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I just applied for a new (free) AMEX, but the first 3 transactions I tryed on it were declined because the shop "does not handle AMEX".

All 3 went flawlessy on my debit mastercard.

Are shops allowed not to accept this card (under EU Law) but still accepting others? Is there a way I could suggest amex to "promote itself" to shops so I could us my new shiny card there?

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I'm not sure about EU laws specifically, but as far as I know merchants can definitely discriminate between credit card issuers.

I also do not see any official way to have AMEX contact a merchant to try and get their cards accepted. The best way to get that changed is to simply tell the merchant (at checkout or in some "tell us how we did" review).

The biggest reason why AMEX is not accepted is because of the fees involved. Visa and Mastercard charge the merchant about 1.5% to 2.5% per swipe (or "insert chip" nowadays), whereas AMEX can charge up to 3.5% or more. Merchants simply don't want to pay that much.

Years ago AMEX was a "premium" credit card (higher limits and more perks, usually used by big spenders) but has since become more mainstream.

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    In the EU, Visa/MC are capped at 0.3% for interchange fees, incidentally, making them even more attractive by comparison.
    – ceejayoz
    Dec 30 '19 at 15:22
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It cost the merchant money to implement a payment gateway to a particular credit card provider. So the merchant may choose whichever payment provider that give them the favoured terms and price and match its pool of potential client.

You can check out the payment gateway fees charged. I.e. A minimum setup will cost the merchant $119 for first 100 transactions, this hasn't added up the surcharge upon the merchant. This will cost the merchant $339 ($119 + (11 x 20)) just set up the gateway for the first year. It is a money-losing business since few people using AMEX and the merchant cannot guarantee there is enough business to cover this cost.

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