American Express Credit Cards
American Express, or AmEx, is one of the oldest financial companies in the United States and in the world. In addition to credit cards, American Express operates in the charge card and traveler's cheque businesses. Although American Express are not as popular as Visa and above all MasterCard, they are still one of the most popular credit card brands in the US and in the world. However, there are many places where AmEx is not accepted, so if your only credit card is AmEx, be prepared for unpleasant surprises.
About 20 or 30 years ago the situation was different. American Express was more widely accepted, partially because of its marketing tricks. American Express signed contracts with shops, restaurants and other companies, making them to reject all other competitors' cards and accept nothing but American Express. The trick did not work for long because the merchants suffered losses because of it, especially having in mind that other issuers offered them better conditions. Besides, there were legal grounds to dispute this practice and finally American Express had to give it up. So, American Express could not keep its monopoly and had to fight for market share by other means.
Despite the fact that American Express is not as widely accepted as it used to be, it is still one of the major credit cards. Like all credit card issuers, American Express offers the full range of credit card products both for individuals and for companies. Probably the choice is not as big as with Chase cards (which are issuers of both Visa and MasterCard), for example but still American Express manages to cover all segments on the market.
A couple of years ago one of the novelties in the American Express portfolio was the Blue card. American Express has traditionally been oriented towards richer segments but offering a cheap credit card for people with low income was certainly a success because it helped American Express to regain popularity. Besides the Blue card (which comes in many varieties), American Express also offers Green, Gold and Platinum Cards (which also come in several varieties), which are still targeted to customers with good credit and high income but are affordable even by people who are not top-notch payees with astronomic salary.
The credit cards for the rich are still an important part of the American Express arsenal – for instance one of the emblematic American Express credit cards – the Centurion has an annual fee of $2,500 and is certainly targeted to the richest customers on the market. Well, not all American Express credit cards, not even their corporate ones, have an annual fee that high but many users of the Centurion have seen that the high annual fee is compensated in other ways and actually they benefit from having such an expensive card. For people who are not willing or can't pay such a high annual fee, there are other options - there are cards that have no annual fee at all but they usually don't all the benefits of the more expensive ones.
Still, American Express is especially good if you are rich and if you travel frequently. There are many credit cards with the American Express brand issued by hotel chains, restaurants, resorts, airlines, golf clubs, etc. like the Hilton Hotel, Starwood hotels and resorts and so on. Cards with different types of rewards, not only travel related ones, are issued both to individuals and companies and some of them are really a big deal for customers.