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American Express - do You?

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by echavez123, Aug 7, 2010.

  1. echavez123

    echavez123 MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    We accept Visa, MC, Check and Cash. We have the ability to use American Express, but we dont, due to the higher fee and the time to receive the funds. Yesterday, a customer wanted to pay for his order with an American Express card for $3500. I told him, sorry we dont accept American Express, and held my breath. Customer whips out the Visa/debit.

    I was a bit concerned I might not get the order because of the American Express. I just dont want to open a can of worms. Is it worth accepting the American Express? How many times have you lost an order because you did not accept it?

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  2. JWB9999999

    JWB9999999 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I was accepting it within 4 days of buying my shop, so I can't tell you how many orders I could have lost. But I can tell you that often your fees for Visa/MC are going to be equal to or higher than Amex's fees, especially if you do much business with people using government or corporate cards. Check the fee schedule of your provider.
  3. Kyle Henson

    Kyle Henson CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I'v never understood not accepting whatever payment your customer wants to give you. My amex interchange rate is not that much different from the rest. I also find that my average amex sale is significantly higher than MC/Visa/Discover. Also, the amex percentage is the same no matter the card. In some instances the MC/Visa rate can be higher if the card is a non-qual, corporate, or rewards card.
  4. HangingAroundHoover

    HangingAroundHoover MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I held out and didn't accept AE the 1st year of business but I started taking it and haven't looked back. In this economy if a customer is trying to pay me, I'm willing to take any form of payment short of food stamps or a fatted calf :) It's just the cost of doing business.
  5. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    No and None.
  6. janetj1968

    janetj1968 PFG, Picture Framing God

    I've never known of anyone who didn't have an AE to not have a VISA. While I may get a few disappointed looks, I've never lost a sale. (Or lost more money, by accepting it.)
  7. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    The difference in fees between AMEX and Visa on a $3500 order is miniscule, not even worth discussing, but far less than losing the $3500 order altogether because the company only provided an AMEX card to its employee, or because he wants 3500 points for using his AMEX card.

    This has been beaten to death, but it's worth repeating: your customer wants to pay you, don't make it inconvenient for him!!!!!!
  8. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    Visa/MC/Discover/Am Ex.
  9. Puppiesonacid

    Puppiesonacid SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    whatever they want to pay with is fine with me. id say over 50% of my customers use amex.
  10. AWG

    AWG SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Have always accepted it; always will. Our best customers have it and want to use it. If you feel your processing cost is too high, search for a different processor. We recently changed - lower fees and next-day access to AMEX money were the result. DON"T MAKE IT HARD to do business with you!
  11. wpfay

    wpfay Angry Badger

    One lost sale, back in the 80's. Customer from out of town wanted to buy a piece of art, and all they had was AMEX. I was in the middle of sorting out a problem with AMEX (they had set me up with 2 accounts and things were getting complex) and had closed the account temporarily. Missed a sale of about $350.00.
    If you really compare the full cost of AMEX vs. anyone else, they are a tad higher on the average, but I take a lot of corporate "P" cards and the overall discount for them is a lot higher than AMEX.
  12. RParrish

    RParrish PFG, Picture Framing God

  13. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Don't leave home without it....

    This statement by Kassandra sums it up perfectly.

    Do a search in the archives and you will find dozens of threads on this subject... at least twice a year this subject has been discussed.

    Our third Black AMX came into our shop this past quarter. Is that the type of customer you want to ask, "Do you have a different CC?" :rolleyes:

  14. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I take cash, checks, Visa, MasterCard, Amex and fatted calves. :p
    But for some reason the owner's here do not want to take Discover.
  15. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    My father's gallery never used to accept Amex. He started his shop in 1967. I don't know if he started accepting it when he retired and sold the business in 2001. I opened my shop in 2001 and started accepting it in 2002.

    Nowadays, people buy french fries in the drive thru with credit cards. It's different than it used to be 20+ years ago. The more inconvenience you make it to let customers give you their money, the less they will want to return. Many of them count on their purchases adding up to a free flight, or other perks their cards give them. ...so I'd say either accept it, or accept a probable lower income because of people choosing to shop elsewhere, if they have the choice.
  16. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    This discussion just made me realize that in our gallery
    I don't even have a cash box
    and since I came on board
    this past February 15th I have never had anyone
    want to pay with cash!!!

    Everything is credit, debit or checks!!!

