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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.

                        3. How very odd of you. It's almost as though you think they're obligated to take Amex. Amex is also my first choice of card in a restaurant, but it wouldn't occur to me to get huffy and refuse them my business because they only take cash or take MC/Visa but not Amex. They don't have to take anything at all. Now, I can understand nicely letting management know that you wish they took Amex, maybe even saying that you prefer to frequent restaurants that accept it, but refusing to go back to a restaurant you enjoyed is cutting off your nose to spite your face and very silly. I prefer Amex because of the points, but I make sure that the Visa I carry also provides me decent benefits and the whole thing is really no big deal.

                          1. It's been a long time since I was in retail but I hated AMEX for more than their high fee.
                            IIRC, there was a problem with their float, i.e. how quickly the money was credited to my account. The other cards were deposited into my local bank and I got the money right away.
                            AMEX? Oh, noooo. I had to wait days, weeks, or was it close to 30 days???
                            Think what the value of that money was for a MONTH.
                            AMEX was using YOUR money for FREE.
                            You were paying interest to creditors - at what interest rate?
                            That was close to 20 years ago so it might/must have changed, but AMEX has always had a reputation as the least merchant-friendly of the credit cards companies.

                            Of course, AMEX is also the toughest on card-holders too.
                            Ever miss that payment due date when you were traveling?
                            Yikes! They act like you're the biggest deadbeat on God's Green Earth.
                            They'll let you charge a new car and then threaten to cut you off for an unpaid $30 balance.

                            If they are still as bad on paying merchants on a timely basis, I don't blame ANY business for dropping them.
                            I would in a minute.
                            Remember TWO words: CASH FLOW.
                            In these times, when credit is hard to get, that's at or near the top of every business' priority list.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: MakingSense

                              Yes I have missed a payment due date and more than once. It hasn't been a frequent thing -maybe once a year. Each time I've called them and they've erased the late fee and the mark on my credit. They're consistently one of the most efficient and reasonable companies I deal with.

                              1. re: Dyspepsia

                                i've had the same experience with my Visa cards.
                                so far, every "advantage" of AMEX that has been mentioned in this thread, with the one exception being the costco-amex connection, i have had with my Visa cards.

                                actually, one of my visa cards gives me more cash back than does the AMEX

                            2. I too prefer Amex (100,00 points got me $20K worth of 1st class tickets to Europe - retail value), but I eat where the food is good. If McDonalds started accepting AMEX (they probably do), it wouldn't sway me to start devouring Big Macs.

                              1. "l do not want to use the others"

                                Could you explain why?

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: RicRios

                                  I can tell you why I prefer to use Amex over all my other cards, they are great advocates for their cardholders. I had a small charge on my bill that I know I didn't make. It was less than $10. I called Amex and without question they took the charge away. I can't even get to talk to a human with my other cards.

                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                    As convenient as this was to you as a cardholder, this is one reason that merchants will not accept Amex. On the business end, this is a nightmare. Twice in the past two weeks, my husband's motorcycle shop has had expensive services "disputed" and the money subsequently deducted from their revenue. In both cases, there wasn't even an actual dispute. The customers had forgotten that the credit card name is different from the name on the sign. They merely called Amex for more clarification about the charge. Amex automatically denied the charges. In order for the merchant to get their rightfully earned money, they have to get notarized documents, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Keep in mind that these customers had NO IDEA that Amex had even done this or why. I can imagine unscrupulous card members getting thousands of dollars in free goods and services at the expense of the merchants. Add this particular business to the list of those who now refuse Amex. Good riddance.

                                    1. re: evewitch

                                      I think all of us want only a fair quid pro quo, what you give for what you get.

                                    2. re: KTinNYC

                                      Re KTinNYC's $10 dispute: At the bank I used to work for, cc disputes under $20 weren't investigated because it cost the bank more in time/wages than it was worth, they were just writeoffs which IMHO is probably why your $10 dispute was handled so quickly.

                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                        I worked at a hotel that didn't take
                                        Amex for this reason. Some people would stay (sign the registration card, and pay with and sign the cc slip) and then call Amex and say they weren't there. They didn't pay the hotel, or work with it at all, to resolve things. I know this abuse is extreme, but it may be why some small biz don't take them.

