Point Hacks reader Milly posted this on the Questions & Answers section of our website:

I see a lot of offers from American Express but I’m not sure that there are that many places I can actually use the card. How easy is it to meet minimum spend requirements with its more limited reach compared to Visa and Mastercard?

Where is American Express accepted in Australia?

It is true that Visa and Mastercard are accepted at more merchants both in Australia and overseas. However, American Express has been expanding its footprint. In 2017-18, more than 135,000 locations were added.

American Express acceptance infographic

The following list of merchants that accept Amex cards is by no means exhaustive—the full list (with search function) is here. Remember that there are also thousands of small businesses that accept American Express.

Big purchases

  • Airlines: Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar, Tigerair, Air New Zealand, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Expedia, Webjet
  • Accommodation: Airbnb, Luxury Escapes, Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Four Seasons, Shangri-La, Crown, Accor Hotels, Agoda
  • Car hire: Hertz, Avis, Budget, Thrifty, Europcar
  • Transport: SkyBus
  • Educational institutions: The University of Sydney, UNSW, Griffith University, Macquarie University, UTS, Bond University, University of Southern Queensland, Moriah College
  • Household goods: Bing Lee, Freedom, Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, Officeworks
  • Electronics: Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Kogan
Cracked mobile phone screen
Buy your phone outright or pay a mobile phone plan with an eligible American Express card and insurance will cover you if the screen breaks

Medium purchases

  • Supermarkets: Woolworths, Coles, Harris Farm Markets
  • Bottle shops: Liquorland, Dan Murphy’s, First Choice Liquor, BWS
  • Department stores: Myer, David Jones, Big W, Kmart, Target, Bunnings Warehouse
  • Clothes retailers: The Iconic, Zara, Best & Less, Cotton On, Country Road, Espirit, Lowes, Rebel, Decathlon, H&M
  • Utilities: Australia Post, City of Sydney, City of Perth, Cairns Regional Council, Central Coast Council, Randwick, Council, Whitsunday Regional Council, Lumo Energy
  • Insurance: Allianz, Bupa, HCF, nib
  • Fuel: BP, Coles Express
  • Entertainment: Hoyts, Event Cinemas, Dreamworld, Taronga Zoo, Ticketek, Ticketmaster, Village Cinemas
  • Subscription services: Foxtel, Netflix, Stan, Hello Fresh, Spotify, Stan
  • Communications: Telstra, Optus
  • Charities: Australian Red Cross
  • Payment platforms: PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay
American Express Apple Pay
Being able to use your American Express card for purchases through digital wallets amplifies your options

Small purchases

  • Food & drink: McDonald’s, Starbucks, Nando’s, Grill’d, TheFork, Merivale, Starbucks, Grill’d, Deliveroo, Menulog, Uber Eats
  • Miscellaneous: Uber, 7-Eleven, NewsLink, Priceline Pharmacy

How do I maximise points earn with American Express cards?

A wise strategy is to choose an American Express card with a large sign-up bonus, use that card where you can, and pair it with a Visa or Mastercard to use where Amex is not accepted.

Due to restrictive bonus points eligibility rules for American Express-issued cards, you should choose the first one you hold carefully so you can earn a big sign-up bonus. Then you could always add on another American Express-issued card like the Platinum Edge, on which you will not earn the sign-up bonus but is great for buying groceries and fuel.

Bananas at a supermarket
You’ll effectively earn 1.5 frequent flyer points per $ spent at supermarkets and petrol stations with the American Express Platinum Edge

Summing up

Question: Just how widely are American Express cards accepted?

Answer: Probably more than you originally thought! American Express cards can be used for a large chunk of your expenditure on groceries, regular bills, travel, entertainment and clothes.

Given the wide range of merchants that accept Amex as a payment method, you shouldn’t have too much trouble meeting minimum spend requirements and/or maximising your ongoing points-earning potential.

Do you have a travel-related question?

  1. Search the Point Hacks website using the Looking For Something? box (located to the right-hand side of any post) to see if we have already answered your question in a post.
  2. You can post your question in the Questions & Answers section of our website and someone from the Point Hacks community, whether another reader or one of our team members, will hopefully be able to help you out.
Just how widely are American Express cards accepted? [infographic] was last modified: January 16th, 2020 by Matt Moffitt