Does HEB Take American Express

Does HEB Take American Express?

In this digital era, cash payment is proving redundant. Many people opt for cards like American Express (AMEX) to complete transactions, among other cashless payment methods. Nonetheless, not all US stores accept this card, so you may wonder if HEB takes American Express.

HEB accepts American Express, among other various credit and debit cards. HEB began using this payment option in April of 2000 after American Express took Visa and Mastercard to court for anti-trust issues.

In this article, I will answer various frequently asked questions (FAQs) about HEB and American Express. I’ll tell you the stores that accept this card, those that don’t, and why. However, let’s first explore the other payment methods available at HEB.

American Express

Other Payment Options Accepted at HEB

Most transactions at HEB accept the following forms of payment:

  • Cash
  • Credit cards like American Express, Discover, Visa, and Mastercard. 
  • Debit cards
  • Personal checks
  • HEB gift cards
  • EBT
  • Google pay in some locations
  • HEB Go App

If you order online, you’ll be required to pay via your debit or credit card only, even if you intend to pick it up at the store.

At this point, you may wonder why Apple Pay is not on this list despite being the most popular mobile wallet in the US. Unfortunately, by the time I’m writing this, HEB doesn’t accept Apple Pay.

The company’s response to interested customers is that this payment method requires them (and other retailers) to invest in new NFC terminals. While I cannot ascertain the truth to this statement, I can understand why HEB is reluctant to invest in Apple Pay technology with other various payment methods already in place and running smoothly. 

HEB, however, noted in a tweet that they are looking into implementing Apple Pay. Following this statement, I hope they execute it quickly to leverage the numbers of Apple Pay users.

Having their own contactless payment technology, HEB Go, might be why HEB is lagging in using Apple Pay. 

What Is HEB Go?

HEB Go is an app that allows you to scan and pay for items online as you shop. The app is linked to a credit or debit card for payment purposes. Alternatively, it allows you to pay directly from your phone by scanning the QR code at an HEB kiosk.

To use HEB GO, you’ll simply download the app on your Apple or Android device. Here’s a YouTube video by KVUE that helps to explain how HEB Go works.

Other Major Grocery Stores That Accept AMEX Apart From HEB

The February 2020 Nilson Report states that 99% of grocery stores accept AMEX. However, that wasn’t the case until recently, when AMEX partnered with Visa and Mastercard to get more merchants on board.

money and VISA card

You see, historically, many stores refused AMEX. That was because it charged higher interchange fees (swipe fees) than other credit card issuers for valid reasons (It still does).

They used to charge 2.5% to 3.5% of every transaction, while competitors like Discover, Visa, and Mastercard charge merchants between 1.5% to 2.5% interchange fees. That’s approximately half the amount AMEX charged.

However, these fees and regulations have changed now that American Express has rolled out the OptBlue Program. This program allows third-party payment providers in partnership with AMEX to determine the interchange fees for small businesses. The program has since brought more retailers on board.

Why American Express Charges Higher “Swipe Fees”

hand running a credit card through a credit card processing machine

AMEX earns revenue in two ways only:

  • Interchange fees from retailers.
  • Annual payments from clients.

They do not charge their clients any interest. Instead, the cardholders pay what they spend every month with no upcharges. Hence, the high interchange fees.

This case is unlike other credit card institutions that spread the fees across their cardholders and merchants. They earn high-interest rates from their clients, hence, the lower swipe fees.

This American Express business model may be why the remaining 1% of grocery stores still reject the card. However, who are the 1%?

Which Stores Reject AMEX?

The few remaining grocery stores probably don’t accept AMEX due to their relatively higher interchange fees. In addition, most AMEX cardholders are wealthy citizens who shop in major expensive stores, so some businesses just don’t feel motivated to accept AMEX.

Most small-scale enterprises reject AMEX. They have cheaper alternatives, and most customers at these smaller stores are not as well-off as AMEX cardholders. Besides small businesses, a few major stores don’t take American Express. 

They include:

  • Costco: They stopped accepting AMEX in 2016 and partnered with Citibank and Visa network. They currently accept Visa cards only.
  • WinCo Foods: WinCo only accepts cash, EBT, checks, and WIC forms of payment. They don’t take any form of credit.
  • Loblaws: They only take Visa and Mastercard but not AMEX.


You now know that HEB is among the 99% of stores that accept American Express. While AMEX’s acceptance rate has drastically increased in the past few years, some major stores and small enterprises still reject it.

I’ve also explained why HEB doesn’t accept US’s most popular mobile money payment – Apple Pay. Their HEB Go app is something you should also embrace for quicker shopping.

I hope I have sufficiently answered your questions and that you find this post helpful.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *