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What's so good about American Express?

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What's so good about American Express?

edited 30 November -1 at 12:00AM in Credit Cards
62 replies 38.2K views
Jlawson118Jlawson118 Forumite
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edited 30 November -1 at 12:00AM in Credit Cards
I remember back when I was 18, I tried to apply for an AMEX card for the travel insurance benefits, not knowing they were so hard to be a part of :rotfl:

I remember my grandad saying he once got offered one when he was working but he declined the offer, but back then they were really rare to be a part of. But in all fairness, I look around now and I think I've only ever seen one American Express card and even then that wasn't in England.

I've heard from numerous people that they are a credit card that everybody wants. Yet I don't understand why when quite a few places don't even accept it. I used d the Lloyds Avios cards last year and tried to use the AMEX wherever I could opposed to the MasterCard because that one offered more points. But a lot of places I shopped just didn't accept it.

So what is the big deal really?
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Replies

  • PeacefulWatersPeacefulWaters Forumite
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    Take a look at their product range.

    Cashback benefits. Loyalty points. Up front incentives.

    Work out values. Offset any fees. Take it from there.

    The standard British Airways AMEX card currently has a 9,000 Avios incentive. One route I intend to fly costs £288 return. Those Avios would reduce my costs to £35.

    For me there's a £253 value to obtain that card and meet minimum spend requirements.
  • edited 2 January 2017 at 7:48AM
    Ben8282Ben8282
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    edited 2 January 2017 at 7:48AM
    I am discussing here Amex issued products and not products issued under licence by banks.

    The Amex product was originally a charge card only product. The credit card, originally branded 'Optima', did not appear until the late 80's or early 90's.
    Back in the 70's and 80's, an Amex charge card really was essential for business travellers. The slogan 'don't leave home without it' was good advice. The Visa/MasterCard systems simply did not have the level of international acceptance with airlines, hotels etc. If you had tried to use an Access or Barclaycard in many countries in, for example, a major hotel you would have got nowhere. The Amex card would have done nicely though. Similarly, most airlines worldwide would accept Amex while those accepting Access or Barclaycard were very limited.
    In the 90's things changed. Mastercards and Visa cards became much more internationally acceptable. Amex lost their major advantage.
    Their product range has changed, offering credit cards along with the charge cards. Credit cards with incentives that only they can offer as they charge the merchants higher fees.
    Acceptability can be a problem and affects some people more than others. I no longer hold any Amex issued product as a result of a row with Amex over acceptability problems, which to an extent were specific to me. It got to the point where it appeared that I was paying a high fee for a charge card that I had to have arguments with merchants (who accepted the card) to actually get them to accept it. They were constantly saying things like 'don't you have a MasterCard or Visa. Amex charge us too much' or words to that effect.
    There was also the problem of the charge card direct debits. Originally the statements came from Brighton and the direct debit was 21 days later. Then the direct debit was reduced to 14 days. Then to 7 days. Then they started posting the statements from Ft Lauderdale. I will never forget one morning in the late 90's. I was on my way to work. I was a bit late and the postman actually arrived before I left. There was an envelope with a Ft Lauderdale postmark. It contained my Amex charge card statement. Direct debit to be taken the next day.(this was of course pre-online statements or online banking). I tried to tell them this was not acceptable but they were not responsive and actually said that I should not be spending on the charge card unless I already had the money to pay in my account!
    The final straw was about 12 years ago. I used to fly regularly with a certain airline which.stopped accepting Amex and actually stated a reason for their decision. The high fee charged. Not to worry I thought. I will book through Amex travel service. I accepted the £25 Amex travel service charge to issue the ticket. Then I was told sorry the airline doesn't accept Amex cards. Yes I know. That's why I am booking through you. We can't accept Amex card as the airline don't accept it. Yes I know. You should accept it in your own right. Sorry we can't do that. But you are Amex travel service. I can pay by Amex for anything. No you can't. Not if the airline doesn't accept Amex. Why not? Because Amex charge us too high a fee.
    I gave up.
    I downgraded the charge card to Green.
    Amex did not like this decision to downgrade.

    Having said all of this, I did use an Amex charge card extensively over a period of decades so I guess that I must have been generally satisfied with the product. There is also the prestige value of presenting one of the higher level charge cards in appropriate places, although this turns a bit sour when they take one look at it and say 'Haven't you got a Mastercard or Visa.

