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How Did American Express Move Ahead Of MasterCard?

Posted on Feb 27, 2012

American Express has moved ahead of MasterCard to emerge as the second most popular credit card based on spending at merchants.

Findings from The Nilson Report show that American Express posted a 13.4 percent purchasing volume increase to $540 billion in 2011. That compares to 6.1 percent and $508 billion for MasterCard.

This is the first time since MasterCard was known as MasterCard back in the 1960s that American Express has experienced more purchase volume, said David Robertson, publisher of The Nilson Report.

Visa retained the top spot while Discover ranked fourth among credit card brands in the U.S., according to a Business Wire article at Yahoo! Finance.

American Express' success may speak to the focus that the company puts on its members, explained a payments processing expert at US Dataworks. American Express is highly committed to providing member services and has used that to differentiate itself among card brands.

It's also interesting to note that American Express caters more to high net worth individuals and corporate spending. That may say a lot about who was buying in 2011.

Either way, the overall numbers show that consumers weren't skimpy about using plastic for purchases. The four major credit card brands Visa, American Express, MasterCard and Discover combined to generate $3.595 trillion in purchase volume last year, up 10.4 percent from 2010.

That marked the first double-digit growth since 2007 and should put to rest any speculation that credit card payments are losing ground.

Source: Yahoo Finance, February 2012