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How Does LendingTree Get Paid?
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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.

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Why Isn’t American Express Accepted Everywhere?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

If you have an American Express credit card, you may have been in the awkward situation where you go to use your card to pay but the merchant said it couldn’t accept it. While that may not happen regularly, it can create issues if an Amex card is the only form of payment you typically carry.

Here’s a look at why Amex isn’t accepted everywhere, as well as which cards from different networks have wider acceptance.

Why don’t some merchants accept Amex cards?

It’s a pretty simple answer: to save money. Amex cards charge the highest merchant processing fees of any network up to 3.30% per transaction. Since the fees are higher, merchants (especially small businesses) may shy away from accepting Amex cards because the high fees cut into their profits.

To put Amex’s merchant processing fees in perspective, here’s a comparison of how it stacked up to other issuers such as Visa, Mastercard and Discover in 2017:

Average merchant processing fee by card network
Network Average Merchant Fee
American Express 1.58% – 3.30%
Visa/Mastercard 1.29% – 2.64%
Discover 1.53% – 2.53%

Last year, the average merchant processing fees totaled 2.20% for American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Discover. Amex came in with the highest fee at 2.33%. For businesses, the higher fees Amex charges can add up and cut into profits.

What are merchant processing fees?

Merchant processing fees (aka swipe fees, merchant fees or interchange fees) are the costs merchants incur when you use a credit card to make a purchase. Each time your card is swiped, inserted, tapped or manually inputted, the merchant is charged a fee that is a percentage of your total purchase.

This fee is set by the networks — American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Discover — and often varies by merchant because of several factors, including industry, transaction type and what type of card you hold.

For example, Visa charges different fees for its different types of cards — Visa Signature®, Visa Infinite® and Traditional Rewards, as well as whether the transaction was “retail key entry,” “card not present” or “e-commerce,” among other reasons.

Why are Amex’s merchant processing fees so high?

The reason Amex charges high merchant fees can be linked to the enhanced benefit cardholders receive from its cards. Amex is known for offering premium rewards and value, and Amex cardholders tend to spend more money as a result.

Specifically, an Amex representative stated that its cardholders tend to spend an average of more than three times the amount of non-Amex cardholders. Therefore, transactions made with Amex cards can be more profitable for merchants, compared to transactions from other cards.

It’s also key to note that Amex’s merchant processing fees have declined over the years. This can be attributed to various strategic efforts, including reaching parity in the U.S., a representative stated.

Several years ago, Amex mentioned a goal of reaching equal merchant acceptance with Visa and Mastercard in the U.S. by 2019, and it is making good progress on that goal. Nilson Report data showed Amex has expanded the number of merchant locations from 6.4 million in 2013 to 9 million in 2017. And Amex data showed that within the last 12 months, it added 1.5 million new U.S. locations accepting its cards.

A wider merchant acceptance can help both consumers and merchants. Consumers will be able to use their Amex cards at more U.S. locations, and merchants can benefit from lower merchant processing fees.

Keep alternative payment options handy

Since Amex cards aren’t accepted everywhere, it’s a good idea to keep a card backed by another network, such as Visa or Mastercard, in your wallet. We don’t recommend carrying a Discover card as your backup since it also has limited acceptance.

Here are some cards you can carry as a backup:

| Disclosures
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
on Citibank's secure site
N/A
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
$0
Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Only Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back. Intro APR does not apply to purchases.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).
660 850

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.

| Disclosures
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
on Chase's secure site
N/A
18.49% - 25.49% Variable
$550
5x points on flights and 10x points on hotels and car rentals
  • New Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself BackSM, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
750 850

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.

| Disclosures
Capital One Spark Cash Plus
Capital One Spark Cash Plus
on Capital One's secure site
N/A
N/A
$150
2% Cash Back on every purchase; 5% Cash Back on hotels and
  • Earn up to a $1,000 cash bonus; $500 once you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months, and $500 once you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase, everywhere—with no limits or category restrictions
  • Comes with no preset spending limit, so it can adapt to your needs based on your spending behavior, payment history and credit profile
  • Earn an annual $200 cash bonus every year you spend $200,000 or more
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • Add employee cards for free, and earn unlimited 2% cash back from their purchases
  • $150 annual fee
  • Spark Cash Plus has no APR because your balance is due in full every month
0 0

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.


If you don’t have an Amex card and are considering opening one, here are our top picks for various categories:

| 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 100,000 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®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to 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.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
720 850

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.


| Disclosures
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
on American Express's secure site
Terms Apply
0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening
15.49% - 23.49% Variable
No annual fee
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you make $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. Cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
  • From workflow to inventory to floor plans, your business is constantly changing. That’s why you’ve got the power to spend beyond your credit limit with Expanded Buying Power.
  • Just remember, 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, 15.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
  • No Annual Fee
  • Terms Apply
680 850

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.

To see rates & fees for American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card please click here.

The information related to The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been independently collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.