American Express Overview

American Express is a New York-based financial services provider that is best known worldwide for its credit card, the American Express Credit Card, or “Amex Card” for short. Founded in 1850 as a postal service provider, the U.S. company now competes directly with MasterCard and Visa and ranks third in the global credit card rankings. In this article, we would like to discuss the advantages of using American Express for customers and companies and the acceptance of the card in Germany.

What is the difference between American Express and other credit cards?

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The biggest difference between an American Express card and other credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard is that they are not issued by licensees such as banks and savings banks. So if the customer is interested in an Amex card, he has to order it directly on the website. This also leads to the comparatively low market share of 5 percent, both in Germany and worldwide. Nevertheless, American Express, with 55,000 employees worldwide and a turnover of more than 33 billion US dollars, is one of the most successful financial service providers.

In contrast to MasterCard and Visa, the company is more in the premium segment. The reasons for this are the higher fees and additional services, depending on the product. Depending on the main purpose for which the credit card is used, different offers from the American Express portfolio come into question.

The variants of the credit card offered by American Express:

  • Blue Card: The free basic variant, including an additional card. With Membership Rewards, American Express offers its customers a special program for collecting bonus points. In addition, the customer benefits from discounts, credits and can collect points with numerous acceptance partners.
  • PAYBACK American Express Card: Instead of participating in the Membership Rewards program, the customer participates in the PAYBACK program. The card itself is free of charge.
  • Gold Card: The monthly fee is 12 euros and the starting credit is 50 euros. In return, the customer automatically participates in the Membership Reward program and can redeem his points for air travel, for example.
  • Platinum Card: The monthly fee is 55 euros. The Gold Card benefits include a 200 euro starting credit and a metal Platinum Card. In addition, the customer receives an annual travel credit of 200 euros, double priority access to more than 1,200 airport lounges, valet parking at the 8 largest German airports, status upgrades with airlines, hotels and rental cars, a personal Platinum service and a SIXT ride credit of 200 euros per year.

No matter which format the customer chooses, thanks to SafeKey they benefit from comprehensive buyer protection, as well as protection in the event of card misuse through no fault of their own and worldwide replacement in the event of card loss. In addition, there is no points expiry with the Payback, Gold and Platinum Card, as well as many other rewards.

What about American Express acceptance?

When a customer decides to use the Amex card or a company decides to integrate American Express, both must be prepared for two disadvantages. The first point is the acceptance of the credit card. Although American Express speaks of many millions of acceptance points on its own website, the acceptance is not comparable with that of MasterCard and Visa, especially in retail.

One of the main reasons for this is the second disadvantage, which mainly affects businesses. American Express charges significantly higher fees to retailers than its competitors.

The 0.3 per cent limit that applies to Visa and MasterCard credit cards does not apply to Amex cards. Here, 1.9 per cent is due. This is the main reason why many restaurants or shops do not accept Amex. However, if the customer can pay with Amex, he or she will not notice this. The fees are usually not passed on. Especially in online retail, only one general fee, if any, is charged for all credit cards.


American Express card is mandatory for businesses despite high fees

Considering American Express does not seem to make sense at first glance due to the high fees for subscription providers. However, especially in the premium segment, the American Express card has a comparatively high coverage. Many self-employed people and small businesses, for example, use Amex as a secondary credit card to separate their personal spending from their business spending. So it is definitely advisable to consider American Express in the payment method portfolio in order to also reach the affluent target group.