American Express launched one of the first credit cards in the world in 1958, with a focus on travel and entertainment. It now has a total market capitalisation of US$112.52 billion, as of 16 October 2023.
How many people have American Express cards?
There are 76.7 million proprietary American Express cards in circulation around the world, according to Amex's most recent annual investor report.
Cards issued by American Express also account for a total global spend of US$1.338 trillion. This works out to an average yearly spend of US$17,445 per card.
Where is American Express popular?
Amex has reported that the following countries and regions "represent a significant portion of our billed business outside of the United States".
How many Australians pay with American Express?
RBA data shows American Express and Diners Club made up 8.3% of credit and charge card purchase transactions in July 2023. The majority of these transactions are likely to be from Amex cards, because Diners Club has a very limited market presence and doesn't issue its own cards in Australia.
While Mastercard and Visa have the biggest share of transactions, American Express punches above its weight in terms of the value of each purchase.
According to the RBA data, Amex and Diners Club transactions are worth 20.1% of the total value of credit and charge card purchases. This is a significant increase on the value for the same period in 2020 (15.1%).
American Express acceptance in Australia
American Express isn't as widely accepted as Mastercard or Visa in Australia but it is accepted at most major retail stores, as well as other service providers. It also proactively increases its acceptance, with over 194,000 new merchant locations added between January 2017 and December 2022.
Some of the major businesses and brands that accept American Express in Australia include:
- Bunnings Warehouse
- JB Hi-Fi
- The Reject Shop
- Virgin Australia
Popular businesses that don't accept American Express
- Aussie Broadband
- The Coffee Club
- Terry White Chemmart online (individual stores can accept Amex)
American Express is one of the major credit card brands that allows you to earn points for spending with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and other Australian government agencies.
But not all government agencies accept American Express payments. Here are some examples of popular government-related services that do and don't take Amex.
|Government agency or service||Example of payment||Amex acceptance?||Surcharge|
|Australian Taxation Office||Tax bills||Yes||1.45%|
|Access Canberra||Vehicle registration, driver's licence fees||No||N/A|
|Department of Transport WA||Vehicle registration, driver's licence fees||No|
|NT.gov.au||Vehicle registration, driver's licence fees||No||N/A|
|Revenue SA||Emergency Services Levy||No|
|Services NSW||Vehicle registration, driver's licence fees||Yes||1.54%|
|Transport and Main Roads QLD||Vehicle registration, driver's licence fees||Yes||1.40%|
|Transport Tasmania||Vehicle registration, driver's licence fees||No||N/A|
|VicRoads||Vehicle registration, driver's licence fees||No||N/A|
What about council rates?
Finder research has found that the payment methods accepted by local government councils also vary. For example, the City of Sydney accepts American Express payments while the City of Melbourne does not. Contact your local council to find out if it accepts Amex.
How good are American Express cards in Australia?
American Express cards in Australia have a reputation for offering valuable rewards programs and perks. Amex also has a strong focus on supporting small-to-medium businesses, with cards that offer generous rewards and business services.
Between 2017 and 2023, cards issued and provided by American Express have also won 16 Finder Awards across categories including Best Frequent Flyer Credit Card, Best Low Rate Credit Card and Best No Annual Fee Credit Card.
So while Amex is known for offering rewards and perks including lounge passes and insurance, it also sets a high standard with the $0 annual fee and low rate options available in Australia.
Different types of American Express cards in Australia
How many airport lounges does American Express have?
American Express has its own network of over 40 Centurion Lounges around the world. This includes 2 in Australia:
- The Centurion Lounge at Sydney International Airport
- The Centurion Lounge at Melbourne International Airport
American Express also has cards that offer Qantas or Virgin Australia lounge passes, similar to some other frequent flyer credit cards on the market in Australia.
American Express card costs
In Australia, Amex cards for personal use have annual fees ranging from $0 to $1,450, outside of any introductory offers. Business and corporate Amex cards have annual fees that start at $70 and go up to $1,750.
Other potential costs to consider include:
- Variable interest rates for purchases: 10.99% p.a. to 23.99% p.a.
- Foreign transaction fees: 3%
- Average surcharge cost (when applied by a business): 1.35%
How do Mastercard and Visa credit card costs compare?
While Amex has the biggest range for its annual fees, this is largely because of the high fees on the American Express Platinum Card and Amex Platinum Business Card ($1,450 and $1,750 respectively). The rest of its range has annual fees similar to other brands on the market.
The interest rates and foreign transaction fees on Mastercard and Visa credit cards are also similar. In fact, there are some credit cards with higher purchase interest rates than Amex, which currently go up to around 27%.
But Amex cards do typically have higher surcharges when businesses choose to pass on this cost, with the RBA reporting average merchant fees of 0.89% for Mastercard and 0.9% for Visa. That's around 45 basis points lower than the average merchant fee for Amex (1.35%).
Complaints and customer satisfaction
According to data from the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), American Express was the third-most complained-about credit card issuer in 2022.
|Financial firm||Complaints received|
|Commonwealth Bank of Australia||624|
|Citigroup Pty Limited||553|
|American Express Australia Limited||487|
|Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ)||475|
|Latitude Finance Australia||446|
Source: AFCA data for complaints by product group (credit cards) between 01/01/2022 and 31/01/2022
But a lot of Australians would still recommend Amex to their friends, with the 2023 Finder Credit Card Customer Satisfaction Awards ranking it fourth for overall satisfaction.
Credit card provider ratings 2023
|Brand||Overall satisfaction||Customers who'd recommend|
|American Express||★★★★★ 4.10/5||82%|
The number of American Express employees
- Australia and New Zealand: Over 1,500 employees
- UK: Over 5,000 employees
- Global total 2022–23: 77,300 employees
Source: American Express company reports between 2020 and 2023
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