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American Express

Headquarters: 200 Vesey Street
New York, NY 10285
Employees: 63,000
CEO: Kenneth Chenault
Stock Symbol: AXP


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Best known for its upscale charge card, American Express provides financial, banking and travel services in over 130 countries.

American Express cards are used by many large corporations for their employees to make payments and track expenses. Card holders tend to be more affluent and charge more with American Express than using Mastercard or Visa. American Express also charges a higher processing fee to merchants than Mastercard and Visa.

In 2014, American Express reported revenues of $34.3 billion, a 4% increase from the previous year. Net income was $5.9 billion, a 10% increase.

More than half of American Express card users are outside of the U.S.

American Express sold half of its corporate travel business in 2014 for $900 million to a group of investors including Certares and Qatar's sovereign wealth fund.

The company reportedly plans to cut 4,000 jobs this year.


American Express began in New York in 1850 as an express delivery service and quickly became one of the most successful to operate during a time of intense US westward expansion. As a majority of their clients were banks, American Express began to create and sell their own financial products such as money orders and travelers cheques.

In 1882, American Express launched the money order business, which proved an almost instant success. The company introduced the world's first travelers cheque in 1891 and within ten years was selling more than $6 million in cheques annually.

American Express issued its first charge card in 1958. Within five years, more than 1 million cards were in use at approximately 85,000 establishments within and outside the United States. Soon, the company began introducing local currency cards in markets outside the United States, adding programs that made it possible for cardmembers to extend payment on large travel expenditures, and launching additional products, such as the American Express Gold Card in 1966.

American Express spun off its financial advisory unit in 2005 which now operates independently as Ameriprise Financial.

On November 10, 2008, American Express became a bank holding company regulated by the Federal Reserve Board.

In January 2009, American Express received a $3.4 billion investment from the U.S. Treasury Capital Purchase Program. The company paid back the investment in 2009.


The company offers medical, dental and vision care.

Employees receive a base salary and merit increases yearly along with lump sum payments for oustanding performers. Incentive pay is also provided for departments that exceed their yearly goals.

A 401(k) plan is offered that matches dollar-for-dollar up to the first 3% of employee contributions along with 1% in a company stock fund. Vesting for this portion is immediate. Profit-sharing contributions are offered after one year of service which can be up to 7% depending upon company performance. Vesting for profit-sharing is 100% after five years of service.

The company also provides a retirement plan after one year of service with contributions ranging from 2.5-10% depending on age and years of service. This plan vests 100% after five years of service.

American Express offers employees a pool of days for time off each year. The pool represents vacation, holiday and personal days. Time off is based on experience and level shown in the chart below.

Years of Service Associate & Professional Manager & Director Vice President & Above
0* to 4 years 23 days 28 days 33 days
5-9 years 28 days 28 days 33 days
10 to 19 years 33 days 33 days 33 days
20-24 years 33 days 33 days 38 days
25 years or more 38 days 38 days 38 days

* Time off is prorated for new hires.

An additional week of vacation can be purchased from the company after one year of service.

Educational assistance is also offered for job-related courses. The company will reimburse 90% of tuition and fees up to a maximum of $5,000 per year.

Updated January 21, 2015

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