                                        1. re: corneygirl

                                          If the hotel didn't take Amex how did the person check in using it? I am assuming the front desk people knew the hotel didn't have an agreement with Amex, and even if they somehow didn't know, how would they be able to run the card without the hotel being signed up with Amex?

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            I believe corneygirl was implying that the hotel at which she worked chose to drop the acceptance of Amex for the reason she stated.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              Ah, right you are, Linda. Thanks. That so completely went over my head in a blur I never even caught a whiff of it.

                                        2. re: KTinNYC

                                          Yes, KTinNYC. I've had the same experience with Amex any time there has been a problem. They're great.

                                        3. re: RicRios

                                          May l first say, this is no big deal, nor was it meant to be. l understand that AMEX covers the customer better in disputed situations than other cards, and never was l called by AMEX at 3 or 4 in the morning in a strange Asian country to make sure it was my purchase as l was by Visa four times in last eight years. That is the reason l carry but rarely use the other cards. They tend in too many situations to make life more difficult. l travel 8-10 months a year and all my bills are paid automatically, thus no worries and easy bookkeeping. That is why l use AMEX, but regarding the restaurants and othe retail establishments, l work in a retail food environment now on upper east side of NYC. 80% of our sales are credit/debit cards and of those credit @60% are AMEX with a huge percentage of titanium cards. Checked with bookkeeper and she said that yes the float is longer with AMEX, but the percentage charge is only slightly higher. My point was that if you accept cards, accept cards, if not then do not but do not discriminate against one card or the other. For me on both ends, it makes something quite simple far more complex.

                                        4. jfood prefers to use the AMEX but if the restaurant does not, no biggie.

                                          Yes AMEX does have great protection and if a replacement is needed, at the house the next day. But if jfood using a Visa over an AMEX keeps the prices low and restaurants in business, he'll play.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: jfood

                                            Our card of choice is AMEX, due to the points we earn, but if a place only takes VISA/MC, that's fine too.

                                          2. To preface this, I'm tipsy, so...

                                            ...When I used to wait tables, we all hated Amex. There's something different about the way the computer system processed the Amex card. Sometimes it would take over a minute to go through. That was never a good thing on a Saturday night. Does anyone know why that happened?

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                                              I hated Amex too as a waitress, but not for your reasons. The owner charged the waitress and extra 2% of the tab off her tip. It was his way of passing on the extra charges the company levied.

                                              1. re: thinks too much

                                                By the owner levying this tax on you, was he suggesting or implying that you pressure the customer for another card? It would seem obvious that you would ask the customer for a non-AmEx card... I have had that asked of me! Perhaps by you?

                                                1. re: thinks too much

                                                  2% of the TOTAL TAB
                                                  2% of your tip amount?

                                                  the first is despicable and may well be illegal (not that anyone who really NEEDS their job would fight it).

                                                2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                  Lots of times when I use my AMEX, it takes a while to go through, and I'll think it's my card but the clerk will tell me they often take a long time.

                                                3. I just ate at a breakfast spot today that took cards but not Amex. No big deal, even though I prefer to use my Amex. If it's something I'm going to spend cash on, I might as well use the card and get the points.
                                                  My platinum card has a concierge and that concierge got me a table at Babbo the week of Valentines day last year, at the exact time I wanted with 1 day of notice. That alone is reason for me to stick with 'em.

                                                  1. Seems to me there are really three topics going on here now.

                                                    1) Is Amex a good card for a consumer to use? Answer: No question about it, everyone loves it and there is no reason at all not to have one and use it wherever possible.

                                                    2) Is it a good card for restaurants to accept? Answer: Obviously not, or they'd take it as readily as the others. The example the OP gives of a upper east side establishment that gets a "huge percentage of titanium cards" is so far outside the mainstream as to be ludicrous. Real world restaurants, operating on minimal margins (6% if they're lucky, as has been noted) need every penny of profit they can get, so it is perfectly understandable that they don't like Amex.

