First introduced in 2014, OptBlue is American Express's attempt to go after smaller businesses that have yet to incorporate AMEX processing into their payment infrastructure.
Prior to the release of OptBlue, the AMEX ecosystem was a closed silo. In order to accept the full range of consumer credit cards, businesses had to open one merchant account for Visa, MasterCard and Discover — and a separate account exclusively for American Express.
Worse still, AMEX processing fees were prohibitively expensive — a deliberate decision designed to attract high-end customers and merchants.
OptBlue has changed all that.
Merchants can now bundle American Express with all of the other cards they normally accept. These businesses also benefit from more competitive pricing — i.e. fees on par with what Visa and MasterCard already charge.
The program is clearly popular, but how will enrolling in AMEX OptBlue affect your business?
What to Expect When You Sign Up for AMEX OptBlue
As a small-business owner, there are many positive aspects of the OptBlue program. However, two of the biggest advantages include:
1. Ease and Convenience
Managing your merchant account(s) becomes a lot simpler. Instead of juggling multiple statements, you’ll now have one itemized list that bundles all AMEX, Visa and MasterCard activity together.
Similarly, if you ever need to resolve any issues, you only have to deal with one contact (i.e. your merchant account provider).
2. Increased Profits (Fewer Costs or More Sales)
If you already accept American Express, switching to the OptBlue program will allow you to pay fees comparable to what you currently pay for Visa and MasterCard processing.
In other words, you enjoy instant savings.
If you don't already accept American Express, enrolling in OptBlue will allow you to attract more customers. What was once a payment option reserved for the ultrarich has now become mainstream; and by accepting "AMEX Lite,” you can tap into a huge pool of previously inaccessible customers.
Thus, you enjoy more sales.
Important OptBlue Considerations?
Enrollment is neither automatic nor universal. Certain limitations do exist.
For example, your business must process fewer than $1 million in AMEX charges annually. If your yearly volume is above this threshold, you don't qualify as a "small business" — and AMEX will insist that you enroll in its flagship program.
If you do qualify for OptBlue, however, you'll be allowed to display the AMEX decal in your window (or logo on your e-commerce shopping cart). For most small businesses, this "marketing outreach" is enough to attract new traffic. Although it doesn't hurt to alert past and present customers that you now accept AMEX credit cards — a simple email update should do the trick.
If you have additional questions about OptBlue, don't hesitate to schedule a free consultation with our credit card processing team today.