Do I Need to Have an American Express Account Before Applying?

American Express is not always accepted by retailers and merchants due to the higher fees applied when a customer swipes his or her AMEX card. If you are already accepting American Express, you have a wider customer base than a merchant who does not accept it.

AMEX cardholders will seek out stores and eCommerce businesses that accept their card and if you want to secure more customers, accepting AMEX is the way to go.

There are two options for merchants looking to acquire an AMEX account. You can either apply directly through your merchant account provider or you can apply directly through AMEX.

Applying Through Your Merchant Account Provider

American Express recently rolled out with a new US small merchant acquiring program called AMEX OptBlue. This allows your merchant provider to complete the application form and set up the AMEX account for you.

This is a great option for merchants because all of the work of setting up AMEX is on the merchant account provider’s end. Although, there are some factors that may make a business ineligible for OptBlue including:

  • High ticket number
  • Level of risk
  • Business model
  • Annual processing volume

Applying Through American Express

If your business is ineligible for OptBlue, you can apply for an account directly on the company website. The steps are simple:

  1. Visit the American Express website
  2. Once you have reached the merchant page, click “Apply Now.”
  3. The application should not take more than ten minutes.
  4. After your application is approved by AMEX, you will be provided a 10-digit code.
  5. Give the 10-digit code to your merchant account provider, and they will integrate AMEX into your account.


The application process for American Express is quick and straightforward. Once you have your American Express account set up, you can begin accepting AMEX cards and your business will benefit from the additional sales it receives.