Why would a restaurant only take American Express?

This weekend I went to dinner at a place in the Village in NYC and the only credit card they took was American Express. I don’t understand this at all, since AmEx is 1) less popular than the others and 2) takes the highest percentage of the bill from the restaurant.

Anyone have a rationale?

To keep out ordinary folk (people who aren’t rich).

Technically it’s called cutting down on the riff-raff.

To get back at all those “they don’t take American Express” ads?

How so? IME, it’s not harder to get an Amex card than any other credit card. And, even if it were, all those poor hoi polloi could still use cash.

I know a couple of companies that only take Amex. The only reason is that they considered it a lot of trouble to set up merchant accounts for different kinds of cards so they only did it to support the cards used by their big clients. This rationale works if you’re a wholesale distributor catering to a few clients, but it probably doesn’t apply to a restaurant.

Especially since AmEx now has the Blue card, which they’ll give to college students. Talk about rif-raf!

AMEX cardholders are, demographically, more affluent than the average VISA- or Mastercard-only users. It is conceivable that a restaurant chooses to pursue only the most desirable customers by refusing to take VISA and Mastercard.

However, since some segments of the other two cards’ users are also very affluent and desirable, it’s unlikely. A more probable situation is that the restaurant was refused accounts by the VISA/Mastercard processor (which isn’t always the same as the AMEX processor, especially in countries like Canada), or the fee structure didn’t favour their business (although AMEX generally has higher merchant fees than either of the other two).

Yeah, today Amex is hardly exclusive. To me this seems like a dumb idea for a restaurant.

AmEx is not a typical credit card because you have to pay it off in full every month and pay a yearly fee for it’s use. Easy to get, but miss a payment and see how quick they yank you off thier list of approved customers. They are most generally used by business people to pay for business expenses, since they are paid off in full every month it doesn’t affect you credit rating. Something the “riff-raff” doesn’t have or care about.

The meals are probably priced high enough that most “ordinary” people would not want to spend that much cash for them, except on a special occassion. As long as they give them a table in the rear I don’t care. Who can truely enjoy thier quich whist the tourist are meanderaing about? Really! :smack:

They more than likely will not take an Amex Blue or Optima card because these are typical “credit card” like cards. Check it out, I’ll bet that they so the green AmEx card as the one they take.

I second the notion that it’s because of some sort of trouble with Visa/MC…

Not true for Amex Blue.

Or their Optima card, which may have been replaced by the Blue but the accounts are still out there.

I’d be interested to know if Si Amigo’s conjecture is true that they would even refuse any Amex account with monthly rollover. I find that very unlikely, but I’m in no position to comment on this particular restaurant. I think it’s more likely that they just never had some problem with Visa/MC either in getting the initial setup or subsequently getting yanked.

Could this be something like “VISA is the only card accepted at the Olympics?” AMEX may have cut this restaurant a deal in order for them to only take American Express.

I used to work at AMEX over a decade ago. I remember from then all merchants who took American Express had to take Optima. Just like I’ve never seen a merchant who would only take “Visa Gold” but a regular Visa card.

Some merchants (car rental companies) will refuse Visa/MC debit cards.

I suspect the Amex agreement would prohibit discriminating against the Blue card. Amex wouldn’t like merchants to put up signs “If you have Amex Blue, take your stinking card elsewhere.”

AmEx does indeed offer deals whereby merchants pay a far lower rate on AmEx transactions if they agree to only take AmEx.

I was just half joking about the blue, like it was a low class Visa debit card kind of thing.

I do think that AmEx is just an strange uppity company. I just got through booking a trip to Boston on my AmEx Travel site, used my Amex Corporate Card and booked rooms cars and plane tickets with all of my corporate approved AmEx companies and ended up paying (okay, my company is paying) about twice what I would if I was doing it myself thru any number of online booking sites.

I feel like such a sellout when I whip that AmEx Corporate card sometimes. :frowning:

An ATM card with a Visa or MC logo is not a credit card.

American Express gave them money so that AE can say, “If you aren’t using AE, you’re out of luck!”

Back in the early 80’s, when I was young and had no credit history, I applied for a number of credit cards.

I’ll never forget this: on the same day that I received rejection notices from Texaco and Citgo, I received an American Express card!

In other words, you can ignore any ads that suggest an American Express card is a sign that you’ve “made it.” Because Amex was willing to give me unlimited (alobeit very temporary) credit at a time when Texaco (understandably) didn’t trust me to pay for a tank of gas.