American Express Co. has lured Hartmarx Corp. back to its merchant roster.

Hartmarx, the Chicago-based operator of the Wallachs, Baskings, and Barrie Pace Ltd. clothing chains, had banned American Express cards at 205 locations late last year.

The decision, which Hartmarx called a cost-cutting move, became a symbol of the problems American Express was having marketing its high-priced card in a slow economy.

Nationwide Acceptance

On Monday, American Express and the clothier said Hartmarx will once again accept the card nationwide.

Under the new contract, Hartmarx will pay the same fees to accept American Express cards as its did under its previous arrangement, a spokesman said.

American Express charges merchants as much a 5% of a transaction to process card billings, compared with a high of about 4% assessed by MasterCard or Visa banks.

The retailer will be offered the same marketing opportunities as other American Express merchants, he added.

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