freyj6 wrote:I just don't get it. Why are AMEX cards so popular? At least to me, it seems that very few cards can justify their annual fee, unless you just really love lounge access or some other elite service perk.
In a word -- backdating. THIS is a feature that sets AMEX apart from all other card issuers. This becomes important in 2 ways;
1 - For a customer that previously had an AMEX card, let it lapse or perhaps burned AMEX, reapplying and getting a card backdates the membership date to the year of the original card and the month in which one applies. Hence, on my 3 AMEX cards, I have a "member since" date of 1991. My BCP in my siggy is my most current, having just acquired it (replacing a Clear that is still active). So I will have a total of 4 AMEX cards showing a MSD of 1991. This factors in to my AAofA and, with this new addition, change my AAofA positively.
2 - For a person just starting out in their credit journey, getting an AMEX card early on will have the same benefit. Let's say a 25year old consumer gets their first AMEX card this year, uses it judiciously, reaps some of the benefits that they have with their card. In a year or so, or maybe in a few years, they may decide to apply for another card. Again, that MSD would then backdate to 2014 as the year, but whatever month they apply in. So, theoretically, a card that they apply for in January of 2016, could appear to be older than a card issued in March of 2014!
For many folks, this backdating is the prime reason to have an AMEX card.
One other aspect; for many of us with the chargers, since they are PIF cards, it forces us to pay up at the end of the billing cycle when that due date approaches. Many folks anecdotally report that they use their AMEX chargers like a debit card, since it has to be paid. Why not reap some benefits from it? Yes, there are cards with better bennies. But the above reasons are what, for many, make AMEX desirable.