Credit Card Processing

5 Reasons to Ask for OptBlue Pricing if You Take American Express


April 22, 2023

Like many businesses, you probably think of American Express as the expensive credit card to accept. That’s changing thanks to American Express’s alternate pricing, called OptBlue.

If you already take American Express cards or are considering accepting them at your business, you’ll want to make sure your processor charges you with OptBlue. Here’s why:

It’s Cheaper

Well, probably.

The OptBlue pricing is a “cost plus” model, so if you’re not on a tiered pricing model and if have a competitive processor markup, you’ll likely save money. But be careful – those two factors can be big ‘ifs.’ To see if you have a competitive markup, you can sign up for a free CardFellow account to allow you to compare costs and help you decide whether to take American Express at your business.

It’s More Transparent

Cost plus pricing models are more transparent because you’ll see the actual cost to process American Express cards. It won’t be hidden from you, unless your processor hides it. If they do, switch processors! A competitive processor will always show you what you’re paying.

Faster Access to Funds

OptBlue aims to fix another problem that businesses have previously had with American Express, namely that funds aren’t deposited as quickly as they are with other cards. On American Express’s OptBlue site, they state that payments will arrive for businesses in the same timeframes as other card types. That’s great news for businesses, when quick access to funds from credit card sales can make all the difference.

Rates Not Set by American Express

Under the previous AMEX pricing (called OnePoint), Amex set the final rate to accept American Express cards. Your processor had no control over it. Now, your processor’s markup will dictate your final cost, meaning there’s room to negotiate. If you have a competitive processing solution from a reputable credit card processing company, you may not even need to negotiate to enjoy lower costs.

Lower Fees are Available to Some Business Types

Like Visa and Mastercard’s interchange, which offers lower rates for certain industries, American Express’s OptBlue pricing is divided into categories with rates associated. OptBlue has additional categories for businesses such as healthcare. This means that certain business types that don’t see benefits in the form of lower fees from Visa or Mastercard may have lower fees under American Express’s OptBlue pricing.

American Express frequently posts statistics about its cardholders’ purchase patterns, indicating that many people who pay with an American Express card often spend more than Visa or Mastercard users. If the acceptance costs have been holding you back from taking Amex cards, OptBlue pricing may be worth checking into. (Note that eventually only OptBlue pricing will be available to businesses, but there are no current deadlines for when that will happen.)

One warning: Just because you’re on OptBlue pricing for American Express doesn’t mean your processor can’t gouge you.

If you’re on a tiered pricing model or have a high processor markup, you may not see benefits from OptBlue pricing. If you need help deciding whether to take American Express cards, be sure to read our article about OptBlue pricing or sign up for free quotes from processors through CardFellow and indicate that you’d like to see costs for American Express.

Ben Dwyer

BY Ben Dwyer

Ben Dwyer began his career in the processing industry in 2003 on the sales floor for a Connecticut‐based processor. As he learned more about the inner‐workings of the industry, rampant unethical practices, and lack of assistance available to businesses, he cut ties with his employer and started a blog where he could post accurate information about credit card processing. As the blog gained in popularity, Ben began directly assisting merchants in their search for a processor. Ben believes in empowering businesses by providing access to fair, competitive pricing, accurate information, and continued support. His dedication to transparency and education has made CardFellow a staunch small business advocate in the credit card processing industry.

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