American Express Company (NYSE: AXP) agreed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to resolve issues that grew out of a previously disclosed internal review of its card product offerings in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands (PRVI) and the Pacific Territories. A consent order was signed by the CFPB, American Express Centurion Bank and American Express Bank, FSB.
As part of an internal review that the company began in 2012, it determined that certain cards issued in those markets through its international business did not uniformly have the same terms, conditions and features as the cards the company offered in the Continental United States. The company routinely customizes products for the United States and for markets around the world to ensure that its services and benefits are locally relevant and provide superior value to Card Members. The products in the U.S. Territories were very competitive with local offerings, and they were always made available to qualified individuals without regard to race or ethnicity. However, by law, these products should not have varied from their Continental U.S. counterparts.
Once the company discovered its error, it took comprehensive action. In 2013, American Express reported this matter to the CFPB and changed the terms and features of these cards to match its mainland products. The company identified those cases where customers would have benefited from having the Continental U.S. terms and features. It looked back over a decade to determine the value of those benefits. And, as the CFPB acknowledged, the company voluntarily provided about $95 million in compensation to affected and potentially affected customers retroactively. Those payments were made in 2013-2016.
In its announcement today, the CFPB acknowledged that the company took responsibility for its errors and independently provided restitution to its customers. However, the CFPB also maintains that the differences between the cards the company issued in the U.S. Territories and those it issued in the Continental U.S. prior to March 2013 amounted to discrimination. American Express absolutely does not agree with this claim. The company is committed to making its products available to every qualified person regardless of race or ethnic background, and it does not use race or ethnicity as a determining factor for credit. American Express does not tolerate discrimination in any form and is committed to ensuring that consumers are treated fairly. Having long since taken actions that the CFPB subsequently ratified, the company decided to settle with them rather than go through years of litigation that would have provided no additional value to any of its customers.
About American Express
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