Financial services giant American Express is piloting a wave-and-go, key card product in the Valley, and a growing number of merchants are accepting it.
American Express began rolling out its ExpressPay product in 2003 in the Valley and New York City, said spokeswoman Judy Tenzer. A sign-up promotion took place last week at the Fry's store at Baseline and Ray roads in Chandler.
So far, Fry's is the only supermarket chain in the Valley that is accepting ExpressPay at any of its stores.
“We're rolling it out in eight stores in the East Valley to start out,” said Fry's spokesman Jim Nygren. “It's similar to the One Pass that Mobil Oil came out with where you don't have to sign anything, you just swipe your key card. It's really a debit card on small orders.”
The Valley was chosen for the pilot program because American Express has so many employees here. More than 7,000 employees work in American Express' travel offices, card operations, tax and business services, as financial advisors and in its finance center.
“Both in the Phoenix area and New York City, we started with our employee cafeterias,” Tenzer said. “We started with the employees and then expanded out to general card members and merchants outside our cafeterias. We continue to sign up merchants and to get (feedback) about what customers and merchants are finding with their experience with ExpressPay.”
Once accepted, customers have the option of funding ExpressPay in two ways: Either as a direct link for payment to an American Express card, or as a pre-paid product linked to any major credit, charge or debit card. It includes a daily spending limit of $150, and charges are recorded directly on a monthly billing statement.
Unlike other American Express credit card products, ExpressPay is geared toward smaller purchases and is designed for consumers on the go, Tenzer said.
“It's designed for general consumers who want to make some of their everyday purchases faster and more convenient because people have busy lives,” she said. “As they're running around and doing errands, and they're trying to complete their purchases in as fast a time as they can, this helps them.”
Blimpie Subs & Salads, Carl's Jr., Cold Stone Creamery, Jamba Juice, Paradise Bakery and CVS pharmacies are among the growing number of merchants in the East Valley accepting ExpressPay at at least some of their locations. A full list can be viewed at www.americanexpress.com/expresspay.
“We have been signing up more and more merchants all of the time, everything from drug stores to supermarkets, to dry cleaners and sub sandwich locations, and ice cream stores,” Tenzer said.
It has not yet been determined either when or if ExpressPay will be rolled out nationally, she said. Also, American Express would not disclose the number of Valley residents who have signed up for ExpressPay.
“We are pleased with the results of ExpressPay in the Phoenix area and with our pilot, and we will continue to get (feedback) and results, and see what consumers and merchants are thinking about the product,” Tenzer said.