What is OptBlue by American Express®

What is OptBlue by American Express?

“Don’t do business without it” is the merchant-side slogan of American Express. Yet, for decades, countless merchants have done exactly that. American Express processing was expensive and couldn’t be mixed with payment processing for any other card company, making it more problematic than it was worth for most small merchants. As a result, many stores simply declined to do business with the company altogether.

Luckily, American Express now offers a program that opens their payment products up to the small and startup merchants that have traditionally been stuck on the outside looking in. The program is called American Express OptBlue, and it’s turned Amex from a card once accepted only at premium retailers to one accessible by 99% of merchants across the U.S.

What is OptBlue?

OptBlue is a program created by American Express specifically to address the problem of small merchants being effectively blocked out of doing business with the company. American Express has traditionally been positioned as a higher-end, more “elite” payment card than those offered by its major competitors. With that status came high transaction fees that were no issue for merchants selling expensive or luxury goods or doing juicy annual sales numbers, but that were extremely prohibitive for smaller merchants doing more modest business. 

OptBlue was designed to reach out to those smaller merchants – specifically, ones doing less than a million dollars a year in sales – by removing the traditional signup process entirely and instead putting Amex access in the hands of the payment processors that merchants use for the rest of their card processing. By making their cards available through the same merchant accounts as the other major card issuers, American Express has removed a lot of the complexity, headache, and, most importantly, costs previously associated with accepting Amex payments. 

What Benefits Does OptBlue Offer to Merchants

Missing out on American Express payments might not seem like a big deal with Visa, Mastercard, and Discover all still available through standard merchant accounts. While it’s true that American Express has a smaller user base than the other three major card companies, offering it as a payment option still brings some major benefits. That was true for many merchants even when American Express was harder to deal with, but now that OptBlue has removed essentially all of the friction involved with AmEx, the benefits offered by the program make it an easy choice.

Access to More Payment Options

First and foremost, OptBlue makes American Express accessible to smaller merchants doing under a million dollars in sales each year. More payment options mean greater choice for those merchants’ customers, and that is always good for business. OptBlue enables merchants to display the American Express logo in their windows and at their checkouts, potentially opening up business to a new base of higher-income customers and making the shopping experience more convenient for shoppers who have multiple cards but prefer to pay with Amex.

Simplified Reporting and Support

Merchants who access American Express through the company’s traditional programs see their Amex sales and reporting entirely isolated from the rest of their credit card sales. That means each month they get two sets of merchant statements, making accounting needlessly complex and time-consuming. OptBlue eliminates that problem by bringing American Express transactions under the same account as a merchant’s Visa, Mastercard, and Discover transactions. OptBlue simplifies record keeping and accounting, and streamlines merchant support should issues ever arise. 

Reduced Processing Fees

One major benefit of OptBlue is that American Express no longer controls processing fees. Instead, they are now offering wholesale rates to their payment processing partners and allowing the processors to set their own prices, which enables payment processors to offer much more competitive rates than have traditionally been available through Amex’s in-house programs. 

For example, a traditional American Express account could charge fees as high as 3.50% plus $0.35 on every transaction. Those fees exceed even third-party processors like PayPal. An OptBlue account through BAMS, on the other hand, offers merchants American Express processing with rates as low as 2.30% plus $0.10 per transaction – huge savings over the fees accessible directly through Amex. 

Faster Access to Funds

Funding holds are the bane of many merchants’ existence, as standard holds can see payouts delayed by two to three business days or more in extreme cases. Some payment processors, like BAMS, offer next-day funding to ease that burden, but with OptBlue, merchants can do even better by accessing 12-hour funding. BAMS OptBlue merchants will see the funds from all American Express transactions batched before 7 pm reach their bank accounts by 7 am the following day. That faster turnaround ensures a merchant’s hard-earned money spends more time in their pocket and less sitting in limbo, improving cash flow and overall financial health. 


The ease, simplicity, and financial benefits of accepting Amex through OptBlue make it an easy choice for merchants doing business with one of American Express’s payment processing partners. BAMS is one of those OptBlue partners, and in addition to seamless and low-cost Amex access, we also offer guaranteed low pricing on transactions done with Visa, Mastercard, and Discover cards as well. 

To find out more about how a BAMS merchant account can help you gain easy access to American Express while minimizing your existing monthly merchant statement, submit a request for your free five-point price comparison today!