American Express

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American Express Company

legal form Corporation
ISIN US0258161092
founding 1850
Seat New York City , New York , United States
United StatesUnited States 
management Stephen J. Squeri (Chairman and CEO )
Number of employees 64,000
sales $ 47.0 billion
As of December 31, 2019

The American Express Company ( NYSE : AXP ), often abbreviated to Amex , AmEx , AX or Amexco , is a global provider of financial services with headquarters in New York City , USA . The product range of the credit card issuer and business travel service provider includes payment cards ( credit cards ). The company also offers banking and investment services as well as insurance . The credit card issued by American Express is also known internationally as the "Amex Card".

American Express ranks 119th in the Forbes Global 2000 of the largest listed companies (as of fiscal year 2017). The company had a market value of over USD 87 billion in mid-2018.


American Express Company shares dated December 15, 1859

American Express was founded in 1850 by Henry Wells , William George Fargo and John Warren Butterfield . (Wells and Fargo also founded today's global corporation Wells Fargo .) In the beginning, the company was one of the first and most successful express delivery services to emerge during the rapid, westward expansion of the United States. State mail delivery was either non-existent or very expensive at the time. The shipping companies served as the "lifeline" of the growing nation. Express couriers , usually on horseback or stagecoaches , crossed the continent from the eastern cities to the western border to carry correspondence , parcels , freight , gold or other items. American Express made a good name for itself. Although American Express did not initially offer financial services, its customers included all major banks. It soon became clear that moving stock certificates, currencies, and other bank items was more profitable than moving larger cargo. In 1882, American Express added postal orders to its range of services as a competitor to the US Postal Service. In 1890, Amex issued the first travelers checks .

According to the market research institute Millward Brown, American Express ranks 36th among the world's most valuable brands in terms of brand value with US $ 24 billion in 2017 . The competitor brand Mastercard is in 20th place with 50 billion US dollars. In 2017, the Visa brand was ranked 7th. (See: List of Most Valuable Brands )

At the beginning of 2008 the American Express Bank Ltd. (AEB) was sold by American Express Co. (AXP) to Standard Chartered PLC for $ 823 million . American Express Bank GmbH , based in Frankfurt am Main, has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard Chartered PLC since June 1, 2008 and changed its company name to Standard Chartered Bank (Germany) GmbH on August 22, 2008 .

In 2008, AMEX Co. applied for Federal Reserve approval to convert the company into a bank in order to receive subsidies from the US state bank aid program. The Federal Reserve agreed.

Swisscard - AECS AG is a joint venture between American Express and Credit Suisse .

business development

American Express reported a profit slump of 63 percent in the first quarter of 2009. The company had previously posted a profit decline for six consecutive quarters. American Express suffered badly from the effects of the 2007 financial crisis , such as high unemployment and loan defaults. Due to the poor financial situation, American Express has applied for funding from the US Emergency Economic Stabilization Act in the amount of three and a half billion US dollars.

Business and employee development (respective fiscal year)
GJ Employees Sales
in US $ million
Balance sheet profit
in million US $
2005 65,800 24,404 3,734
2006 65,400 27,692 3,707
2007 67,700 31,540 3,986
2008 66,000 31,920 2,684
2009 58,000 26,543 2.130
2010 61,000 30.005 4,006
2011 62,000 32,282 4,877
2012 64,000 33,781 4,433
2013 62,800 34,828 5,312
2014 54,000 35,895 5,839
2015 54,800 34,441 5,063
2016 56,400 37.143 5,252
2017 55,000 38,990 2,646
2018 59,000 43,281 6,787
2019 64,000 47.020 6,631


Invitation for the Centurion Card

American Express issues the following card products in the German market:

Private customers

  • American Express Blue Card
  • American Express Card
  • American Express Aurum Card (Austria only, no new issue in Germany since 2009)
  • American Express Gold Card
  • American Express Platinum Card
  • American Express Centurion Card (called "Schwarze" or "Black Card")

Small business cards

  • SBS Card
  • SBS Gold Card
  • SBS Platinum Card

Business customers

  • American Express Corporate Card
  • American Express Corporate Gold Card
  • American Express Corporate Platinum Card


  • Commerzbank American Express Gold Card
  • Commerzbank American Express Platinum Card
  • Deutsche Bank American Express Corporate Card
  • Payback American Express card
  • Sixt American Express Card
  • Sixt American Express Gold Card
  • American Express BMW Card


Some cards are offered selectively to certain customers; H. the customer cannot apply for the card himself. In order to receive a (black) American Express Centurion Card , a high six-digit annual turnover must first be generated over a number of years using another Amex card. Only then does American Express invite the customer to the relevant card. Holders of this card enjoy special support from their own "service teams". The annual fee for a Centurion Card is 5,000 euros in Germany, 2,000 euros in France, 2,200 pounds in Great Britain  and 4,200 Swiss francs in Switzerland . In the US, the annual fee is $ 5,000. In addition, there is a one-time admission fee of 5,000 euros in Germany. The main card of a Centurion Card card account is handcrafted from titanium in some countries .

