American Express’ No Signature Program

American Express' No Signature Program


American Express, like its bigger rivals Visa and MasterCard, allows certain card-present merchants to process card payments without requiring cardholders to sign the sales receipt. AmEx manages this process through its No Signature program.


American Express’ No Signature program is available to U.S.-based merchants, excluding locations in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or other U.S. territories. The following merchant categories can participate in the program:

  • Restaurants.
  • Parking lots and garages.
  • Movie theaters.
  • Sporting goods stores and sports clubs.
  • Bookstores.
  • Record stores.
  • Grocery stores and supermarkets, convenience stores, miscellaneous food stores, specialty retail stores, drug stores and pharmacies.
  • News dealers and newsstands.
  • Laundry and cleaning services and dry cleaners.
  • Quick copy, reproduction and blueprinting services.
  • Car washes.
  • DVD and video rental services.
  • Local commuter / passenger transport and bus lines.
  • Tolls and bridge fees.
  • Service stations.
  • Doctors and physicians.
  • Government post offices.


Merchants that are allowed to participate in this program are called Qualified Establishments. The No Signature program applies only to transactions with a dollar amount submitted for authorization of $25 or less.


American Express requires for all No Signature transactions the card to be swiped through the merchant’s point of sale (POS) terminal. Qualified Establishments are then required to transmit the full magnetic stripe or encoded data with their authorization requests.


American Express can charge back a No Signature transaction if:

  • The magnetic stripe is unreadable and the Qualified Establishment key-enters the transaction to obtain an authorization; or
  • The POS terminal or the Qualified Establishment’s processing bank fails to capture and pass the full magnetic stripe or encoded data to American Express at the time of the authorization request.


The No Signature program does not apply to disputed transactions involving customer service or disputes about products and services. American Express can charge back transactions involving these kinds of disputes, regardless of whether or not the cardholder’s signature is obtained.


If a merchant generates a disproportionate number of disputed transactions, processed under the No Signature program, the merchant will be required to devise and implement, under the supervision of American Express, a program to reduce these disputes. If these efforts fail to reduce the number of disputes, American Express may include the merchant in its Immediate Chargeback program, under which all customer disputes will result in immediate chargebacks, without any prior inquiry. Alternatively, American Express can modify or terminate the Qualified Establishment’s participation in the No Signature program.


Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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