    If we talk about products using the Amex payment system rather than Amex issued products as such, then the sole purpose of the second Amex card is to be able to collect the higher fees from the Merchants and pass it on to the cardholder in terms of rewards. In this sense, such Amex cards benefit the holder as he/she gets the rewards, Avios or whatever, at a higher rate which makes these cards desireable. As these products often come as duo products, the second card can be used in places where Amex is not accepted, albeit with a lower of rewards due to the lower charge to the merchant.
  • SuperscroogeSuperscrooge Forumite
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    Jlawson118 wrote: »
    I've heard from numerous people that they are a credit card that everybody wants. Yet I don't understand why when quite a few places don't even accept it. I used d the Lloyds Avios cards last year and tried to use the AMEX wherever I could opposed to the MasterCard because that one offered more points. But a lot of places I shopped just didn't accept it.

    So what is the big deal really?

    Amex offer good incentives such as with the platinum cashback card, 5% cashback for first three months, amongst other incentives. I have also found their customer services very good.

    https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/content/platinum-cashback-credit-card/cm/?intlink=uk-amex-cardshop-carousel-platcbcredit&appstart=true&s_tntref=https://www.americanexpress.com

    However it is a pain that Amex is not more readily accepted. Not sure if it is just my impression? But I find acceptance seems much higher in London, or other large cities. In more rural areas acceptance rates seems much lower.
  • PeacefulWatersPeacefulWaters Forumite
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    The OP has so many alternative bank cards that he'll have no issues with retailers that don't accept Amex.
  • edited 2 January 2017 at 10:51AM
    A4445A4445 Forumite
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    edited 2 January 2017 at 10:51AM
    I've got a BA Amex. I don't think it was particularly hard to get I have a good payment history and very low levels of debt. I pay my cards in full each month. Their customer service is excellent and their online banking is great.
  • WillPSWillPS Forumite
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    Amex is not the right card if you only want to have one card in your wallet for spending. There are quite a few shops that don't accept it.

    It's worth having alongside a Visa/Mastercard for a couple of reasons though -

    1 - the rewards. The ongoing rewards on the Platinum Cashback, Nectar and BA cards are second to none. The only offer that comes close that I'm aware of is the Barclaycard Cashback card (which is not offered to new customers) - but to get the level of earning on that equal to the Platinum Cashback you have to use the Amex card they give you anyway.

    2 - the customer service. They are fantastic - always get through to someone in Brighton, rarely have to wait, usually given what I need there and then. Charge disputes are *so much* easier through Amex too - put simply they will refund there and then and sort it all out on their end; in my experience with Natwest Mastercard you're sent declarations which you have to return by post. One final example - they are so fast at issuing replacement cards; with Amex it seems to be sent that day and arrives the next.

    The lack of universal acceptance is a faff but it is what it is. You learn which of your regular shops take, and which shops are likely/unlikely to.

    In general premium retailers are likely to accept it, cheap shops are unlikely to. Also independent stores are less likely to accept it than chains.

    There are exceptions - for example Paperchase, which I would think of as a 'premium' chain, don't accept it. On the flip side - Poundland, which I would think of as a cheap shop, *do* accept it.

    It's hit and miss. But in my view unless only having one card for spending is important to you for some reason it'd be silly to miss out on the rewards (which are typically double what the equivalent Visa/MC product would be, sometimes more) for retailers which do accept it.

    I've never found it embarrassing asking if a retailer will take a card I want to use. In fact - a lot of the time I just stick my Amex in and see what happens.
  • The OP has so many alternative bank cards that he'll have no issues with retailers that don't accept Amex.

    Really iam surprised
  • A4445 wrote: »
    I've got a BA Amex. I don't think it was particularly hard to get I have a good payment history and very low levels of debt. I pay my cards in full each month. The customer is excellent and their online banking is great.

    I agree with you frnd
  • B19JONB19JON Forumite
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    I've only ever wanted one because my parents have one.

    I've had the plat cashback, green, gold and plat charge cards.

    Fantastic customer services. Brilliant reward scheme, great benefits.

    Acceptance is an issue; but I knew what I was getting into.
  • JuicyJesusJuicyJesus Forumite
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    I have the Platinum Cashback. Their online servicing is fantastic; their customer service is great; there's a good selection of cash back offers to be used; they're the only card company to fully implement all the features of Apple Pay (e.g. getting notifications for every spend on the card, even if not done through Apple Pay) which is incredibly useful. Acceptance is fine, I'd say 90% of the time I've been able to use it, the other 10% is no biggie and I can just use my debit card. For all of this I'm on course to have about £230 cashback in a year, which will nicely offset the £25 annual fee. The only real issue is that some stores' card terminals aren't geared up to accept Amex via Apple Pay or contactless, which is hardly a massive issue and is more to the point not actually Amex's fault.

    I'm happy with Amex. If they reduce the cash back to the point that the £25 annual fee isn't worth it, I'll probably cancel, but otherwise I'm a happy bunny.
    urs sinserly,
    ~~joosy jeezus~~
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