American Express OptBlue

Great low Amex rates, fast funding, no monthly fees

American Express: OptBlue

American Express is now much easier to accept. Unlike the old days where you needed to work with American Express directly (and pay high fees!), now accepting Amex transactions happens just like Visa/Mastercard. Your new Dharma account will automatically include American Express OptBlue acceptance, with no additional monthly fees. Your American Express deposits will fund with all other card types, in a regular funding schedule, and all fees will show up on your regular merchant statement.

An important note about American Express OptBlue is that it is reserved for merchants that process up to $1MM annually. Unfortunately, processing more than $1MM still requires an American Express direct account. An important note: if you have multiple locations that all roll up under the same Tax ID / EIN, then the $1MM annual limit is across all locations. American Express goes by Tax ID, not Merchant ID.

As always, Dharma adds a constant margin onto our costs, and always shares all underlying rates and fees. Dharma’s margin on American Express transactions is fixed at 0.25% + $0.08 for card present transactions and 0.30% + $0.11 for card not present transactions. Below are the different American Express rates that you’ll pay – just find your business category, and see the rate for each transaction size. These rates are “final rates” and include all American Express costs, network fees, and Dharma margins.

American Express fees to merchants. Please note: American Express still passes along additional fees for certain types of processing. Dharma always passes these fees through at cost, with no markup:

  1. Card-Not-Present Surcharge: American Express will add 0.30% to all “Card-Not-Present” transactions
  2. International Surcharge: American Express will add 0.40% to all international sales
  3. Non-compliance Surcharge: American Express adds 0.75% to sales not settled within 7 days of authorization

How does Dharma’s OptBlue offering differ from prior American Express acceptance?

Reduction of fees, up to 62% (from 3.5% vs. 2.15%)
Funding times at least 1 day sooner, sometimes 2
Customer Support from the same dependable staff
No additional monthly fees

Retail Merchants

Retail merchants sell directly to consumers through a storefront location or through a website. If you sell directly to consumers, you’ll likely be classified as a “retail” merchant. The list is long, but common categories include clothing, jewelry, books, hardware, grocery, computer, furniture, auto supplies, and cosmetics. If you sell goods to consumers, chances are you’ll be classified as “retail”.

Transaction Size American Express Rate
Less than $75.00 2.00% + $0.18/transaction
Less than $1,000.00 2.35% + $0.18/transaction
Greater than $1,000.00 2.80% + $0.18/transaction

Restaurant Merchants

Restaurant merchants sell food/drinks directly to consumers through a storefront location. If you’re selling wholesale restaurant supplies, your business would be classified as “Business to Business”. Caterers, fast-food restaurants, and bars/nightclubs will all be classified as restaurants.

Transaction Size American Express Rate
Less than $25.00 2.25% + $0.18/transaction
Less than $150.00 2.85% + $0.18/transaction
Greater than $150.00 3.30% + $0.18/transaction

Business-to-Business (Wholesale)

Business-to-Business (B2B) merchants sell directly to other businesses, (as opposed to consumers) and typically will be manually entering transactions into a terminal or virtual terminal. Common merchant types are contractors, accounting/consulting services, equipment rentals, insurance sales, and other business services.

Transaction Size American Express Rate
Less than $400.00 1.95% + $0.18/transaction
Less than $7,500.00 2.20% + $0.18/transaction
Greater than $7,500.00 2.65% + $0.18/transaction


Healthcare merchants are typically doctors/dentist’s offices, pharmacies, or other healthcare-related businesses that work directly in the healthcare field. Common examples are chiropractors, opticians, hospitals, podiatrists, and optometrists.

Transaction Size American Express Rate
Less than $150.00 1.95% + $0.18/transaction
Less than $2,000.00 2.25% + $0.18/transaction
Greater than $2,000.00 2.70% + $0.18/transaction

Non-Profits / Other

Non profits who are registered with the IRS as tax exempt will receive the below rates. In addition, these rates are granted to transportation merchants, petroleum/fuel merchants, bus lines and limousines, and government service merchants.

Transaction Size American Express Rate
Less than $150.00 1.95% + $0.18/transaction
Less than $2,000.00 2.25% + $0.18/transaction
Greater than $2,000.00 2.70% + $0.18/transaction

Education / Schools

All education-based merchants get lower rates with American Express. Colleges, universities, schools, sports/recreational camps, dance halls, vocational schools, and child-care services all receive this rate structure.

Transaction Size American Express Rate
Less than $150.00 1.85% + $0.18/transaction
Less than $2,000.00 2.20% + $0.18/transaction
Greater than $2,000.00 2.45% + $0.18/transaction

Services / Professional Services

Service merchants include many different types of merchants, but typically if you’re providing a service, you’ll be classified as a “services” merchant. Common merchant types include veterinary offices, auto body repair, car washes, towing, tourist attractions, health and beauty spas, public utilities, barber shops, and photography merchants.

Transaction Size American Express Rate
Less than $400.00 2.00% + $0.18/transaction
Less than $3,000.00 2.35% + $0.18/transaction
Greater than $3,000.00 2.80% + $0.18/transaction

Travel and Entertainment

The travel and entertainment category will encompass lodging merchants, amusement parks, campgrounds, and recreational service merchants.

Transaction Size American Express Rate
Less than $400.00 2.65% + $0.18/transaction
Less than $3,000.00 3.00% + $0.18/transaction
Greater than $3,000.00 3.40% + $0.18/transaction