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American Express Celebrates 172 Years of Powerful Backing

March 18, 2022

From steamboat commutes and handwritten transactions to today’s innovation-led company, we look at how American Express has evolved to meet the needs of its customers, colleagues, and communities.

American Express celebrates its 172nd birthday on March 18, 2022. For us, that’s a time to reflect on our vision to provide the world’s best customer experience every day and how that work has evolved to support our customers, colleagues, and communities.

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 64,000 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.

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.

2022: American Express Travel has become one of the world’s largest travel agencies. Today, the travel agency has global partnerships with 71 hotel brands and 2,100 hotel properties, 44 global airline partners, 17 global cruise partners, and 20 global 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.

2022: 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.

2022: Today, Canada and Mexico are among the top five strategic countries where American Express operates and have become top travel destinations for customers around the world.

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

2022: 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).

2022: 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.

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

2022: 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.

2022: 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.

 

1997: We became one of the first financial institutions to offer domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples in the U.S.

2022: 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 inaugural DE&I Report , and for a holistic view of the many ways the company responsibly backs our colleagues, customers and communities check out our annual 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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