                                                    3) Ergo, is it smart to carry only an Amex, with no M/C or VISA as backup? Answer: Again, obviously not, since pretty much every single poster here except the OP has indicated that they carry both. (For the record, I do too). I would venture to guess that not one Amex cardholder in 100 has NO other card in their wallet. Solution to the OP's dilemma: If you don't want to carry cash for these situations, get a no-fee Mastercard. Problem solved.

                                                    10 Replies
                                                    1. re: BobB

                                                      Please read what l said,yes, high % of titanium, but that is the area l am in, thus applies to me and the store l work in. l carry 5 Visa/MC cards as l stated but the question was not one of complexity but attempting to reach simplicity and still feel easier if places just accepted AMEX than not as well as Diners, on both sides.

                                                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                        Simplicity for you is (financial) pain for the restaurants in question. Wish all you want, it's not going to happen.

                                                        Besides, assuming you use those Visa/MC cards for something, else why would you have them in the first place, how does it complicate your life in any way to use them at establishments that don't take Amex? I really fail to see any problem here.

                                                        1. re: BobB

                                                          "Simplicity for you is (financial) pain for the restaurants in question."

                                                          All credit cards are a "pain" for restaurants but it obviously benefits them to take the cards and as you can see from this thread many of use prefer to use AMEX so it would make sense that we would like restaurants to take AMEX as well as Visa/MC.

                                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                                            I agree that many people prefer to use Amex wherever they can, but my point is, if Amex didn't cause more pain for the restaurants than MC/Visa, then they'd be more widely accepted.

                                                            If you want more restaurants to accept Amex, the only logical strategy is to petition Amex to stop charging restaurants more than the other cards and making them wait longer to get their money. Don't blame the restaurants that are just doing the sensible thing (under the existing conditions) by not taking it.

                                                            1. re: BobB

                                                              As an upscale retail merchant who has been in business for 22 years, I can tell you why I stopped taking AMEX a few years ago...and it has nothing to do with the 1.25% extra AMEX charged me as a merchant.

                                                              When a merchant enters into an agreement to accept the cards (VISA, MC, DISC,AMEX as well as Debit cards), it stipulates when the amount of money will be deposited into your checking account. It's pretty standard in the industry that Visa/MC/Discover agrees to deposit by the 2nd business day (if the transaction is on a Monday, I will have it in my account on Wed.), while AMEX 'agrees' to deposit by the 3rd business day (so Monday's transaction will be available to me on Thursday).

                                                              I never had a problem with getting my money on time from the other cards, but AMEX has always been a struggle - especially when the purchase was for a larger amount (I noticed over $300) which occurs regularly in my business.

                                                              On one occasion, I had a transaction due me for around $1000, which was due on "the third business day". AMEX made me wait TEN business days for the amount to show up in my account (I started calling them on a daily basis after the fourth day, and no one had an answer as to what was taking so long).

                                                              This constant inconsistency caused me to be delinquent with paying my bills on time, and in one case - bounced checks. I need to pay my vendors, my employees, landlord, taxes, etc. on a timely basis, and I can't afford to have AMEX hold onto my money (so they can pay their bills on time?) when it belongs in my checking account. (I can only imagine how hard it is on a food business). It's like having your paycheck on 'direct deposit' and your employer decided to deposit it into your checking account when they felt like it.

                                                              When I contacted my 'account manager' she had no explanation as to why larger purchases take so long to post to my account, nor did she offer to investigate. At that time I gave her thirty days to get back to me with clarification, or I would close my account. Needless to say, she (nor anyone else there) ever got back to me. I dropped AMEX from my store. (Funny - I get regular calls and mail. now, stating 'We want you back!").

                                                              Did I lose customers in the past four years? I recall one incident where a person didn't have another card (the majority does) and I lost a small sale (I remember it was under $50). No one else.

                                                              When everyone whips out their AMEX (Titanium, 'Open', 'Blue', and all the others) I simply tell them we don't accept AMEX, but we take all the others including debit. There's never a problem.

