- Centurion Member
- Posts: 639
- Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2013 8:45 pm
- Location: Grand Forks, ND
Take a trip back in a time machine with me back to twenty years ago. Sure, we'll go to the Nirvana concert, but first let's see what's in the average Joe Six-Pack's wallet. Chances are he probably has a Visa and/or MasterCard credit card (but not a debit card) in his wallet, but no Amex card. If he is one of the exclusive few people who has one in his wallet, it's almost surely issued by American Express, not someone else. Because banks which issued Visa and/or MasterCard at the time were prohibited by their licensing agreements with V/MC from issuing either Amex or Discover cards.
Sure. American Express wanted a piece of the bank-issuing pie, but there were upsides to this dilemma. American Express was the most exclusive card issuer in large part because they had total control over who got an American Express Card. There were a few rare exceptions- some brokerages offered American Express deferred debit cards and similar cards, but they themselves were pretty exclusive as well. I remember reading a financial book from the late 80's and one of the recommendations in the chapter on credit was to get an American Express Card and keep it. At the time, credit issuers would see American Express in your file and look no further. If Amex approved you, you were almost guaranteed a car loan or mortgage. So American Express may have lost out on a ton of bank-issuing fees, but their reputation was golden. Couple that reputation with impeccable service and benefits and as those Visa commercials might say- was priceless...
Fast forward to a few years ago... American Express(and Discover) win their antitrust lawsuit against the "big two" and wins the right to let other banks issue cards on their network. So did Amex win the battle, but lose a bigger war?
So today we have lots of banks which issue Amex cards including FNBO which issues cards on all of the "big four" networks and Bank of America. True, their Amex cards tend to usually be one of the higher tier cards, but it's only a matter of time before we have the Amex equivalent of "the Matrix Card" or even the "Credit One Amex Card." There's even Amex prepaid cards such as the Bluebird card. So in twenty years, we've gone from someone proudly pulling out their Amex card and giving it to the merchant knowing that they will be treated well simply because "Amex = High spender" to having the people from "My Name is Earl" slapping their prepaid Amex card loaded with their welfare check onto the Wal-Mart counter. And when Earl has a problem with his First Progress Amex card, calls the number on the back of the card, and gets poor customer service from somebody in Bangladesh whose knowledge of English is limited to what's written on his cue cards, he tells everyone he knows how much American Express customer service sucks.
I know I sound a little bit "snooty" in this post, but I'm just trying to think of this from Amex's point of view. I know they've made a ton of money from the extra bank fees in the past few years, but have they damaged the brand they've spent decades trying to build? Even their premium products no longer have the same air of exclusiveness about them. It used to be "the Gold Card" and "the Platinum Card" only meant one thing, but today you can go to the First Premier website and get approved for a gold AND platinum card in five minutes. Even the most exclusive of exclusive cards' nickname (the Black Card) isn't owned by Amex. The term "Black Card" is trademarked by Visa!
Is Karl Malden rolling over in his grave?
In my Wallet:
Sometimes in my Wallet:
- Amex PRG NPSL[3-14, bd 91]
- Sallie Mae MC $8000[1-14]
- Chase Freedom $4700[1-14]
- Discover It $2750[8-13]
- BoA UCF Alumni Cash Rewards $5000 [3-15]
- GM BuyPower WEMC $5000[9-14]
- Wells Fargo Propel 365 Amex $7000[4-14]
- Barclaycard Arrival WEMC $7000[3-14]
- BoA Better Balance $3000[2-15]
In my sockdrawer: Amex BCE $1000[10-13, bd 91], OCCU Duck $10000 [11-13], The Sportsman's Guide Visa $8000[8-14], Chase Slate $4000 [9-14]Delta Gold Amex $2000 [2-15 bd 91], Diners Club MC $20000 [10-14] Commerce Bank Visa $2000 [3-15] Citi Double Cash $1000 [3-15]
Total CL: $90450