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

Since its founding in 1950, American Express has branded itself as the card of choice for people with a track record of success. The company’s marketing language — for example, it uses “card member” instead of “cardholder” — was crafted to connote an air of exclusivity. Even today, when anyone with a decent credit rating is constantly bombarded with pre-approved card offers, an Amex card in your wallet exudes a certain undefinable air of prestige. But, when you’re scrambling to finish your holiday shopping only to discover at the register that the store doesn’t accept American Express, prestige won’t help you. This article will provide you with an extensive list of stores that happily accept Amex, as well as a few notable places that don’t.

In This Article

The Back Story: Why Some Stores Give Amex the Cold Shoulder

Your local shopkeeper doesn’t have a personal vendetta against American Express, nor does he 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 Amex card carriers is significantly 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 Amex. 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 him that it’s better to refuse Amex cards, even at the risk of the occasional customer storming off in a huff.

The Other Side: Why Amex Does It

Unlike other card issuers, the founders of American Express didn’t base their 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 lay in 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, the brand’s signature products, including the Premier Rewards Gold Card and the Platinum Card, still follow the charge card model. Since holders of these cards pay no interest, American Express Co. derives revenue from its annual card fees (currently ranging from $95 to $550) and swipe fees collected from merchants. In other words, Amex’s swipe fees are how the company makes its money.

Places That Accept American Express

You’ll be happy to know that the number of sites and stores that take American Express has grown dramatically over the last five years. Here are more than 100 of your favorite brands that will happily accept Amex.

Travel booking

1. Alaska Airlines

2. American Airlines

3. Amtrak

4. Delta Air Lines

5. Frontier Airlines

  • Source: Customer service

6. Greyhound Lines

7. JetBlue Airways

8. Southwest Airlines

9. Spirit Airlines

  • Source: Customer service

10. United Airlines

11. Virgin America

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

12. Amazon

13. Bed, Bath & Beyond

14. BJ’s Wholesale Club

15. Burlington Coat Factory

16. Crate and Barrel and CB2

17. Dollar General

18. Dollar Tree

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

20. H&M

21. IKEA

22. JCPenney

23. Kmart

24. Kohl’s

25. Macy’s

26. Neiman Marcus

27. Nordstrom

28. Ross

29. Saks Fifth Avenue

30. Sam’s Club

31. Sears

32. Target

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

34. Victoria’s Secret

35. Walmart

36. Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, and West Elm

Gas Stations and Convenience Stores

37. 7-Eleven

38. ExxonMobil

39. Gulf Oil

40. Shell

41. Speedway

Hardware and Auto Parts Stores

42. Ace Hardware

43. Advance Auto Parts

44. AutoZone

45. Hardware Hank

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

46. The Home Depot

47. Lowe’s

48. Menards

49. O’Reilly Auto Parts

50. True Value

Office Supply and Electronics Stores

51. Apple

52. AT&T Wireless

53. Best Buy

54. FedEx

55. Office Depot/OfficeMax

56. Staples

57. UPS

58. Verizon Wireless

59. Xfinity

Restaurants

60. Applebee’s

61. Arby’s

62. Buffalo Wild Wings

63. Burger King

64. Chick-fil-A

65. Chili’s

66. Chipotle

67. Cracker Barrel

68. Domino’s

69. Dunkin’

70. Jack in the Box

71. McDonald’s

72. Olive Garden

73. Panera Bread

74. Papa John’s

75. Sonic

76. Starbucks

77. Subway

78. Taco Bell

79. Wendy’s

Supermarkets and Pharmacies

80. ALDI

81. Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Safeway, and Vons

82. Compare Foods

83. CVS

84. Fareway Stores

85. Food Giant

86. Food Lion

87. Fresh Thyme

88. Giant Eagle

89. Hannaford

90. Harps Food

91. HealthMart Pharmacy

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

92. Hy-Vee

93. Ingles Markets

94. Key Food

95. Kroger, Ralphs, and Roundy’s

96. Meijer

97. Met Foodmarkets

98. Natural Grocers

99. Piggly Wiggly

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

100. Price Chopper and Market 32

101. Price Rite

102. Publix

103. Rite Aid

104. Schnucks

105. Shaw’s

106. ShopRite

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

107. Sprouts

108. Stop & Shop and Giant Food

109. Super 1 Foods

110. 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.

111. The Fresh Market

112. Trader Joe’s

113. Walgreens

114. Weis Markets

115. Wegmans

116. Whole Foods Market

117. Winn-Dixie

Specialty Stores

118. Barnes and Noble

119. Dick’s Sporting Goods

120. EB Games / GameStop

121. The North Face

122. Petco

123. PetSmart

124. REI

 

Where Is American Express Not Accepted?

1. The One That Got Away: Costco

This giant wholesale club brand was formerly a cozy partner with American Express, so much so that Amex cards were the only credit cards accepted at Costco Wholesale stores. However, the partnership came to a bitter end, with the brand making a complete about-face regarding payment options. In early 2016, Amex sold all of its Costco brand portfolio to Citigroup and all Costco credit cards became affiliated with Visa.

2. British Telecoms

Telecommunications companies based in the UK are notorious for not accepting American Express. We were able to confirm from company websites that neither BT Communications nor Virgin Media accept American Express.

3. Small Businesses and Mom-and-Pop Shops

The swipe fees assessed by American Express hit small, privately owned businesses hardest. Thus, it is not surprising that your American Express is most likely to be politely declined by locally owned, independent shops. Remember, however, that small businesses are great drivers of local economies, so you shouldn’t let this minor inconvenience deter you from shopping local. Also keep in mind that even smaller swipe fees assessed by other card issuers cut into profits for these merchants, so consider paying cash, if possible.

In Summary

Most major retailers, including pharmacies, grocery stores, restaurants, and more, now accept American Express. However, if you’re looking to use your Amex card at a small business, you should probably check beforehand, as most mom-and-pop stores still don’t accept American Express.

In case you are also interested in Discover, here’s the 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.