                                                              BTW, I have spoken to other business owners, and the majority of them have said the same thing. The reason they stopped accepting AMEX was because of their inconsistency in paying the merchant the money due them - and no one can stay in business that way. It has nothing to do with the extra percentage.

                                                              1. re: OOliver

                                                                Remember where AMEX got their start - traveller's cheques, not credit cards. You buy $1,000 worth of traveller's cheques two weeks before you leave home, and then spend that slowly over the two weeks of your cruise. You get home with $150 left, which you stick away in a drawer.

                                                                AMEX gets your $1,000 for two weeks, and your $150 for maybe years, without paying you a cent of interest. Doesn't seem like much, but add it up over a few million customers, and suddenly, you're talking big money.

                                                                AMEX has always been a "FLOAT" company. They've just transferred the concept from the traveller cheque business to the credit card one.

                                                                1. re: KevinB

                                                                  you used to pay for TCs when they first came out.

                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                    Yes, you paid for TC's, but what - 1 cent per dollar, IIRC? In a world without credit cards, ATM's, and currency exchanges, TC's were a bargain at that price. But as I said, it was the float where AMEX made all their money, especially on the cheques you DIDN'T spend, which were essentially an interest free loan until you either redeemed or lost them.

                                                                    1. re: KevinB


                                                                      It was a statement not a question. jfood both bought and sold TC's at AAA when he was younger

                                                                2. re: OOliver

                                                                  How were you so lucky?. Hell, we went thirty days based on their month end statement.

                                                                  Our business was not food related, but still a service business catering to guests. We accepted Amex reluctantly if the customer had no other card but scraped the decal off the shop window after our first transaction.

                                                      2. I read the whole thread and didn't see this factor.
                                                        Mr Shallots and I have both Visa and AMEX. Mr Shallots wallet was taken from our motel room in Olympia Washington and then returned (to the room the same night it was stolen, it was just tossed into the room without the money.)
                                                        That's when we discovered that both of our Visa cards have the same number and to put a hold on his number required a hold be put on mine as well.)
                                                        AMEX has us as one account, but two different numbers, so my AMEX still worked. AMEX also offered to send him a new one in 24 hours; VISA said there would be a five day lag time.
                                                        AMEX earned me as a customer for life that day.

                                                        1. I work for a business (not a restaurant) that does not accept AmEx. The reasons are many, least of which is the higher cost. They do not fund our account as quickly as other credit cards. They do not handle disputes in the same way as other cards. They may be consumer-friendly, but are not at all merchant-friendly.

                                                          1. I like to use only my Amex for business and it is frustrating when places don't accept it! I've resorted to having a Discover card for business use for the places that don't take Amex. About 25% of my credit card expenses end up on the Discover card as a lot of places still don't take Amex! Sam's club being on of them!

                                                            1. Suggestion #1: Write a note to the management/ownership of the restaurant explaining that you'd very much like to return but choose to use only your American Express card and will happily return if and when they begin accepting it. This would actually be trying to get them to change their policy.

                                                              Suggestion #2: Deal with the fact that you made a choice about what product to use and accept the consequences of that choice; in this case that there are fewer businesses that accept the American Express card. Tell them why you're not returning rather than make up some lie about it.

                                                              8 Replies
                                                              1. re: ccbweb

                                                                I still think that's going at it backwards. Instead of asking all the merchants who don't take Amex, one by one, to change their policy and accept less money, paid later, just to get your business (a threat they're not likely to take seriously anyway, since as we have seen from the merchant testimony above, almost no one refuses to come up with a different card when Amex isn't accepted), petition Amex to start treating their merchants as well as they do their cardholders. I'm sure there are plenty of businesses out there who'd be delighted to take Amex if it didn't hurt them financially.

                                                                I'm serious about a petition - if this thread is any indication of the number of people who wish more places would accept Amex, you could get a real movement going, and the PR just might be enough to pressure Amex to change. And you would only have to get one business (Amex itself) to change its policy, not thousands of individual ones. Much more efficient. Go for it!

                                                                1. re: BobB

                                                                  A totally reasonable way to go and more likely to produce the larger change the OP seems to be after, you're right.

