American Express Expresspay

February 23, 2011

American Express has a way to use your credit card without having to physically swipe it at the cash register. I used it the other day at Walgreens and it’s pretty slick – it’s a neat use of technology called American Express expresspay.  You make your payment and earn your reward points or cash back by just holding it in front of the card reader – and for most purchases under $25 you don’t have to sign a reciept.

So why did American Express develop this new technology?  Partly for consumer convenience and also to address a few issues with the current credit cards we use today.  The main benefits of wireless swiping are:

  • Faster transactions
  • Reduced credit card wear
  • You retain physical control of the card

Credit Card Issues

Magnetic stripes wear outIf you’re using your card a lot the magnetic stripe in the back can get worn out or damaged by card readers. Even if it’s just sitting in your wallet, the stripe gets worn down over time from rubbing against other cards. This may seem like a minor detail, but think of all the things that have to happen to get you a new card:

  • You have to call customer service and sit through a phone tree.
  • They have to verify your identity and why you need a new card.
  • They have to physically print you a new card and mail (or overnight) it to you.
  • If they gave you a new number you need to update all of your online or automatic payments. Even if the account number stays the same (it should) you’ll probably get a new CCV2 code on the card for security purposes.

Loss of card control. When you hand your credit card to a cashier you’re physically losing touch with the card. If you’re paying attention you might be able to notice any shady dealings the person on the other side of the counter has with your card, but turn around for a minute and they could steal your card number and CVV2 code.  It doesn’t happen that frequetly but it’s a risk for the credit card company.

How Does Expresspay Work?

With AMEX’s expresspay there is an RFID chip embedded in your credit card that wirelessly communicates with wireless point of sale terminals. Instead of having to swipe your card you simply hold the card close to the card reader and it automatically transfers the credit card data to the merchant’s point of sale system. The card detection happens very quickly and speeds up the transaction for you and the merchant.

Where Can You Use Expresspay?

As I mentioned earlier, my AMEX Blue Cash card has one of these RFID chips, and I’ve used it several times at Walgreens.

This is still a relatively new technology so you need to look for the expresspay logo ( or ) on the card terminals at your favorite retailers. Want to see who might be rolling out new terminals to support the cards? American Express has a handy list of expresspay merchants for you.

What Cards use Expresspay?

American Express has rolled out the following cards with expresspay chips in them:


Will this article help you save or earn more money? Get others like it simply by entering your email address below. Your email is used only for delivering daily money tips and you can opt out of delivery at any time. Click here to see all your free subscription options.


Kevin Mulligan is a debt reduction champion with a passion for teaching people how to budget and stay out of debt. He's building a personal finance freelance writing career and has written for, Discover Bank, ING Direct, and many others.

All posts by


One Response to American Express Expresspay

  • Michelle R.

    Great article on RFID cards! They have been around for a few years; however, like any other new technology, users need to be aware of the increase fraud issues associated with this type of payment option. Just as someone can “steal” information from a magnetic stripe, so can RFID information. Many FIs are offering the products with offering proper education about the fraud risk and the possibility of someone scanning your RFID information without you being aware of what is happening. Do your homework…decide if the convenience is worth the risk. 😉