    If I ever need to change some money
    I can run next door. They are open whenever
    we are so that wouldn't be a problem.
  17. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    cash/check/mc/visa/amex and discover

    Personally, I don't have an amex card, but I love to use my discover card.
    Unfortunately, not everyone accepts it.

    I can get some of the same services/goods at different kind of places. Guess what; I'll go to the merchant who accepts Discover card.

    Do the merchants ever know they lost me as a customer because they don't accept my Discover card? No, they don't, because I don't tell.

    Now think of this above scenario and apply it to your own customer.

    Unless you don't have any competition or other advantages over your competitors; accept all forms of payments.

    (I know Jeff has great prices, so his customers won't go anywhere else if they can't pay with their amex, but most of us here are fighting for every customer we can get)
  18. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Would you be willing to pay 3 times as much at the other place. That's why I don't worry about it and have lost no customers because I don't accept Discover or AMEX. It's all about controlling costs and my customers apreciate the huge savings they receive.

    Sorry Ylva, I jumped in too fast before I saw your disclaimer there.
  19. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    We have had 2 Black AMEX in the past couple months. And both sales were over what our goal for the day was. Those are definately the customers that you want to know that you gladly accept their card.
  20. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner

    I just looked at my last 50 orders: 23 were paid with AE,

    If I look at my credit card processor statement, the Visa / MC fees are as bad or even worse.
  21. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I'd say you're operating on a "we have the best for less" mantra, and your customers are keenly aware of how your prices in particular compare, so people will make compromises to shop with you. With most of us (I suspect) we don't sell for as low as you do, and our customers may think we are at least on par or higher than BB stores, so then it's a matter of will this shop or the next shop take my Amex card. My two pennies.
  22. HB

    HB SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Very interesting & relevant. Good points made too!

    How can one tell refusing AMEX hurts them. In some areas it may be very obvious. I would say that if any of your clients had AMEX but didn't have any other card, you should consider it.

    Is that all a client has?
    Does your competition carry it?
    Are AMEX users the bigger ticket clients?
    Is the higher cost justified by the benefit to your client?
    Does your store offer other benefits to an AMEX user that offsets their desire to go anywhere else to use that card?
  23. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    We do!

    Almost every 'high end job' customer seems to whip out an Amex. (perhaps for prestige, perhaps because they get a cash back reward for doing so?) The Visa/MC rates are often higher than or equal to Amex, and the difference is not 300%. The average difference is probably a fraction of a percent.

    Our prices are calculated to assume the worst case scenario, regardless of payment type. I'd rather take an Amex than a check, tbh. Very few Visa/MC/Discover cards these days are at the base rate. It's all about the 'cash back bonus' promos.

  24. JFeig

    JFeig SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    And most of the Visa/MC transactions are on rewards and or other non-qualifying cards.
  25. PicturedFramer

    PicturedFramer MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Hello Ernesto
    My question is why haven't you taken Amex? Is it the fees?
    If my customer wants to pay with a Black Amex (which you can charge a Boeing Dreamline 787 on, the whole plane) who am I to stop him or her and say we don't take Amex because I think I'm being frugal?
    Does it make a statement about your business. Will they come back to you for other high end jobs?
    Call right now and get hooked up with Amex before they come back!
  26. pwalters

    pwalters SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    So we've pretty much weeded out that the fees aren't much different. Many have said that there is a large % of transactions that people opt to use their Amex for. Some have inferred (and we know statistically in our shop) that their Amex transactions are usually a higher average.

    So tell me again, why would a shop not take Amex? Seems like you are holding yourself back potentially.

    I would contend that in many cases the customer might be willing to pull out another card and you might not lose that sale, but how do you know that they don't go elsewhere the next time they have a need? Or that the fact that you don't take Amex doesn't give them a reason to not come in as frequently. Like my small business mentor told me 10 years ago that I thought was great advice "You're a business. Start acting like one."
  27. FramerDave

    FramerDave PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm stealing that line. Thank you.
  28. blackiris

    blackiris SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    American Express = RAPISTS!

    I have not ever taken then and HAVE NEVER lost a sale because of it!
    And I'm not going to start accepting it either. I have POSTED what I accept. MY RULES ....MY BIZ
  29. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Depends on where you are located. If you are here you will get skreeeeeeeeeeewed. Vickie will usually chime in at this point and say that the fees are not higher but she is 30 miles away and in a different state. Very few independant businesses in Myrtle Beach accept it and most customers expect to not be able to use it. They usually say "Just Checking because so many places say no to AMEX here".
  30. pwalters

    pwalters SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    It's definitely your rules and your biz, but to be fair, you never know what you might have lost because of not accepting it. Just sayin.