                                                                  1. re: BobB

                                                                    In the past, a merchant had to have a separate terminal for amex; my visa/mastercard supplier offered me amex on the same terminal and I went for it.
                                                                    I had an art gallery and could not afford to lose the sale of a painting because I did not
                                                                    accept amex.

                                                                    I had to pay an extra .75 cents per transaction in order for my funds to be deposited within 3 days or else it would have been a week or more. I can see that a small business cannot afford that extra fee.

                                                                    1. re: superbossmom

                                                                      Perhaps if you are selling hotdogs. I can't see that breaking most businesses. They're using a portion of your net money for a week. I would think that the (essentially, one-time), delay would be bearable unless you were really on the brink of failing.
                                                                      Considering that you might lose some business for not having it, it seems a no-brainer for many places to take AmEx.

                                                                      1. re: Scargod

                                                                        And yet they don't. They're not stupid, they don't take it because it DOES hurt them, and it's Amex's fault, not the restaurants.

                                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                                          For many businesses with the 'old' termionals, they do not accept AME#X as the terinal cannot and costs @1000 for new terminal, than l can understand, the other rationale l cannot understand.

                                                                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                            I have had Amex for 26 years. I refused to pay the annual fee this year. When I told them I could use my visa without a fee. They did not seem to mind that I was cancelling. So much for that.

                                                                            1. re: Mollybud

                                                                              Why did you refuse to pay the fee when you've done so the past 25 years?

                                                                              ETA: I've had an AMEX for 18 years, required to get it at a company I worked at (green card) for corporate purchases when we were acquired by Amex. Using that card for business purposes allowed me to get my own personal green card, and eventually move up to a Gold card, which I have now. I use it because it does force me to pay off the card each month so I keep better track of my expenditures (although they do allow charges to be moved to "over time" payments, which I like - I can pick and choose which ones I need to do that with.) I also like accumulating the Membership Reward points - trips to Vegas, England, and Ireland (as well as separate trips for my mother) have been paid for using those points.

                                                                              Have never, ever had an issue with them - once left my card on a restaurant table, and in calling the restaurant, they said they had it and would hold it for me. Upon calling Amex, they recommended I immediately cancel that card # and they reissed a new one to prevent fraud - got it 2 days later.

                                                                              I do have a VISA, but use it only when an establishment doesn't accept Amex (BJ's Wholesale Club being one place).

                                                                  2. Since I carry one (or two) each of the majors, I have the credit card bases covered. Still, I have reasons for using a particular card. I do resent an establishment not honoring AMEX, VISA and MC, but that is their choice. I like to make the choice, based on my intentions and needs.

                                                                    Lately, in non-restaurant instances, I've had some people, who would actually offer a small (usually 1%) discount FOR using an AMEX. Go figure.

                                                                    Now, I do happen to travel into some areas of the US, where ALL credit cards are not taken. Because of this, I travel with a few $100's.

                                                                    What has galled me to the extreme are the resorts, that host major events. When I have attempted to order special wines for my table from their wine lists, they have stated, that it must be cash-only. Two problems: who walks around with $800 in cash, and who does not want a receipt for a business expense? Now, all of these resorts DO accept credit cards for all other purchases. I often wonder if the catering staff is looking to this to get a "bonus."


                                                                    1. Funny, my husband and I were just at a restaurant in Puerto Vallarta (Barcelona Tapas) that took ONLY AmEx, not visa or MC. My husband and I have AmEx cards for work, but this was vacation, so we had to get cash before going (lucky we knew beforehand since I read the restaurant website). This was really a surprise; I've never seen a place not take Visa or MC if they take cards at all.

                                                                      1. I tend to put everything on my AMEX, but I do encounter places where only MC/Visa are taken. It's really not a big deal to me and I don't really understand why some people will refuse to go to a place where they don't accept Amex. If it's an issue of getting points on your Amex, there are no-fee point-earning MCs and Visas around. If it's an issue of using a card where you have to pay your entire balance at the end of the statement, I would just use cash.

                                                                        1. "Yes it cost about one percent more to take Amex"
                                                                          If Amex skims 4% while other cards skim 3% that is 33.3%, not 1% more.

