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American Express: Understanding the multimillion

American Express is a US multinational financial services firm headquartered at 200 Vesey Lane in New York city. Dow Jones Industrial Average was founded in 1850 and is one of the company’s 30 elements. The company’s credit card, crédit card and checking businesses are well known.

American Express was started in Buffalo, New York, in 1850 as an express mail company.  Initially, AMEX built its headquarters in a building in what was later called the Tribeca area of Manhattan, at the intersection of Jay Street and Hudson Street. It has maintained a virtual monopoly on the flow of express shipments in New York State for years (goods, shares, currency, etc.). In 1874, AMEX moved its headquarters to 65 Broadway in what became Manhattan’s Financial District, a place to be preserved by two towers.

In 1854, as the location for its stables, the AMEX Company bought a lot on Vesey Street in New York City. An 1858 marble Italianate palazzo at 55-61 Hudson Row, which had a busy freight depot on the ground floor with a spur line from the Hudson River Railroad, was the company’s first New York headquarters. In 1867, five blocks north, at 4-8 Hubert Lane, a stable was built.

In 1874, the company prospered enough that the headquarters were moved from the wholesale shipping district to the budding financial district and to leased offices in two five-story industrial brownstone buildings owned by the Harmony family at 63 and 65 Broadway.

American Express invested in the brokerage business during the 1980s, purchasing what became Shearson Lehman Hutton in stages and then splitting them into what became Smith Barney Shearson (owned by Primerica) and a resurrected Lehman Brothers. Neither the name Shearson nor the name Lehman remained until 2008.

In 2016, 22.9% of the gross dollar volume of payment card transactions in the United States was paid for by credit cards using the AMEX network. As of 31 December 2019, the company has 114.4 million cards and an average anniversary of $19,972 of these, including 54.7 million cards in the USA.

American Express was rated the 23rd most valuable brand in the world (and the highest in financial services) by Forbes in 2017, calculating the brand to be worth US$24.5 billion. In 2020, based on an employee satisfaction poll, Fortune Magazine placed AMEX at number 9 on the Top 100 Companies to Partner with Fortune List in 2020.

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The company’s logo, unveiled in 1958, is a gladiator or centurion whose portrait appears on the company’s traveller’s checks, credit cards and rewards cards. Through organizing affiliations with other express companies (including Wells Fargo, a replacement for the two former AMEX companies), railroads and steamship companies, American Express has extended its reach nationwide.

AMEX launched the Gold Card in 1966. The company introduced the Platinum Card in 1984, specifically identifying multiple consumer categories within its own company, a trend that has proliferated across a wide variety of sectors. The Platinum Card was billed as super-exclusive and had a yearly fee of $250 (the fee is $550 as of September 2019). It was only given by invitation to customers of AMEX with at least two years of tenure, considerable investment, and excellent payment history; on request, it is available to applicants as of 2019. American Express launched the Optima card in 1987, the first credit card offering which at the end of the month, did not have to be billed in full.

American Express runs a Centurion Lounges network at major airports open to holders of its Platinum and Centurion cards. The first lounge opened at McCarran Airport in 2013, and since then the network has expanded. As part of the Global Lounge Range, AMEX also has arrangements with other airport lounges to provide connections to their Platinum and Centurion card holders.

Delta Sky Club, Escape Lounges, Plaza Premium Lounges, Airpsace Lounge, Plaza Premium Lounge, Priority Pass Lounge are among these lounge networks. American Express acquired LoungeBuddy in 2019, a service that offers connectivity to select airport lounges worldwide and pay-per-use access.

American Express reported profits of US$2.634 billion for the fiscal year 2017, with annual sales of US$35.583 billion, up 5.2% from the previous fiscal cycle. Its stock traded at over $83 per share, and in October 2018, its market capitalization was estimated at over $86.5 billion. In the 2018 Fortune 500 ranking of the biggest United States companies by gross sales, AMEX ranked 86.


AMEX encourages efforts to strengthen architectural and cultural heritage through the preservation of historical landmarks, with the goal of raising awareness of the value of historical and environmental protection. AMEX is the founding sponsor of the World Monuments Fund’s multinational “World Monuments Watch” initiative, established in 1995. In 2016, AMEX won the Corporate Art Award from part for its international renovation initiative during the first Corporate Art Awards edition. As of 2017, shares in AMEX are owned mostly by institutional investors.

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