Liability risks include the American Express Business Card, which a company's employees can use to make business expenses. These expenses are usually billed directly to the company. In the event of the company's insolvency, however, American Express invokes a clause in the credit card contract, according to which the employee has assumed personal liability for business expenses by co-signing the credit card application. Various courts have deemed this liability clause to be ineffective.

In Europe, American Express cards are less accepted in retail than Mastercard or Visa. The reason given for this is the higher costs for American Express cards for the accepting company.

Bonus programs

In Germany, American Express offers its customers the Membership Rewards bonus program , which means that credit card holders who take part can collect points by using their credit card. This is included in the price of some cards, while other cards can be booked for a surcharge. In the Membership Rewards program, one point is credited for every euro spent, or half a point for the compact version. Bonus points do not expire. From time to time, special promotions with extra points are offered, e.g. B. when reaching a specified turnover with certain contractual partners (shops) or in the run-up to Christmas. With the Membership Rewards Turbo program, which is no longer advertised , it is possible, for a surcharge, to acquire a further 0.5 points in addition to each point collected (limited to 20,000 additional bonus points per year). From the beginning of January 2005 to the end of January 2007, the so-called “Maximizer Program” could be booked free of charge in Germany (points: from 1,000 euros annual sales 1.25 times, from 5,000 euros 1.5 times and from 15,000 euros double) also with the above "Turbo program" can be combined. The bonus points collected can be redeemed from an offer of over 400 rewards or transferred to other bonus programs (e.g. from airlines).

To redeem a bonus, missing points could be bought for 0.02 EUR per point until 2009, but this is no longer possible due to legal concerns. Whether this 0.02 EUR can also be used as a basis for calculating the taxation of any pecuniary benefit is rather disputed, since the equivalent of a point z. B. when paying for purchases at Peek & Cloppenburg or Anson's Herrenhaus (see above) corresponds to just 0.00571 EUR. The purchasing power of a point for most of the other premiums is also in a similar range. In any case, according to the terms and conditions of American Express, a flat tax is already levied with regard to the MR points, at least for the business cards. Furthermore, an additional payment is possible for many rewards if the relevant number of points has not yet been reached.

The AmEx subsidiary Loyalty Partner operates the Payback , bahn.bonus , bahn.bonus comfort and Miles & More bonus programs through subsidiaries .

Ownership structure

As of 2017, American Express has been primarily owned by institutional investors (Berkshire Hathaway, Vanguard Group, BlackRock, State Street Corporation, and others).

Web links

Commons : American Express  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b American Express: Annual Report 2017. (PDF) Retrieved on March 24, 2018 (English).
  2. ^ The World's Largest Public Companies . In: Forbes . ( [accessed July 17, 2018]).
  3. Michael Heim: Credit Cards: International costs are higher than stated. In: . January 17, 2019, accessed January 21, 2019 .
  4. Consequences of the financial market crisis Drastic drop in profits at American Express., April 24, 2009, accessed December 21, 2009 .
  5. US government changes bailout package More credit for more consumption., November 13, 2008, archived from the original on February 4, 2009 ; Retrieved December 21, 2009 .
  6. American Express Financial Statements 2005-2020 | AXP. Retrieved April 29, 2020 .
  7. AmEx card products. Retrieved March 16, 2015 .
  8. The Centurion 'black' card has a $ 2,500 annual fee and is invite-only, but you can get most of its benefits with the Amex Platinum., June 27, 2014, accessed on May 3, 2020 .
  9. American Express Business Gold Card - Employee liability in the event of company bankruptcy?, June 27, 2014, accessed June 27, 2014 .
  10. Platinum Card advertising flyer , section Reward yourself : "Get your rewards even earlier: With many rewards you can combine a lower number of points with a fixed additional payment."
  11. ^ American Express Company (AXP) Ownership Summary. Retrieved November 6, 2018 (American English).