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Amex could be accepted more widely in 2024 – here’s why

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With the launch of OptBlue, American Express has a new strategy to make it easier and more affordable for small businesses to accept Amex cards.

OptBlue is partnered with 2 of Australia's leading merchant acquirers, Fiserv and Tyro Payments, to give small businesses a way to process American Express transactions at a competitive rate to the other card schemes.

OptBlue will also give businesses the benefit of one statement and settlement process for all card transactions.

For people with Amex cards, the result should be wider acceptance.

"Ultimately, the value in it is that we're removing any of the friction points that small businesses have historically seen... with American Express," Stacey Rylands, vice president of merchant acquisition for American Express Australia and New Zealand told Finder.

This could also lead to lower surcharges when you pay with an Amex card.

"It is up to the small business what they surcharge, but the way that we are ultimately positioned, there isn't a need to have American Express positioned separately," Rylands said.

Where is Amex accepted in Australia?

American Express cards are not as readily accepted as Mastercard or Visa cards.

But you can pay with Amex cards at most major retailers, including Coles, Woolworths, Bunnings Warehouse, Apple and even McDonalds.

"We are bold and aggressive around ensuring that wherever our card members need acceptance, we're able to show up," Rylands said.

In the run-up to the launch of OptBlue, 136,000 new places to pay with American Express have been added in Australia over the past 12 months, Rylands explained.

"As well as another 90,000 in the healthcare industry through our partnership with HIGHCAPS," Rylands said.

Rylands said OptBlue is set to "supercharge the scale of our merchant network".

It has already helped increase acceptance in the US, Canada and Mexico.

In fact, American Express cards can now be used at 99% of all US businesses that accept credit cards.

"What it's all about is being able to be accepted, wherever [people] want to spend," Rylands said.

Support for small businesses

American Express has a lot of initiatives to support small businesses, including Shop Small campaigns and marketing opportunities.

Rylands said OptBlue could also help make card payments simpler and attract new customers.

"I think, ultimately, the economic pressure across the board is impacting not only consumers, but small businesses at large.

"So that's why we're looking at ways that we can support, whether that be providing more competitive rates for small businesses, or actually looking at avenues to enable them to be part of the marketing engine that American Express offers," she said.

Another potential benefit for small businesses is that Amex card members tend to spend more than other people.

"They spend 3.4 times more than non-card members and 2.4 times more per purchase."

Rylands told Finder there had also been a record number of Gen X and millennial Australians getting Amex cards.

"So they want to spend and be rewarded for that," she said.

"And I'm really looking forward to getting to that point where there is never a time where American Express is not accepted by small businesses. "

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Image: Getty Images

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