Where is your American Express card accepted?

Feb 16, 2022

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.

There is a misconception in the U.K. that American Express is not widely accepted. In the past, this may have been a little closer to the truth — but it is certainly not anymore.

American Express acceptance is one of the most common questions I get when talking about earning rewards through cards. With American Express offering the broadest range and most lucrative products, using an Amex card becomes a necessity for points and miles collectors.

And, of course, that would create a problem if you couldn’t easily use one.

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Why was this the case?

Historically, American Express charged retailers higher rates when customers paid using Amex-issued cards. However, with the introduction of the European Union’s 0.3% cap on interchange fees many years ago, which applies to some Amex cards, and moves like Amex’s Shop Small programme and the increasing desire of businesses to open themselves up to spending from all customers, more and more places accept Amex.

Related: The UK’s most lucrative credit card perk: A review of the British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card

Which merchants accept Amex?

There are now more than 35,000 U.K. retailers that accept payment by an American Express card. Here are some of the key places. Note that these are the places where you are most are likely spend the majority of your money:

  • All major supermarkets (including Lidl, Aldi, Morrisons, Ocado and Iceland);
  • Most restaurant chains including Nando’s and Domino’s, all but the smallest independents, though the higher the menu is priced, the more likely they will accept American Express;
  • Uber, Uber Eats, Just Eat and Deliveroo;
  • All Bar One, Greene King and Wetherspoons pubs;
  • Petrol stations;
  • Train travel (London Underground, National Rail, Eurostar);
  • Most major airlines, even low-cost carriers like EasyJet and Ryanair;
  • The Post Office;
  • Major high street retailers;
  • Amazon;
  • Argos;
  • B&Q;
  • Lego;
  • Boots;
  • Some utility providers including Bulb and Octopus Energy;
  • eBay;
  • Poundland;
  • Subscriptions (like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify); and
  • Almost everywhere else online (most places online accept Amex, and often when they don’t, use an Amex linked to a Paypal account where possible).

In fact, only the smallest corner shop-type retailers hold out against American Express. But these days, it’s rare that even these guys won’t take your card.

I was surprised on a visit to Leeds that even the Mr Whippy van in Roundhay Park accepted Amex.

Bottom line

American Express is not difficult to use, so let your fears melt away. Just be prepared for some of those corner shop purchases, which may not take it. If this is the case you may wish to have a non-American Express card in your wallet as a backup.

But there’s no need for acceptance to stand between you and earning points.

Featured image by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy

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