

    The American Express® Gold Card lets you earn up to $120 per calendar year in dining credits (enrollment required).

    | Disclosures
    American Express® Gold Card
    American Express® Gold Card
    on American Express's secure site
    Terms Apply
    N/A
    19.74%-26.74% Variable
    $250
    Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in
    • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
    • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
    • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
    • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
    • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
    • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
    • Annual Fee is $250.
    • Terms Apply.
    660 720 850
    Excellent/Good

    How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

    LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appears on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

    Cash back on everyday purchases

    The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers a generous cash back rate in popular spending categories, like U.S. supermarkets, U.S. streaming services, U.S. gas stations and transit.

    | Disclosures
    Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
    Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
    on American Express's secure site
    Terms Apply
    0% on purchases for 12 months
    17.74%-28.74% Variable
    $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
    6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year
    • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
    • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
    • Buy Now, Pay Later: Enjoy $0 intro plan fees when you use Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 intro plan fees on plans created during the first 12 months after account opening. Plans created after that will have a monthly plan fee up to 1.33% of each eligible purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.
    • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 17.74% to 28.74%
    • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
    • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
    • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
    • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
    • Thinking about getting The Disney Bundle which includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+? Your decision made easy with $7/month back in the form of a statement credit after you spend $13.99 or more each month on an eligible subscription with your Blue Cash Preferred Card. Enrollment required.
    • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
    • Terms Apply.
    660 720 850
    Excellent/Good

    How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

    LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appears on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

    Business credit card

    The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express is one of the best cards for small business owners for a few reasons. It has no annual fee, a year-long intro APR offer and rewards on everyday business purchases.

    | Disclosures
    The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
    The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
    on American Express's secure site
    Terms Apply
    0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening
    16.99% - 24.99% Variable
    No annual fee
    Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office
    • Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
    • Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
    • You’ve got the power to use your Card beyond its credit limit* with Expanded Buying Power.
    • *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors.
    • 0.0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 16.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors at account opening.
    • No Annual Fee
    • Terms Apply
    660 720 850
    Excellent/Good

    How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

    LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appears on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

    To see rates & fees for The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express please click here.

    Pros and cons of American Express credit cards

    ProsCons

      Plenty of options to choose from, like balance transfers, cash back, travel and business cards

      Renowned for premium travel benefits

      Offers generous rewards and welcome offers on many cards

      Limited acceptance abroad

      Some cards have a high annual fee

      Limited options for people with bad credit

    To see rates & fees for Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express please click here.

    To see rates & fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express please click here.

    To see rates & fees for American Express® Gold Card please click here.

    To see rates & fees for The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express please click here.

Frequently asked questions

No, but it is accepted at most places in the U.S. However, it’s less likely to be accepted by merchants outside of the country than Visa and Mastercard.

No. However, Costco accepts all Visa cards. Costco provides a list of acceptable payment methods in their U.S. warehouses, gas stations and website.

Yes. Square provides a list of all the payment methods it accepts, including American Express.

You don’t have to choose one or the other — you can have both Visa and American Express credit cards. The best credit card for you depends on factors like your credit score, travel frequency, purchases coming up, rewards preferences and more. If you’re a frequent traveler, it may be worth it to have a Visa card on top of your American Express card, since the former is more likely to be accepted abroad.

That depends on what you’re looking for in a credit card. American Express offers a variety of cards, including cash back, rewards and balance transfer cards, that may align with your financial goals and standing.

 

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