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Where Can I Use My American Express Card?


American Express has a long and established history of offering competitive products, but not too long ago, there was one big drawback to carrying an Amex in your wallet. I’m a long-term Amex customer myself, and about a decade ago, it was rare to go a full week without hearing the dreaded, “Sorry, we don’t take American Express.”

Fortunately, this pain point has largely been resolved, at least for using American Express cards in the United States. But that isn’t necessarily the case when traveling abroad, so here’s a quick overview of where you can and cannot use your American Express card as of 2024.

American Express in the United States

As mentioned, American Express’ acceptance rate has increased dramatically over the past decade or so domestically. In the United States, among merchants who accept card payments, Amex has a 99% acceptance rate. This essentially means that the cards are now universally accepted in the U.S.

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One notable exception is Costco. American Express actually had an exclusive agreement with Costco at one point, but for the past several years, the only type of credit card you can use at Costco is Visa.

If you want to know whether a particular store accepts American Express, the issuer has a useful retailer map you can use to search.

International acceptance of Amex cards

Although American Express cards are almost universally accepted in the United States, they aren’t nearly as welcomed in many international countries. This is a sharp contrast to Visa and Mastercard, which combine to make up about 63% of all credit card transactions worldwide. Amex cards account for less than 5%.

To be fair, American Express has tripled its international acceptance rate since 2017, but it still falls behind the other major payment networks.

According to Experian, there are a few specific countries where American Express is widely accepted, especially in large cities. These include Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Australia, Singapore, and India.

You’ll generally find that it can be a reliable payment option in many cities, but just keep in mind that it doesn’t exactly have the same 99% acceptance rate outside of the United States. And countries with poor U.S. relations (Cuba, Iran, etc.) generally don’t have Amex acceptance at all.

However, it’s important to mention that Amex continues to do a great job of expanding its global footprint, so its international acceptance should continue to improve for years to come.

The final verdict

Amex has done a fantastic job in recent years of ensuring that its customers don’t typically need to have a backup card with them when shopping in the United States. However, that is simply not the case when traveling abroad. So if you’re planning an international trip anytime soon, it could be a smart idea to have another travel card with no foreign transaction fees in your wallet when you do.

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