    I use one both personally and professionally and I will tell you that there are businesses that I won't frequent because they don't accept them. One case in point is that there are two dairy queens near my house. We go to the one that is farther away (only by about 1/4 mile) when we go for ice cream because I know the other one doesn't accept Amex. I went there once to buy a cake and they didn't accept it so I don't go back. I paid with my debit card at that time, no problem. Didn't say a word. But they don't know that they lost my business almost two years ago because they don't. Just one example of it.

    Plus, most of our corporate clients really prefer using Amex sometimes even over an invoice because of the points and ease of use.
  31. pwalters

    pwalters SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    True. I should have clarified that when someone is using Visa/MC reward cards (which more and more are becoming these days (and even more in the years to come, since the CARD act) so the fees are much closer to Amex than people think.
  32. blackiris

    blackiris SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    LOST WHAT? They still pay me when I say no......and they still come back.........:shrug:

    I CANT see that being the deciding factor if they place and order or not.

    Most people have mulitple cards.... if not...write me a check.
    If they want to know WHY I dont accept it....I tell them.....they understand....no one is going to put a big RED X on your biz JUST BECUZ you dont take a certain card.....That's freaking ridiculous......
  33. Framing Queen

    Framing Queen CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I have never lost an order because I don't accept AMEX. They simply produce a different card. And, if they wouldn't come back because of that, why would they place the order in the first place and pay for it with an alternate card?

    Not everyplace accepts AMEX because of their fees and the time it takes to deposit. Anyone who thinks the black AMEX fees and their normal MC/VISA fees are close or the same, needs to seriously shop their cc processing around. In some cases, the black AMEX card can rise to over 6% of sale.

  34. echavez123

    echavez123 MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I am confused - there seems to be two extremes, one being that the Amex fees are comparable and maybe even lower, and the other being up to 3 times the fee amount, 6% - really?

    I think I should call my rep and get something in writing to make comparisons -- lets see

    1) 6% of $3500 = $210

    2) 1.75% of $3500 = $61.25

    Thats a difference of $148. 75 this is significant in my books! You may argue that I may lose business without even knowing it because I dont take Amex; however, "IF" you have something that people really want, I believe they will forego the Amex and whip out the Visa. The opposite is also likely; "IF" the customer can get what they want someplace else where Amex is accepted, they may choose to do so. That is why it is soooooo important that we do the best job we can on every job, so the customer percieves the real value. Amex is a perk, a status symbol. In this case, what the customer really wants is the orginal art (photography), which we own.

    BTW, I have an Amex too.

  35. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The fees are regional so nobdy can really tell you what it might be in your area other than your processor. Fees also vary by processor so in my case I went with one that prefers to process Visa/MC and therefore gives better rates for those cards. If I were to go with one that gives a better rate on AMEX I would be paying higher percentages on V/M.
  36. Framar

    Framar SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Last I heard American Express charges you a monthly fee whether you have any Amex transactions or not.

    I have never accepted it, but recently discovered that Discover is no longer charging a fee just to be sitting there so now I can take Discover.

    I think in the last 28 years of having as shop I have only seen two Amex cards - and both are still good customers who whipped out the next card in their wallets.
  37. Framar

    Framar SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    BTW, why on earth would paying fees for credit cards be better than paying no fees for checks?

    My bank now allows me to deposit checks at the ATM and they give me a receipt with the image of the check printed right on the receipt and the funds are available the next day. Credit cards usually take two days to get into my account.
  38. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    Friendly disclaimer/warning: Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation in this thread. (as well as a lot of good information) Please don't take everything mentioned here as fact.

    If you are planning to take on Amex, Discover, JCB, DC, or DEBIT, (passed through as a courtesy from your current/primary visa/mc vendor), please check directly with them for the facts about the rates, any potential monthly fees or minimums, if the rates are determined by region or by credit worthiness, etc. If comparing with your current visa/mc, it's probably good to average them out for a period to see what the "actual" rate has been, vs the rarely seen "base rate"; which is the "carrot" they tempt you with initially. If a vendor has told you that all the visa/mc will be at 1.75%, they're almost certainly lying :( (unless they're making it up in some other way through a higher monthly fee, etc) The same goes if they told you their competitor(s) card types will be at 6%.

