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Will I have trouble using my American Express?

I am headed to England/France for two weeks in August--trying to get my ducks in a row. I mainly use my American Express card but have read several places that it is not widely accepted in Europe--any recent experiences with this? My (young adult) daughter is traveling with me and her only credit card is American Express.

Posted by
2220 posts

Maybe times have changed but Europe in general hasn't been very kind to Amex CCs, and the reason for that was merchants having to pay higher transaction fees to Amex, than they would for Visa / MC transactions.

Posted by
10031 posts

I rarely have problems using my Amex. It works fine 90% of the time. But if it's not accepted, I pull out my Visa card.

Posted by
79 posts

We had several places tell us they do not take AMEX when we first arrived, so I switched to my Amazon VISA and that worked almost seamlessly for the entire trip. I did have the VISA get declined at one unmanned metro ticket booth, but it worked at half a dozen others and worked on every toll booth we encountered.

Posted by
8464 posts

Not widely accepted in the UK.

Stopped bringing mine 20 years ago.

You should take a Visa or MC or both as a back ups.

Posted by
7297 posts

About the time American Express sold Delta on using them as their card issuer, there was an effort to widen the acceptance of American Express. You likely will not have any issues using it for larger purchases in hotels, restaurants, and larger stores, especially if they service a business clientele, but you will run into some issues someplace.

You have time, I would look for a second card (or your daughter), Mastercard or Visa, with no Foreign Transaction Fees and one that has contactless capability, maybe even one that has a PIN for purchases, then you will be set.

Posted by
9088 posts

AE has widespread acceptance in France at retailers that accept plastic. Not so much in other countries throughout Europe.

Posted by
1077 posts

I have a AMX and have used it extensively in Europe without any problems but I also have a VISA card as a backup if needed. Lately I have been using Apple Pay because it seems that everything is going contactless so I just take my Apple watch and touch the screen or symbol and the payment goes through. Nice thing about Apple Pay is that you can leave your credit cards in your money belt and not get them out or give them to someone to run and have them memorize your number and security code.

Posted by
23110 posts

You can count on VISA/Mastercard as having nearly 100% acceptance everywhere. AE tended to be accepted more at the higher end places like hotels and some restaurants. If you are going with AE only, you need a cash back up plan for when it is not accepted. My sense is that AE is accepted closer to 60% of the time. It would not be my "go to" card.

Posted by
184 posts

We are in England now, and AMX is accepted a whole lot more than it was the last time we were here (6 years ago). I’d say it’s accepted about 70% of the time. Visa is taken 100%. Have a backup card to AmX- lots of places don’t take cash. We have both AMX and Visa loaded onto our Apple Pay.

Posted by
6740 posts

American Express acceptance is OK in Paris (70-80% I'd say?) but falls drastically out of Paris, especially in restaurants and small shops. I have one, but I mostly use it for my business travel bookings (hotels and trains).

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks everyone.
I will take my AMX (love to get my miles) and a Visa as backup.

Posted by
8328 posts

wendy, please report back when you get home and tell us what your experience was.

Posted by
733 posts

Amex have very high charges which is why many small busnessess (?!) dont take it.

Posted by
10031 posts

They lowered those charges a few years ago, so it’s much more accepted now— but not at Monoprix of all places. I use my Citi cash back card there; it does give cash back.
FYI, you won’t rack up multiple miles with Amex outside the US. Restaurants and groceries are 1 mile per dollar, not 4.

Posted by
2220 posts

I'm not sure that those lower fees apply to the likes of Amex:

"Credit and debit cards issued by three party schemes (such as American Express and Diners Club), and business or corporate credit cards, where your employer is billed instead of you, are not covered by EU rules on payment services, and you can still be charged extra for using these cards."

Posted by
9325 posts

You've made a wise decision to be sure to bring a Visa as well. My husband has an Amex, and it feels like he gets turned down when trying to use it about 40% of the time. (That is an absolute guesstimate, not a studied-and-backed-by-evidence figure ! )

Posted by
32239 posts

I always have a Mastercard to use (by Apple Pay) when the Amex isn't accepted, but that need is very low. Almost everywhere accepting cards accepts Amex. Not all, but most. UK and France.

Posted by
247 posts

Yes (trouble). Restaurants and such places won't accept it. Larger retailers will.

Posted by
1328 posts

I hage found many more places take it nowadays. Sometimes however they accept it but don't accept it as a tap transaction I have learned

Posted by
2 posts

Not sure about France, but I have travelled extensively in England and almost no one takes American Express. I'd suggest trying to get another card or use the plentiful ATMs and take out cash.

Posted by
492 posts

I just got back from the UK (most of the time spent in either London or Edinburgh) and rarely had an issue using my Amex. 9 times out of 10 it was fine, and when not I used my visa.

Posted by
978 posts

I used my AMEX card a lot more on this trip to the UK than I ever did three years ago. I also always carry two extra cards for backup a Mastercard and VISA. I did notice most items are now contactless which was really easy tapping my card or phone (card loaded on apple pay). We did lose one credit card on this trip. My daughter left her purse on the bus! I was able to freeze the card by using the app on my phone quickly.

Margaret

Posted by
1459 posts

@Bets: I used my Amex on our recent trip to Bavaria, Austria, Slovakia and Czechia. I received all of my hotel and restaurant multipliers.

I had to use a back up VISA or MC often enough on this trip that it would have been a big problem without a back up.

Posted by
342 posts

Wendy, it seems like you would also probably have a Visa debit card to withdraw cash from ATMs, right? I use mine for double duty as a Visa charge card and for the ATM withdrawals. I use Amex for car rental and payment at larger hotels and some restaurants.

In general though, it seems risky to go with only one credit card. Systems can be down or the card can get damaged. It's always safer to have 2 different types of cards from different banks.

Posted by
23 posts

AmEx was okay in France most of the time in 2021, but not always. AmEx was good in England in 2018. I always have a Visa Card with me also.