The next time you see someone pull out an Amex or Centurion card, you might want to introduce yourself.
American Express holders spend almost double the amount per month that consumers swiping Visa, Discover and MasterCard, says Morgan Stanley consumer and specialty finance analyst Cheryl Pate. And there’s substance behind that difference.
“While competition has intensified and some competitors are picking up share, Amex continues to resonate with affluent customers,” writes Pate. “Amex’s primary cardmember base skews much higher to affluent clients than other networks.”
According to her research, the typical Amex primary card holder spends $1,687 per month compared to $843, $737 and $639 for Visa, Discover and MasterCard respectively. The jump in spending over the past decade by Amex card holders is significantly greater than that for any of its competitors.
Since 2006, Amex card holders have increased their monthly spending by 93% compared to 57%, 23% and 15% for Visa, MasterCard and Discover.
Historically, Amex card holders have spent more than any of the other credit card companies, a sign they’re wealthier both in terms of net worth and income, says Pate.
Amex created the Centurion Card in 1999 in response to the urban myth that it offered a mysterious “black” charge card that had no limit and was for high-net-worth advisors only. To get this card one has to pay an initiation fee of $7,500 along with a $2,500 annual fee. Made of titanium, existing Amex card holders who spend and pay off in full $250,000 per year, have annual income of $1 million or more and a net worth of $10 million or more generally qualify.