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American Express Celebrates 173 Years of Powerful Backing


American Express celebrates its 173rd anniversary this March. For us, this is a time to reflect on our vision to provide the world’s best customer experience every day and how we continue to innovate to meet our customers where they are.

Since the earliest reference to the company’s 1,500 colleagues in 1862, we have transformed from a freight-forwarding company to a global financial services and lifestyle company with more than 77,000 colleagues around the world. The meaningful work of our team drives us forward, backed by a longstanding commitment to deliver exceptional products, services and experiences every day.

“There is so much rich history that has helped shape Amex into the company it is today – and as we have grown and evolved, we continue to remain true to our customer service ethos and values,” said Ira Galtman, Director of Corporate Archives at American Express.

“While our archives are extensive, I’m especially fond of the Centurion symbol. First introduced in 1951, the Centurion lives on today and has become a part of our overall brand identity, representing trust and security.” 

Below, we encourage you to read a few highlights from American Express’ story since its earliest beginnings in 1850.

1850: Horse-and-wagon teams powered our freight-forwarding service, primarily in the Northeast and Midwest parts of the United States.

2023: American Express Travel has become one of the world’s largest travel agencies. Today, the travel agency has partnerships with 75 hotel brands and 2,300 hotel properties, 30 airline partners, 17 cruise partners, and 20 tour partners.

1850: We opened our first office in 1850. This was followed by our first headquarters building in 1858, which was located at 61 Hudson Street, New York. Colleagues would commute by steam ferryboats and horse-drawn omnibuses.

2023: Today, our global colleagues can choose to work in the office, hybrid, or fully virtual as part of Amex Flex, the company’s new way of working model.

1853: American Express’ express delivery business expanded into Canada, followed by Mexico in the 1880s, shipping packages and other valuables to customers there.

2023: Today, American Express serves customers around the world, giving them the products and services they need to help them achieve their aspirations.

1878: Amex was connected to a national delivery network by the 1870s, serving customers including manufacturers, merchants, grocers and farmers. It was at this time that Amex created the Order & Commission Department (O&C) to purchase and deliver competitively-priced goods that ranged from machine parts to fresh produce.

2023: The company continues to meet the needs of businesses by offering relevant Business Card products and evolved services including frictionless business-to-business (B2B) payments and a Business Blueprint to help small businesses digitally manage their payments and cash flow from one place.

1921: We supported our first entertainment and sports event by shipping racing cars from the U.S. to the French Grand Prix.

2023: Today, American Express is a sponsor of some of the world’s largest national and global entertainment and sports properties including the NBA/WNBA, Wimbledon, The US Open, The American Express, and music festivals like Coachella, among many others.

1958: Our first card transaction was processed manually using handwritten forms completed by the merchant and mailed to American Express. By the early-1960s, we were using plastic, embossed cards and merchants processed transactions using card swipers to capture Card Member information and produce Records of Charges (ROCs).

2023: Card Members today can pay for purchases in a variety of ways including swiping or dipping Cards, tapping to pay, or setting up autopay. American Express has also introduced the ability to get an Instant Card Number to begin spending online, as soon as a Card Member is approved, as well as instantly add their Amex Card to various mobile wallets.

1960s: American Express used tabletop light boxes or illuminated signs featuring the Centurion as a symbol of trust and security. This was used at shops and travel offices to let Card Members know their cards were welcomed.

2023: American Express continues to expand ‘The Artist Series’, teaming up with local artists across the world to design custom signage for merchants to proudly display in stores, on their websites, and through social media, to let their customers know they are always welcome.

1961: American Express first installed a data processing computer system for in-office use only by a few specially trained colleagues.

2023: Today, our global, scaled, and flexible technology stack enables innovation, best in class customer experiences and partnerships.

1984: American Express first introduced the Platinum Card® in 1984 in the U.S. and Canada. By 1997, the proprietary Platinum Card was available in 13 countries including Australia, Belgium, Hong Kong (first market in Southeast Asia), the Netherlands, Sweden, among others.

2023: Today, the proprietary Platinum Card® is available to American Express Card Members in 23 countries* and offers travel and everyday benefits and services across dining, wellness, retail and entertainment, including access to the recently expanded The Centurion® Network, with over 40 lounge locations worldwide.

2023: We remain committed to progressing our multi-year action plan to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion priorities. First announced in October 2020, the plan includes a series of internal and external initiatives, commitments, and resources supported by $1 billion in investments – all with a goal of enhancing diverse representation and equal opportunities for colleagues, customers, and communities. An update on our progress towards this goal can be found in our DE&I Report, and for a holistic view of the many ways the company responsibly backs our colleagues, customers and communities check out our ESG Report.

*American Express offers the Platinum Card® through Global Network Services and Joint Venture partnerships in other countries. These are excluded from the indicated proprietary countries noted.

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