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Your American Express transactions occur in one of three ways:

  1. Card transaction, with the Cardmember present.
  2. Card transaction, with the Cardmember not present (mail order, telephone orders, internet).
  3. Our Travellers Cheques.

The quickest way to accept our Cards is electronically. It’s more accurate and generally less hassle. You’ll need to make sure your terminal can generate receipts which contain the following information:

  • Authorisation code
  • Card account number and expiry date
  • Date of charge
  • Amount of charge
  • A concise description of the purchase
  • Your business name, address, and American Express Merchant number

Now you’re set up, let’s look at those different kinds of transactions.

1. How to handle a Card transaction, with the Cardmember present.

Both Chip and PIN Cards and signature Cards will continue to be in circulation for both American Express and other card issuers, including overseas Cardmembers travelling to and spending in the UK. So, you are likely to see a mix of different Card types, and should welcome all of them equally.

It’s important that you check the validity of the Card; and that it has not been visually altered or tampered with. Then follow these simple steps:

Chip and PIN Cards

  • First place the Card in the ‘Chip’ reader in your POS terminal
  • The Cardmember should then enter their PIN
  • Return the Card and provide the Cardmember with a copy of their transaction receipt
  • If the Chip and PIN transaction fails you should follow the Swipe Card Procedure detailed below. Please note that if you process the transaction using this secondary method, you may be liable for a Chargeback if the Cardmember later disputes the charge
  • If the Chip and PIN transaction is declined, you should refuse the transaction
  • If you receive a ‘Referral’ message please call American Express Card Authorisations

Non Chip and PIN Cards
  • First swipe the Card
  • If the magnetic strip is unreadable, key in the transaction manually and take an imprint of the Card to validate Card presence
  • Your POS terminal will automatically call American Express and respond with an Authorisation Code, a ‘Decline’ or a ‘Referral’ message
  • If you do receive a ‘Referral’ message please call American Express Card Authorisations
  • Always ensure you compare the signature on the receipt to the signature on the back of the Card. If they do not match, you should refuse the transaction

If your terminal is broken or unable to automatically connect to American Express

If your terminal is having difficulty accepting American Express transactions
  • A contact number and error code may be displayed on your terminal for further assistance
  • If no number is displayed, please contact your terminal provider for instructions

2. How  to handle a Card transaction, with the Cardmember not present.

In the case of mail, telephone or internet transactions, where the Cardmember is not present to sign or to enter their PIN, you need to follow a different process.

Obtain the following information from the Cardmember:
  • Their name as it appears on the Card
  • Their 15 digit Card Account Number
  • The Card’s expiry date
  • The Cardmember’s billing address
  • The delivery address
  • The Card’s 4 digit security code which is located on the front of the Card (if required by your policy)

Request an Authorisation Approval Code

Please follow your Cardmember not present process to request authorisation. If this process is unavailable then please contact American Express Card Authorisations.

3. How  to handle American Express Travellers Cheques.

It’s easy to accept our Travellers Cheques. You don’t need to sign a contract, nor pay any charges to American Express. Moreover, most banks accept them the under the same conditions as any other cheque (check with your bank for details on charges and clearing times).

Provided you comply with our security procedures, we’ll pay you for every cheque you deposit.

As with any transaction, be vigilant. Discreetly watch your customer countersign the cheque, and compare with the original signature, ensuring that they are a reasonable match. Satisfy yourself that neither the original signature, nor the cheque numbers, have been altered.

If you’re unsure about the validity of a Travellers Cheque, you can request authorisation from us either by our automated phone or internet services:
If you choose to accept Travellers Cheques in foreign currencies, you’ll need to convert the transaction by applying the current exchange rate, which you can obtain from your bank. Then, deposit the cheques into your bank account. For further details contact your bank and visit