Presentations made painless

Company > American Express: Business Model, SWOT Analysis, and Competitors 2023

American Express: Business Model, SWOT Analysis, and Competitors 2023

Published: Jan 20, 2023

Inside This Article


    In this blog article, we will delve into the business model of American Express and explore its key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats through a comprehensive SWOT analysis. As we look ahead to 2023, we will examine the competitive landscape for American Express, considering its major rivals and assessing how the company is positioned to navigate the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities in the market. Join us as we analyze the strategies and prospects of American Express, a leading player in the financial services industry.

    What You Will Learn:

    • Who owns American Express and how the ownership structure of the company is organized.
    • The mission statement of American Express and how it guides the company's strategic decisions and operations.
    • How American Express generates revenue and the various ways it makes money, including its business model and revenue streams.
    • An explanation of the American Express Business Model Canvas, including the key components and how they contribute to the company's success.
    • An overview of the main competitors of American Express and the competitive landscape in the financial services industry.
    • A comprehensive SWOT analysis of American Express, highlighting its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to better understand its position in the market.

    Who owns American Express?

    American Express, also known as Amex, is a multinational financial services corporation based in the United States. With a rich history dating back to 1850, American Express has grown to become one of the most recognizable and influential companies in the financial industry. But who exactly owns American Express?

    Shareholders and Ownership Structure

    American Express is a publicly traded company, meaning that its ownership is divided among shareholders who hold its stock. The company's stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol "AXP." As of [current date], American Express has a market capitalization of [market cap], indicating its overall value in the stock market.

    The ownership structure of American Express is dispersed among a wide range of institutional investors, mutual funds, individual shareholders, and company insiders. These stakeholders own shares of the company, entitling them to a portion of its profits and influencing its decision-making processes.

    Key Shareholders

    While American Express has numerous shareholders, there are a few key stakeholders who hold significant ownership stakes and have notable influence over the company:

    1. Vanguard Group: As one of the world's largest investment management companies, Vanguard Group is a major shareholder in American Express. It holds a substantial number of shares through various funds and accounts managed by the company.

    2. BlackRock: Another prominent investment management firm, BlackRock, owns a significant portion of American Express shares. With its diverse range of funds and accounts, BlackRock has a considerable presence in the company's ownership structure.

    3. State Street Corporation: State Street Corporation, a leading financial services company, is also a notable shareholder in American Express. Through its various subsidiaries and investment arms, State Street Corporation holds a substantial number of shares in the company.

    Insider Ownership

    Apart from institutional investors, American Express also has a significant level of insider ownership. Insiders refer to individuals who hold key positions within the company, such as executives, directors, and other employees. These insiders often acquire shares as part of their compensation packages or through stock purchase plans.

    Notably, the Chairman and CEO of American Express, Stephen Squeri, holds a considerable ownership stake in the company. His ownership aligns his interests with those of other shareholders, emphasizing the importance of driving value for all investors.


    American Express is owned by a diverse group of shareholders, including institutional investors, mutual funds, individual investors, and company insiders. This ownership structure ensures a broad base of ownership and influence within the company. Key stakeholders such as Vanguard Group, BlackRock, and State Street Corporation, along with company insiders like the CEO, play a significant role in shaping the future direction of American Express.

    What is the mission statement of American Express?

    The Mission Statement of American Express

    American Express, one of the leading global payment solutions and financial services corporations, has a clear and concise mission statement that guides its operations and strategic decisions. The mission statement of American Express is:

    "To be the world's most respected service brand."

    This statement reflects the company's commitment to providing exceptional service and building strong relationships with its customers. American Express aims to not only meet but exceed the expectations of its customers by offering valuable and innovative financial solutions.

    By emphasizing the goal of being the world's most respected service brand, American Express places a strong emphasis on trustworthiness, reliability, and customer satisfaction. The company understands that trust is the foundation of its business, and it strives to establish and maintain that trust through its actions and interactions with customers.

    American Express focuses on delivering an outstanding customer experience by providing personalized solutions, convenient services, and superior support. The company believes in going above and beyond to meet the evolving needs of its customers, ensuring that they have access to the financial tools and resources necessary for their success.

    In addition to its commitment to customers, American Express also values its relationship with stakeholders, including employees, partners, and shareholders. The company aims to create a positive and inclusive work environment where employees are empowered to contribute their best and grow professionally. American Express also recognizes the importance of collaboration and strategic alliances with partners to further enhance its service offerings.

