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99% of merchants in the U.S. who accept credit cards now take American Express

The most recent Nilson Report found that 10.6 million U.S. merchant locations accepted American Express at the end of 2019.

American Express

It may seem like a minor issue, but it can be rather annoying when you pull out an American Express card to pay for your dry cleaning only to have the store owner tell you they only accept Visa or Mastercard. But this issue is becoming much less common in recent years: The most recent Nilson Report, a leading credit card industry resource, found that 99% of credit card-accepting merchants in the U.S. can now accept Amex.

This is a significant change from just five years ago: Amex has increased merchant acceptance from 3.7 million in 2014 to 10.6 million U.S. merchant locations at the end of 2019, which is the same as Discover. In comparison, Visa and Mastercard were accepted at 10.7 million U.S. locations in 2019. Last year, almost a million new U.S. locations began accepting Amex.

"American Express cards, whether personal, co-brand, small business or corporate, now have even greater utility because our cardmembers can use them with more confidence in more places," Anré Williams, group president of global merchant and network services at American Express, said in the press release.

If you're looking to open a new Amex credit card, there are plenty of choices that offer robust rewards programs in common spending categories, such as gas, groceries, dining and travel. Check out some of CNBC Select reviews of the top offers below.

Best American Express credit cards

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
On American Express's secure site
  • Rewards

    6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 3% cash back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more and 1% cash back on other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases on your new card within the first 3 months

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    12.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2.7%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

 

American Express® Green Card

American Express® Green Card
On American Express's secure website
  • Rewards

    3X Membership Rewards® points on eligible travel, transit and at restaurants worldwide and 1X Membership Rewards® points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $150

  • Intro APR

    Not applicable

  • Regular APR

    See rates and fees

  • Balance transfer fee

    See rates and fees

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card
On American Express's secure site
  • Rewards

    4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide and shop at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $250

  • Intro APR

    Not applicable

  • Regular APR

    See rates and fees

  • Balance transfer fee

    See rates and fees

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
On American Express's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 3 miles per dollar spent at hotels, 3 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, 2 miles per dollar spent at restaurants, 2 miles per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets, and 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months. Plus, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within your first three months

  • Annual fee

    $250

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.74% to 24.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fees

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.