Google Prevents Use of American Express Cards on Certain Cross-Currency Transactions

Up until yesterday I had only ever downloaded free application from the Android Market but yesterday I was looking to get some nice looking widgets courtesy of the “Beautiful Widgets” app. I thought for the cost of €1.45 (approximately AU$1.95 at the time of writing) it was a fair price for something that has received pretty good reviews.

I had already used Google Checkout to purchase a twelve month subscription to LastPass Premium and used my American Express card to pay $12 (again, a fair price for the service offered and provided by LastPass). So, when I went to re-use my details to purchase Beautiful Widgets on my Android device I wasn’t expecting any issues.

Purchasing "Beautiful Widgets" in the Android Market

Purchasing "Beautiful Widgets" in the Android Market

So when I went to select my method of payment to finalise the purchase, I encountered the following screen.

American Express unusable for this purchase

American Express unusable for this purchase

I should probably state at this point that my wife and I prefer to put all purchases on American Express because the earning rate of reward points are higher compared to our other cards. This includes electricity bills, grocery shopping, dining out and iPhone and iPad app purchases.

So why on earth can’t Google take American Express?

At the time of writing, Google has a policy of only accepting American Express cards if the seller of a given app is located in the United States. Sure, you can use MasterCard or Visa instead but for a platform that is wanting to seriously compete with Apple and its iTunes and App Stores there really is no excuse for this sort of restriction for one of the major credit cards in the world.

Perhaps American Express could have a chat to Google about whatever is creating this nonsensical situation in the first place. Another notable annoyance in the arena of electronic purchasing is PayPal who also deny the use of American Express cards to Australians for at least a couple of years now. I’m sure between American Express, Google and PayPal there is enough money being made to make accommodations for currency conversion and merchant fees.

The platform is just as much about the content ecosystem and transactional interactions as it is about the devices and the operating system. Apple has the edge in the ecosystem and financial handling at the moment which Google could study to improvement their own operations.


    • Alan on January 9, 2014 at 00:34
    • Reply

    Very informative but the date of your email is 2011, does it still apply for Amex & PayPal?

    1. Hi Alan,

      According to this page at Google, PayPal is still a no-go whilst American Express can be used for purchases in USD only.

      Bit disappointing given that Apple and Microsoft both accept AMEX. Microsoft also offers PayPal for app purchases as well.

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