Saturday , January 18, 2020

AmEx’s Discount Rate Returns to Its Year-Ago Level

Issuer and acquirer American Express Co. said its global third-quarter discount rate—what merchants pay to accept the brand’s credit cards—was 2.39%, a slight increase from 2.38% a year ago.

The uptick comes more than a year after AmEx said it would shave its worldwide discount rate in an effort to boost merchant acceptance. The effort, according to the company’s third-quarter results released Friday, bore out, at least for a time, as its fourth-quarter 2018 average discount rate dipped to 2.36%, its lowest point in the past year. AmEx does not divulge its discount revenue or rate by region. Its discount revenue of $6.57 billion increased 6.3% from $6.18 billion a year ago. 

The card brand’s total revenue for the quarter, not including interest expense, totaled $11 billion, an 8.9% increase from $10.1 billion a year ago. Its net income was $1.8 billion, a 5.9% increase from $1.7 billion.

On the card side, AmEx had 54.3 million active cards in the United States, a 2.5% increase from 53 million a year ago. Average U.S. spending on the cards was $5,366, a 3.8% increase from $5,169.

“The disciplined approach we’ve been taking for the past few years to refresh our products continues to translate into increased engagement with existing customers and a redefinition of membership with new benefits, broader access to lifestyle experiences and more customized rewards,” Steve Squeri, AmEx chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. “Card members appreciate the added value we are providing, which is helping us earn a greater share of their overall spending and borrowing, while also attracting 2.9 million new proprietary card members to American Express this quarter.”

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