    Overall, the mission statement of American Express serves as a guiding principle that drives the company's actions and strategies. By prioritizing exceptional service and building trust, American Express aims to maintain its position as a leader in the global financial services industry while remaining focused on the needs and satisfaction of its customers.

    *Note: The mission statement provided here is a representation based on publicly available information and should not be considered an official statement from American Express.

    How does American Express make money?

    Merchant Fees

    One of the primary ways American Express makes money is through merchant fees. When a customer uses an American Express card to make a purchase, the merchant accepting the card is charged a fee for processing the transaction. This fee is typically a percentage of the total transaction amount.

    American Express offers different types of merchant fee structures, including flat-rate fees and interchange fees. Flat-rate fees are a fixed percentage charged on all transactions, while interchange fees vary depending on factors such as the type of card used, the industry of the merchant, and the transaction volume.

    These merchant fees contribute significantly to American Express's revenue stream, as they are charged on millions of transactions processed every day. The fees are an essential source of income for the company and help cover operational costs and generate profits.

    Cardmember Fees

    Another way American Express generates revenue is through cardmember fees. American Express offers various credit cards with different benefits and rewards programs, some of which come with an annual fee. These fees range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the card's features and perks.

    Cardmember fees contribute to American Express's profitability as they provide a recurring revenue stream. The company invests in offering exclusive benefits to cardmembers, such as access to airport lounges, travel credits, concierge services, and enhanced rewards programs. These premium features justify the annual fees and attract customers who value the added perks.

    Interest Income

    Like other credit card issuers, American Express earns a significant amount of money through interest income. When cardmembers carry balances on their American Express credit cards and do not pay the full amount owed each month, interest charges are applied to the remaining balance.

    The interest rates on credit card balances can be relatively high, providing American Express with substantial interest income. This revenue stream is particularly lucrative when cardmembers carry large balances or make minimum payments, resulting in more interest charges over time.

    It is important to note that interest income can be a double-edged sword for American Express. While it contributes to revenue, the company must manage credit risk by ensuring cardmembers can repay their balances and minimizing default rates.

    Co-Branded Partnerships

    American Express also generates revenue through co-branded partnerships with various companies. These partnerships involve creating credit cards that carry both the American Express logo and the logo of the partnering company. These cards often come with unique rewards and benefits tailored to the partnering company's target audience.

    Through these co-branded partnerships, American Express earns revenue from interchange fees, merchant fees, and cardmember fees associated with the co-branded cards. Additionally, the partnering companies may pay American Express for the privilege of using their brand and leveraging their extensive network of merchants and cardmembers.

    Co-branded partnerships allow American Express to expand its customer base, increase transaction volumes, and generate additional revenue streams. They also provide partnering companies with a trusted payment platform and access to American Express's global network.

    In conclusion, American Express makes money through various revenue streams. Merchant fees, cardmember fees, interest income, and co-branded partnerships all contribute to the company's financial success. These revenue sources allow American Express to invest in innovative products, enhance customer experiences, and maintain its position as a leading credit card issuer.

    American Express Business Model Canvas Explained


    The American Express Business Model Canvas is a strategic tool that provides a comprehensive overview of how American Express creates, delivers, and captures value in their business. This canvas helps to visualize the key elements of their business model and understand the relationships between them.

    Key Partnerships

    One of the key elements of American Express's business model is their strategic partnerships. They collaborate with various stakeholders to enhance their offering and reach a wider customer base. American Express forms partnerships with merchants, financial institutions, and other organizations to expand their network and provide value-added services to their customers. These partnerships help American Express to offer exclusive deals, discounts, and rewards to their cardholders, which in turn drives customer loyalty and increases card usage.

    Key Activities

    American Express engages in several key activities to deliver value to their customers. They focus on providing payment solutions, issuing credit cards, and offering financial services to individuals and businesses. Additionally, American Express invests heavily in technology and innovation to stay ahead of the competition. They continuously enhance their digital platforms and online services to provide seamless and secure payment experiences for their customers. Moreover, American Express undertakes rigorous risk management activities to ensure the safety of transactions and protect their customers' financial data.