    For what it's worth.... I feel that it's always good to do the research before reaching conclusions, and forum advice should be viewed with skepticism; IMO.

    Grumble on,
  39. Framar

    Framar SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Good advice, Mike - although I must say I am shocked to find that these rates are different regionally.

    Any definition as to what delineates a region?
  40. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Where I am located Mar, Amex charges more because there are a huge amount of very small transactions. People on vacation will use it to buy a bottle of pop, pack of cigarettes and every imaginable $1 or $2 tourist trinket they run across in the name of gaining points.
  41. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    When you take a credit card you know it's good. When you take a check you hope it's good.
  42. Ray Bragg

    Ray Bragg CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    In this day and time you can not be any more sure of a credit card being good than any other form of payment. Just because you get an autorazation on a card does not mean the transaction will go thru. Just like cash or checks the number of fake credit cards floating around and the crooks willing to use them is astronomical. Not to mention the varied ways they can be used, call ins, in person transactions and on line transactions. And just like Phoney cash or checks we the merchants are usually ultimately held accountable and loose the money in the transaction, unlike what most people believe it is not the bank but the merchant who is usually held accountable and at lose!!!!!!
  43. Beveled

    Beveled SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I've had a couple of sales at Art Fairs BECAUSE we take American Express. I don't know if they get points or whatever perks they get, but they sure want to use that card, and far be it from me to deny them!
  44. pwalters

    pwalters SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Excellent point of clarification. I've never seen an Amex transaction anywhere near 6% and most of the time it's within striking distance of what I am getting charged for MC/Visa and I'm at a base rate under 1.8%.
  45. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Never lost a sale because I didn't accept it. Only had 4 people ask in my first 6 years. They pulled out a MC or Visa when I said I didn't take AmEx.

    Now that I do take AmEx I still go months without people taking it out. When they do they are relieved as so few don't, still. Hasn't helped sales, but hasn't hurt.

    They do take a little longer to process, and cost a little more, but if a customer wants to pay I am willing to take their money any way they want to part with it :)
  46. i-m-chickie

    i-m-chickie SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I am with Bob on this one...they take a wee bit longer to post, but I do notice relief from my customers when they ask if I take Amex or Discover...I take both.
    I read that Amex customers spend more, could be, or maybe not; but the article I read said they spend like 37% more than Visa MC people. Did Amex people write the article? Probably, but 37% more in the kitty is worth a percentage point to process the transaction to me.

    So, prior to posting to this thread, I checked my most recent Amex statement...Not 6% by any means and all the transactions were a healthy size. I will continue with them.
  47. HB

    HB SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    I picked up my last bill : my visa & mc sales divided by processing charge is 1.9% all said & done. ($25 extra to rent machine per month) No other fees (Costco - Elavon)
  48. AWG

    AWG SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Not that I really have a dog in this fight, but if your AMEX charges are too high, or it takes too long to get your money, ASK for something better. Changing processors isn't hard. When our bank saw we were moving the branch manager stopped by with the CC rep. Neede to change address info - oh, by the way, blah blah - we got a cut on rates AND we now get our money faster. ASK and you just might get it!
  49. Frame Lady

    Frame Lady CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I simply take the total money in and divide by what merchant card services is charging me and that is my % rate. Use to be 1.9% but lately has gone to 2.2%. I do not have a debit pin pad so process debit cards like credit cards.

    THE BUMMER PART IS I PAY A SERVICE RATE ON STATE SALES TAX COLLECTED which is 9.5%. So my $100 sale with tax is $109.50 and I pay Visa 2.41 for that transaction and pay back the state the 9.50. Wish I paid Visa on the before tax amount.

    I called Am Ex and they told me the rate is a flat 3% and I could not get any better discount. Did any one here actually tell the rest of us their EXACT Am Ex rate or did I miss it? Is is 3% for everyone, or lower or higher?

    I too have never lost an order because I don't ask in the beginning of the sale what credit card they will be using. I am an Am Ex cardholder and they are very very good to me, AS A CARDHOLDER. But I have been contemplating taking AE for several months and will probably jump in and do it here within a couple of weeks.
  50. Meghan MacMillan

    Meghan MacMillan SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    A bigger volume of my sales are MC/VISA but my average AMEX transactions are higher.

    I am happy to accept AMEX cards.
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