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How to accept American Express® Card payments
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How to accept American Express® Card payments

02 March 2021

3 min read

Not every business accepts AMEX Cards, but as we'll explain in this guide, there are lots of benefits to doing so. How can AMEX payments benefit your business?

What is American Express?

American Express, the U.S. financial services giant, offers Credit Cards - known as AMEX Cards - to eligible UK consumers. Traditionally, AMEX Cards have been associated with affluent lifestyle and spending habits due to their high credit limit, premium rewards and the range of exclusive or invite-only Cards, like the 'Black Card'. But an increasing number of UK retailers now accept AMEX payments; in fact, more than 270,000 UK merchants became American Express-enabled in the two years before December 2019. And with 114.4 million AMEX Cardholders globally by this same date, there are lots of good reasons for UK businesses to look into American Express merchant services.

Why AMEX is often not accepted?

Not everyone is aware of this, but transactions between a customer and a business rely on payment networks such as Visa and Mastercard in order to manage the money transfer with the bank. But isn't AMEX the same as Visa or Mastercard? No, American Express has its own payment network, for which they apply fees to manage the transaction. For this reason, many businesses prefer to accept Visa and Mastercard payments to avoid the higher fees and reduce any additional paperwork. But as we'll explain, that doesn't mean anyone who accepts AMEX payments is making the wrong call.

Why accept American Express?

While some reluctance about taking AMEX payments is understandable, getting set-up as an American Express-enabled merchant could be a smarter decision than you think. Here are some key selling points if you're considering whether to accept AMEX payments:

  • Spending power - AMEX 'Cardmembers' in the UK spend more money - 43% more on average than non-Cardmembers, according to American Express. The same research found that the average pre-tax household income of an American Express Cardmember is 27% higher than a non-Cardmember. So while you may face higher fees for taking AMEX payments, this could potentially be offset by attracting customers with high disposable income.
  • Regular custom - People with AMEX Cards have an incentive to open their wallets as they can get points towards rewards each time they spend. So with an AMEX-equipped merchant service, there's every chance you can attract repeat visitors.
  • Customer loyalty - According to American Express, 46% of their Cardmembers are more likely to try out a business when they see the AMEX logo, and 52% actively look out for it by doing their homework (online or by calling ahead) in advance. Having that unmistakeable blue logo near your card reader could do wonders for your visibility.

How to accept AMEX payments?

Businesses need to register with American Express before they can accept AMEX payments, but as a Tyl merchant, you will automatically be registered with AMEX. Once you've done that, it's advisable to have a card payment terminal that can print receipts, in case of a dispute with a customer, though this isn't essential for a successful transaction. You can take AMEX payments on a Tyl card machine, such as the following:

You can take AMEX payments with the Cardholder present through Chip and PIN, contactless cards or alternatives such as magnetic stripe cards, or in the cardholders' absence by accepting payments online or over the phone. If you see a 'referral' message when you try to take an AMEX payment, visit the American Express customer support page.

Learn more about the Tyl business portal, where you can view your AMEX transactions and can track your customers' AMEX payments.

American Express Payment Services Limited. Registered Office: Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX. Registered in England and Wales with Number 06301718. American Express Payment Services Limited is authorised in the United Kingdom by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Payment Services Regulations 2017 (reference number 484347) for the provision of payment services.

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