                                                                          1. The reason why restaurants would accept Amex or cash years ago (rather than Visa & MC) is that Amex offered them a much lower discount rate (percentage fee) than even Visa or MC.

                                                                            Now, with Amex's discount rate being double in many cases, ... well, you can see why merchants would avoid it unless they have a large quantity of Amex holders (like corporate cards), which higher end restaurants tend to get.

                                                                            1. The fee actually varies a lot more than 1% and the cost for smaller businesses can be higher.

                                                                              But my main problem with your post is more like: "Huh? You want them to make less money because you prefer to pay them with Amex? Would you pay the extra cost? Why is it fair for you to insist they pay more when you wouldn't?"

                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                              1. re: lergnom

                                                                                The point of credit cards is convenience, if there is a little less profit, so be it. Charge a little more if the merchant is bothered, who cares. It is easier to do that than say 'sorry, we do not accept this card or that card'. By accepting some whichever they are, you have made something very simple more complex, that is all l am saying, and hopefully will not have to say again. Credit cards are currently a means of doing business. You can choose cloth napkins or paper, you can choose a zillion things that enhance your business at a cost that you decide if it is worth it or not. IMHO accepting all cards is a good way to help your business, rather than picking and choosing services.

                                                                                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                  Correct, and rail against the machine all you desire. It would be simpler to pull the MasterCard out and use it....

                                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                                    Of course, but there is principle here.

                                                                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                      Exactly what "principle" is that?
                                                                                      You yourself have said that a business has a right to "choose" from a "zillion things that enhance" their bottom line and that they "decide if it is worth it or not."
                                                                                      Posters have explained as length the difficulties and expense of dealing with AMEX as compared to other cards.
                                                                                      It's MORE expensive and by choosing not to accept it, restaurants can increase their bottom line - especially important right now when many are struggling to stay afloat.
                                                                                      If 99 out of 100 customers pull out another card without a second thought, they gain that extra margin.

                                                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                        The principle of making my life easier, which is my whole point. In a perfect world everything would be easy, and everybody would take everything, and that is what l am striving for. No deep philosophical angst, just ease of existence for me.

                                                                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger


                                                                                          That business is not IN the business to "make your life easier." They're in business to make a living for themselves and their employees and provide whatever service it is they provide - whether it's selling coffee, dry-cleaning your clothes or providing you a meal. That's it.

                                                                                          If by not offering the American Express card, it helps their bottom line, that's their business choice. Just pull out another credit card.

                                                                                          Hey - I have an Amex. I like to use it. But I'm also quite comfortable with the fact that some businesses don't accept it. Such is life. My choice to use the Amex whenever I can; their choice not to accept it. Why should they accept it just to make life all peaches and cream for me?

                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                            Didn't say they should, my goal is to make my life simple. Thus l will try to go to businesses when it is in my best interests. Will not ignore others to spite myself, but when have the choice in an infinite number of categories will use the businesses that serve my needs best in whatever ways that may be. If l wish to drive or walk an additional distance to use a dry cleaner for whatever reason, they are friendlier, they use AMEX, whatever, l can and l will, my choice. No big deal, yes the business is in business to make money and at the same time l, not them, l decide which ones l will use based on the services they offer. For whatever reason the little thing of a credit card is important to me, should it be, who knows and who cares, but it is.

                                                                                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                              I think I see a chink in your premise: You want simplicity and ease. Yet you go out of your way to patronize only those that accept American Express. You will not return to those that do not accept it. Doing this, you are limiting yourself and making it more difficult to find restaurants you like. You spend energy going from place to place till you see the magic blue sticker. There is frustration when you cannot find one that takes the card. Is all this worth it?
                                                                                              Sometimes I love to use cash. It is my magic carpet for escape. Throw down money on the table; I'm outa here! I have had numerous experiences where the last thing I wanted to do, after an agonizingly bad meal, was wait for the slow and disinterested waiter to finally stop my agony. Sometimes I don't want to twist in the wind while they control my time and prolong my pain.

