American Express Claims 10MM U.S. Merchant Locations

After launching a major campaign in 2019 to increase merchant acceptance, American Express claims 99% of credit-card accepting merchants in the U.S. can now accept American Express, including almost a million new U.S. locations added to our network in 2019 alone. The Nilson Report, a California newsletter estimates American Express had 10.6 million U.S. merchant locations at the end of 2019.

“American Express Cards, whether  personal, cobrand, small business or corporate, now have even greater utility because our Card Members can use them with more confidence in more places,” said Anré Williams, Group President, Global Merchant & Network Services, American Express. “Our corporate card clients can also capture even more of their business expenses because of our expanded U.S. network.”

Comments by American Express Chairman and CEO shop

Growing Acceptance by Making it Easy
How did we make this happen? We made it easier for our merchants– small, medium and large – to accept American Express. These efforts included the introduction of OptBlue in 2014 that enabled small businesses to accept American Express through their existing processor who sets the rate and facilitates the transaction, just as they do for other cards. We introduced new merchant-friendly policies and continued to show our commitment to small businesses through our Shop Small and Small Business Saturday movement, generating a record-high total of an estimated $19.6 billion in sales for U.S. local businesses last yeari.

Small businesses, like Other Side Property Maintenance in Henderson, North Carolina, are enjoying the benefits of welcoming American Express through OptBlue. “We were able to lock in a rate with our processor that works best for us,” said owner Brodie Foster. “It’s been a win-win situation all around. We can also get paid fast. It frees up cash for other jobs.”

Card Members are noticing the expanded acceptance across the U.S. too. “I love that I’ve been able to use my Amex when I’m on the road and traveling,” said Stephen Palsi, NYC resident and Card Member since 2011. “I remember when I traveled to Ft. Lauderdale a few years ago, there were many places that didn’t take my Amex. When I’ve traveled there more recently, my Amex was welcomed everywhere I went.”

Taking on Outdated Misperceptions and New Industries
We also made efforts to tackle outdated misperceptions about accepting American Express, including the types of businesses that can accept our cards or cost for merchants. We are helping merchants understand that things have changed. In fact, on average, there is little cost difference today for a U.S. business to accept American Express over the other credit card networks.

“As a small business, I was a little hesitant at first to accept American Express because I’d heard that their fees were much higher,” said Rebecca Roth Gullo, owner of Blackbird Doughnuts in Boston, MA. “But that turned out not to be the case for us. What we pay to accept American Express Cards is in line with what we pay to accept credit cards in general.”

We also made significant inroads in industries that did not traditionally accept credit cards, including utilities, government entities, insurance, healthcare and education. Today American Express can be used to pay your water bill, rent, healthcare costs, and tuition, as well as everyday purchases at the dollar store or a cup of coffee on your morning commute.

Our Work Continues
The merchant landscape is highly dynamic, with hundreds of thousands of U.S. businesses opening and unfortunately closing every year. We will continue to focus on maintaining high levels of merchant acceptance in the U.S. going forward.

We also have a robust strategy to significantly expand coverage internationally over the next few yearsIn 2019, more than two million new places outside of the U.S. where our Card Members live, do business and travel to most started accepting American Express.

As we continue to grow our network, we will keep working with our millions of merchant partners in the U.S. and around the world to help them grow their businesses and ensure our Card Members are warmly welcomed and encouraged to spend with their American Express Cards.


iAccording to the 2019 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Surveyconducted by Teneo on behalf of American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). The study is a nationally representative sample of 2,287 U.S. adults 18 years of age or older. The sample was collected using an email invitation and an online survey. The study gathered self-reported data and does not reflect actual receipts or sales. It was conducted anonymously on December 1, 2019. The survey has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.0%, at the 95% level of confidence. Projections are based on the current U.S. Census estimates of the U.S. adult population, age 18 years and over.

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