Where Is American Express Accepted? The List of 100+ Places

Short Answer: Due to the company’s higher transaction fees, American Express credit cards remain the least widely accepted in the nation. However, many retailers, travel companies, and restaurants do accept American Express, including 7-Eleven, Amazon, Best Buy, Olive Garden, Nordstrom, Target, and Walmart. For the list of over 100 places that take American Express, see below.

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Why Some Stores Do Not Accept Amex

Stores do not have personal vendettas against American Express, nor do they distrust Amex’s ability to make good on promised payments. In fact, American Express has a long history of clean, accurate handling of transactions. And the average income of American Express card carriers is typically higher than carriers of Mastercard, Visa, or Discover cards, which means customers who wish to pay with American Express are more likely to buy bigger-ticket items and are less likely to return them.

However, every time you make a purchase using a credit card, the card issuer takes a small cut of the purchase price as a transaction fee (also known as a swipe fee). Transaction fees charged to the merchant average 2% for Visa and Mastercard, but they average 3% for American Express. This means that a store owner gives up an extra $10 for every $1,000 in sales transacted with American Express. This may not seem like a lot, but for a small business owner operating on smaller margins, it could be enough to convince them that it’s better to refuse American Express cards, even at the risk of losing the occasional customer.

The American Express Business Model

Unlike other card issuers, the founders of American Express didn’t base its business model on generating revenue by charging interest. The classic American Express card was a charge card, not a credit card; the cardholder was required to pay the full balance each month, so no interest ever accrued. The primary appeal of the card was the fact that cardholders could pay all their major expenses for the month with a single check.

Even though the Amex card line now includes credit cards, such as the Amex EveryDay card, some of the brand’s signature products, including the Platinum Card and Business Platinum Card, still follow the charge card model. Since holders of the charge cards pay no interest, American Express derives revenue from its annual card fees and swipe fees collected from merchants.

The List of Places That Accept American Express

The number of sites and stores that take American Express has grown dramatically over the last several years. It is also worth noting that American Express gift cards are usually accepted everywhere that American Express credit cards are accepted. Below, we list more than 100 brands that accept American Express.

Travel Booking

Alaska Airlines

American Airlines

Amtrak

Delta Air Lines

Frontier Airlines

  • Source: Customer service

Greyhound Lines

JetBlue Airways

Southwest Airlines

Spirit Airlines

  • Source: Customer service

United Airlines

Department Stores, Apparel Shops, Discount Stores, and Wholesale Clubs

Amazon

Note: Amazon’s third-party sellers set their own payment policies. For some sellers, only Visa and Mastercard are accepted.

Bed, Bath & Beyond

BJ’s Wholesale Club

Burlington Coat Factory

Crate and Barrel/CB2

Dollar General

Dollar Tree

Gap Inc. stores (Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, and Athleta)

H&M

IKEA

JCPenney

Kmart

Kohl’s

Macy’s

Neiman Marcus

Nordstrom

Ross

Saks Fifth Avenue

Sam’s Club

Sears

Target

TJX Companies (T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods)

Victoria’s Secret

Walmart

Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, and West Elm

Gas Stations and Convenience Stores

7-Eleven

ExxonMobil

Gulf Oil

Shell

Speedway

Hardware and Auto Parts Stores

Ace Hardware

Advance Auto Parts

AutoZone

Hardware Hank

Note: Hardware Hank stores are independently owned and operated; payment policies may vary by store.

The Home Depot

Lowe’s

Menards

O’Reilly Auto Parts

True Value

Office Supply and Electronics Stores

Apple

AT&T Wireless

Best Buy

FedEx

Office Depot/OfficeMax

Staples

UPS

Verizon Wireless

Xfinity

Restaurants

Applebee’s

Arby’s

Buffalo Wild Wings

Burger King

Chick-fil-A

Chili’s

Chipotle

Cracker Barrel

Domino’s

Dunkin’ Donuts

Jack in the Box

McDonald’s

Olive Garden

Panera Bread

Papa John’s

Sonic

Starbucks

Subway

Taco Bell

Wendy’s

Supermarkets and Pharmacies

ALDI

Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Safeway, and Vons

Compare Foods

CVS

Fareway Stores

Food Giant

Food Lion

Fresh Thyme

Giant Eagle

Hannaford

Harps Food

HealthMart Pharmacy

Note: HealthMart is a collective of independently owned stores; policies may vary by store.

Hy-Vee

Ingles Markets

Key Food

Kroger, Ralphs, and Roundy’s

Meijer

Met Foodmarkets

Natural Grocers

Piggly Wiggly

Note: Piggly Wiggly stores are independently owned and operated; policies may vary by store.

Price Chopper and Market 32

Price Rite

Publix

Rite Aid

Schnucks

Shaw’s

ShopRite

Note: ShopRite is not a traditional retail chain; it is a collective of independently owned stores, so policies may vary by store.

Sprouts

Stop & Shop and Giant Food

Super 1 Foods

Supervalu stores (Cub Foods, Great Valu, Farm Fresh, Foodland, Shop ‘N Save, and Shoppers)

Note: Supervalu is a collective of independently owned stores; policies may vary by store. The store managers with whom we spoke indicated that some stores require a $50 minimum purchase to use American Express.

The Fresh Market

Trader Joe’s

Walgreens

Weis Markets

Wegmans

Whole Foods Market

Winn-Dixie

Specialty Stores

Barnes and Noble

Dick’s Sporting Goods

EB Games/GameStop

The North Face

Petco

PetSmart

REI

Where Is American Express Not Accepted?

Costco

This giant wholesale club brand was formerly in exclusive partnership with American Express, and American Express cards used to be the only credit cards accepted at Costco. However, the partnership came to an end, with the brand making a complete about-face regarding payment options. In early 2016, American Express sold all of its Costco brand portfolios to Citigroup. All Costco credit cards became affiliated with Visa.

British Telecoms

Telecommunications companies based in the UK do not typically expect American Express. We were able to confirm from company websites that neither BT Communications nor Virgin Media accepts American Express.

Small Businesses and Mom-and-Pop Shops

The swipe fees assessed by American Express especially affect small, privately owned businesses. Thus, it is not surprising that your American Express is most likely to be declined by locally owned, independent shops. Keep in mind that even smaller swipe fees assessed by other card issuers cut into profits for these merchants, so if you want to support the business, consider paying cash, if possible.

Interested in stores that accept other credit cards? See our list of retailers that take Discover.

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4 comments

  • walter carillion says:

    I called the Sears store in Pensacola fl, and was told they did not accept American Express gift cards. on 17 July 2017

  • Name* (displayed publicly) says:

    Someday it would be nice to be able to pay a car note, business leases etc. until this happens Amex remains a department store card and limited. Hopefully this will soon change.

    • Laura Bachmann says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Change in Amex’s rates has been slow to fall historically, though they have been falling. Back in the 80s, the rate they charged merchants on transactions was around 4%. It will probably be some time before Amex rates match levels of other major cards.