                                                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                Good premise, wrong chink. Who knew when l started this post what would come back to haunt me. Go to many places that are only cash, no worries. My issue is all cards or none, that is it, nothing else. If cards, then cards it is, not this one or that one, cards.

                                                                                                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                  My bad. I didn't read your posts (and all of them), thoroughly enough to see that you were willing to use the other cards and cash.

                                                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                    This post has become it's own item, far past what l initiated. Seems to have a life of its own, hopefully now done. And as you said, 'all of them' was quite a few.

                                                                                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                      Yup! You just never know.... They can take on a life of their own and go off on tangents you never imagined. People can end up accusing you all kinds of things. There ought to be a warning when you click that new post button.
                                                                                                      Are you sure you didn't cause this economic crisis we're in?

                                                                              2. I went to a restaurant today near Galveston that just re-opened after Hurricane Ike, whipped out my AMEX to pay, and was told they cannot afford to accept it until traffic increases. They had a sign on the door saying they took it, but they denied it. I always look for AMEX signs before I assume they accept it. I didn't argue, I'm happy they're open. I'm glad I had cash, I don't know if they'd take my Houston check. I could still be there shucking oysters, peeling shrimp, and washing dishes.

                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                  We accept AMEX in our business. The AMEX merchants' agreement explicitly states that a merchant can lose their AMEX privileges if they a) attempt to steer customers away from using their AMEX card; b) charge more for those customers using AMEX (this does not apply to gasoline stations); or c) impose a minimum purchase amount in order to accept AMEX.

                                                                                  The business owners above who whined about the cash-flow issue don't have good credit. Our AMEX drafts are posted to our account by the second business day. However, we always have a cash cushion so we can pay our bills whenever we want.

                                                                                  Finally, the OP is certainly cutting down on his options by refusing to patronize businesses which don't accept AMEX. For example, he'd be out of luck at Barney Greengrass on the weekends, and at Rao's all the time.

                                                                                  1. re: shaogo

                                                                                    Barney Greengrass l would pay with blood to eat at, and do all the time, and who the hell ever gets into Rao's anyway, certainly not me. My workmates babysitter is on that block and we always pass all the Bentleys when we pick up her kid and look in the window like 8 year olds looking at a candy shop.

                                                                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                      I, too, would pay with blood to eat at Greengrass's.

                                                                                      To get into Rao's, all one need do is make a reservation. You might have to wait, but it's well worth it. Now, once there, if you over-tip excessively, the way that many Rao's regulars do, you'll be remembered and entry may be gained a lot more quickly next time. The singular experience is well worth it, at least in my book. (Although I long for the days when the chilled fruit platter presented at meal's end had been picked by Annie herself, may she rest in peace.)

                                                                                      1. re: shaogo

                                                                                        >>>You might have to wait<<<

                                                                                        From what I've heard, that could be a loooooong wait, unless of course you're part of the in-crowd.

                                                                                  2. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                    Sorry to be zombie thread resurrector but a personal peeve of mine if restaurants the bring the check in an Amex Guest Check Holder and then don't accept Amex... Really? Why to don't you just bring the check on a salad plate or drop it on the table instead?

                                                                                    1. re: knowspicker

                                                                                      Because they can only give away so many of those "check holder" things to their friends and family to try and clear out their backrooms before the F&F's are begging them to stop...

                                                                                  3. I recently encountered a restaurant that only takes Amex: The Floridian, Fort Lauderdale. There's nothing obviously special about it, it's a 24-hour diner. The wait staff didn't know why they only took Amex.

                                                                                    1. If I'm duplicating my post, I apologize. Anyway, I am a former small business owner who worked on only about a 30% mark up-not in the food industry. I would never accept AE as they took at least 1% more per transaction than D, V or MC. As with any CC transaction, the % they took was from the total sale and that included sales tax, shipping, in-home delivery or anything else besides the taxable sale that I did not make a profit on. Therefore, the additional 1% that they would have charged would have translated into at least 10% of my profit.

                                                                                      1. I think several posters have mentioned that they choose their cards on what the cards do for them. Points back, service, etc. Why should we not also expect the merchant to pick the cards they want to accept on the benefits that the merchant receives? Makes sense to me.