Just how widely are American Express cards accepted?

American Express Explorer | Point Hacks
GUIDE: Earning Points
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
TIME TO READ: 3 minutes
POSTED: May 18, 2018
UPDATED: March 14, 2019
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: American Express Membership Rewards

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?

Given big bonus points offers currently running on the American Express Platinum Charge, Business Platinum Charge and Westpac Altitude Black, I thought it would be helpful to answer this question for the benefit of the wider Point Hacks community.

Where is American Express accepted?

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.

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.

Small purchases

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

Medium purchases

  • Supermarkets: Woolworths, Coles, Harris Farm Markets
  • Bottle shops: Liquorland, Dan Murphy’s, First Choice Liquor
  • Department stores: Myer, David Jones, Big W, Kmart, Target
  • Clothes retailers: The Iconic, Zara, Best & Less, Cotton On, Country Road, Espirit, Lowes, Rebel
  • Utilities: Australia Post, City of Sydney, City of Perth, Whitsunday Regional Council
  • Fuel: BP, Coles Express
  • Entertainment: Hoyts, Event Cinemas, Dreamworld, Taronga Zoo
  • Subscription services: Foxtel, Netflix, Stan, Hello Fresh
  • Communications: Telstra, Optus
  • Charities: Australian Red Cross
  • Payment platforms: PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay

Being able to use your American Express card for purchases through digital wallets amplifies your options

Big purchases

  • Airlines: Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Air New Zealand, Expedia
  • Accommodation: Airbnb, Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, Four Seasons, Shangri-La, Crown
  • Car hire: Hertz, Avis, 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
  • Electronics: Apple, Microsoft, Dell

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

How do I maximise points earn?

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.

The American Express Platinum Edge will earn you 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at supermarkets

Summing up

Question: Just how widely are American Express cards accepted?

Answer: Probably more than you originally thought!

Now that American Express cards can be used for a large chunk of your expenditure on groceries, regular bills, travel, entertainment and clothes, 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? was last modified: March 14th, 2019 by Matt Moffitt