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Feb 17, 2009 05:39 AM

AMEX, is it me or them?

l use an American Express card exclusively. Many restaurants , more recently, are not accepting Amex, but accept Visa and MC. Yes it cost about one percent more to take Amex, but l am on the out. l understand having the other cards as l do, just use them, but that is not the point. l do not want to use the others. When the restaurant tells me, sorry they do not accept Amex, l pay in cash, and tell them sorry, l cannot return, yes a lie, but l try to get them to change their policy. Any other suggestions.

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  1. it frustrates me too, as i use my AmEx for all business transactions, including meetings over meals & coffee...but i've come to expect the occasional situation where i can't use it. AmEx has never been as widely accepted as Visa & MC because of their higher fees, and unfortunately, i imagine we'll begin to see more and more restaurants (and other businesses) stop accepting it if it makes a difference to their bottom line during these terrible financial times.your attempt to "get them to change your policy" is an exercise in futility. pleasing one customer isn't worth the extra fees they have to pay to accept the card.

    it's a minor inconvenience to us, but for them it may be a matter of survival. it would be a real shame to see even more places go under if those of us who can still afford to patronize them stop doing so for reasons that have nothing to do with a decline in the quality of food or overall service.

    1 Reply
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      Well put. In the context of things that can ruin your day, a place not accepting Amex is way down on the list. IMHO anyway.


    2. I carry an Amex and a Visa; I prefer to use the Amex, but the Visa is for those establishments (dining and otherwise) that don't take it - and given the higher Amex fee structure, I have no problem with their decision.

      Curiously enough, I've been to a few restaurants that only take Amex or cash. Go figure.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Striver

        ditto striver's post 100%. Instead of taking it out on the restaurants, complain to Amex.

        1. re: rockandroller1

          Totally agree. No reason to complain to the restaurant. Complain to Amex.

      2. I use an AMEX cash back card, I always look to see if it's accepted, if not I leave and go somewhere else.

        1. I have been an AmEx cardholder for 29 years. I would estimate for that period that half of US restaurants were not in their system. I don't enter a restaurant with an expectation that they accept AmEx. Certainly more do now than earlier. I live pretty much on a cash basis, but for occasions that may result in a disputed charge (usually rental cars, hotels, airlines) AmEx is an amazing advocate. I have had maybe 10 disputed charges (not a lot in 29 years) and I have prevailed in each and every one, with their help. I have 2 debit cards because of bank relationships, and I never use them because I am annally paranoid about identity theft or misuse. AmEx is a great firewall, and what's wrong with cash? All else being equal, I want restaurants to succeed with every tool they need these days.
          Oh, and show up in Cuba with ANY debit or credit card, and watch the dumb looks you get...

          9 Replies
          1. re: Veggo

            <<All else being equal, I want restaurants to succeed with every tool they need these days.>>

            Agree wholeheartedly. One of my favorite mom and pop Vietnamese restaurants in town is cash only. Having gone there for years, I know one of us needs to have cash. As the restaurant is on Main St. not far from a handful of banks, it's never an issue. For me to stop going to Pho Mai because they don't take credit cards (never mind my specific card of choice) would definitely be MY loss, not THEIRS.

            1. re: Veggo

              I'm almost the opposite. I use AmEx whenever I can, but don't let it stop me from patronizing a place. As Veggo said, AmEx can be an amazing advocate, so for the 1% more I might be charged, it's worth it. I've had several claims with rental cars (I mentioned I used to race cars, didn't I?) and AmEx has handled it. Actually, on both those occasions, it had nothing to do with my driving. Chargebacks for bad or undelivered goods: no problem!
              I don't know if they would do a chargeback for bad food....
              I carry cash, but I want the AmEx bonus points.. That makes up for some of the higher fees.

              1. re: Scargod

                another amex fan here. they've backed me on my few disputes and we've always prevailed. i've been swelling their coffers since 1984.

                fallback position is a visa airline affinity card. charm school taught me that transactions must always benefit both sides.

              2. re: Veggo

                I had several e-mails about "dumb looks" in Cuba. I want to rephrase my last comment, to reflect only that Cuba is not included in the worldwide banking and conventional money transfer mechanisms.

                1. re: Veggo

                  I believe that you can use credit cards there, just not ones that are issued in the U.S.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    I have a Mexican AmEx and it is useless in Cuba. Not a single paladar has the capacity to process an electronic transaction. Even at the Riviera hotel, where they are accustomed to payment by vouchers from tour operators in Canada and Europe, I was on my third day when they finally agreed on a price per night. Communism is a very strange system, at least to us. AmEx and Cuba don't mix.
                    Cash is universal. When I'm in a foreign country , the Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) line resonates with me: "we're a long way from home, let's just pay the man and go".

                    1. re: Veggo

                      Ah ok - I know my husband has been able to use his Dominican Visa/MC at the hotel he stays there when he goes on business.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        And don't bring American cash to Cuba either.

                2. re: Veggo

                  Veggo, I totally agree with you. AmEx is far superior in dealing swiftly and painlessly with disputed charges. I choose not to even carry a debit card due to all the troubles friends have had with theirs.

                3. Actually, I'm pretty sure that Amex charges quite a bit more than 1% above MC/VISA - at least they used to. When I was in retail some years ago, it was more like 3 - 4% more. And in the restaurant business, when margins can be as slim as 10 - 15%, that's a huge difference, which is exactly why so many won't take them. Don't take it out on the restaurant, they're just doing this to try to stay afloat.

                  Face it, by choosing to carry only an Amex card you have placed yourself in a very, very small minority, and you can't expect them to place themselves at financial risk just to accommodate you.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: BobB

                    10% to 15% would be extraordinary for a restaurant. The more I read about the thin margins the more I learn that they average about 6%.

                    1. re: KTinNYC

                      All the more reason for restaurants to stay away from Amex.

                    2. re: BobB

                      You're right, margins are thin in the restaurant business and giving away profits is stupid.

                      Years ago the restaurant I worked for accepted AMEX along with MC & Visa. We went through a brief period because of the AMEX fees when we encouraged customers to use MC & Visa over AMEX. AMEX must have seen our charges decline, came out and renegotiated their fee to be competitive with MC & Visa. We were an upscale chain with several locations so I'm sure AMEX negotiates with larger accounts.

                      They have some kind of arrangement with Costco, you can get a free AMEX through Costco. Next to the Costco card, its the card to use there. I remember the days when you had to pay $40 to get the AMEX lowly green card.

                      1. re: monku

                        The Costco AmEx card comes with a purchase rebate program.

                        1. re: Dyspepsia

                          That's why I have it. Like the big check I get every year.

                          1. re: monku

                            2nd that, the card is free and I like the check, which is due this month, I believe.

                          2. re: Dyspepsia

                            every card i use has a purchase rebate program and is free (including my 2 visa cards).

                            nothing special about that

                        2. re: BobB

                          44 million cardholders in the US (i.e. about 15% of the total population, and certainly much higher percentage of the adult population) is a "very, very small minority"?

                          But, AMEX certainly wants to go that way; they have offered a number of cardholders a $300 bonus to pay off the remainder of their balances, and then go away:


                          1. re: KevinB

                            The "very, very small minority" BobB is referring to would be those who carry only an American Express card and do not carry a MasterCard or Visa or other card in addition to their American Express card.