    Key Resources

    To support their business activities, American Express relies on various key resources. One of the most critical resources is their extensive network of merchants and partners. American Express leverages this network to offer a wide range of products and services to their customers. They also have a strong brand reputation and a large customer base, which contributes to their competitive advantage. Furthermore, American Express invests in technology infrastructure, data analytics capabilities, and customer service centers to deliver superior customer experiences.

    Value Proposition

    American Express's value proposition revolves around providing premium financial services and exceptional customer experiences. Their credit cards offer a range of benefits such as travel rewards, cashback, and exclusive access to events and experiences. American Express focuses on delivering personalized solutions and tailored experiences to meet the unique needs of their customers. They also prioritize security and fraud protection to ensure peace of mind for their cardholders. Overall, American Express aims to provide value beyond just payment processing and become a trusted financial partner for individuals and businesses.

    Customer Segments

    American Express targets a diverse range of customer segments. They offer personal cards for individuals looking for premium benefits and rewards. Additionally, they cater to small businesses, corporate clients, and large enterprises with specialized products and services tailored to their needs. American Express understands the different requirements of each customer segment and designs solutions accordingly to maximize customer satisfaction and loyalty.


    American Express utilizes various channels to reach their customers and deliver their value proposition. They have a strong online presence through their website and mobile app, allowing customers to access their accounts, make payments, and manage their finances conveniently. American Express also operates a network of customer service centers to provide assistance and support to their cardholders. Furthermore, they leverage their partnerships with merchants to offer exclusive deals and discounts, attracting customers to use their cards for transactions.

    Revenue Streams

    American Express generates revenue primarily through transaction fees charged to merchants for processing payments. They also earn interest income from lending activities and fees from annual card membership. Additionally, American Express generates revenue from foreign exchange fees, late payment fees, and other service charges. Their revenue streams are diversified, allowing them to withstand market fluctuations and economic downturns.


    The American Express Business Model Canvas provides a comprehensive understanding of how American Express creates, delivers, and captures value in their business. By analyzing the key elements of their business model, such as partnerships, activities, resources, value proposition, customer segments, channels, and revenue streams, it becomes evident how American Express has built a successful and sustainable business in the financial services industry.

    Which companies are the competitors of American Express?

    Major Credit Card Companies

    American Express faces tough competition from other major credit card companies. Some of its biggest competitors include:

    1. Visa: Visa is a global payments technology company that operates one of the world's largest electronic payment networks. With a wide acceptance network, Visa offers credit, debit, and prepaid cards to individuals and businesses worldwide. Visa's extensive presence and partnerships make it a formidable competitor to American Express.

    2. Mastercard: Similar to Visa, Mastercard is a multinational financial services corporation that provides payment solutions to customers globally. It offers a range of credit, debit, and prepaid cards, and its network is widely accepted across the world. Mastercard's strong brand recognition and widespread acceptance make it a key rival to American Express.

    3. Discover: Discover Financial Services is a direct banking and payment services company that offers credit cards, loans, and other financial products. While not as globally recognized as Visa or Mastercard, Discover has a significant presence in the United States and competes with American Express for market share, particularly in the domestic market.

    Payment Processors and Networks

    Apart from major credit card companies, American Express also faces competition from payment processors and networks that facilitate transactions. Some notable competitors in this space include:

    1. PayPal: PayPal is a leading online payment platform that allows individuals and businesses to make secure transactions electronically. With its large user base and widespread acceptance, PayPal offers an alternative payment option to credit cards, challenging American Express and other card issuers.

    2. Square: Square is a financial services and digital payment company that provides small businesses with a range of payment solutions. Its hardware and software offerings allow merchants to accept card payments easily. Square's emphasis on simplicity and affordability attracts small businesses, potentially impacting American Express's market share in this segment.

    3. Stripe: Stripe is a technology company that offers a suite of software tools for online transactions. It enables businesses to accept payments securely and build customized payment experiences. Stripe's focus on developers and its robust infrastructure make it a competitor to American Express, particularly in the e-commerce space.

    Financial Institutions

    Additionally, American Express competes with various financial institutions that issue credit cards and provide similar financial services. Some prominent competitors in this category include:

    1. Chase: JPMorgan Chase & Co, commonly known as Chase, is one of the largest banking institutions in the United States. It offers a wide range of financial products, including credit cards, and competes with American Express in terms of card offerings, rewards programs, and customer service.

    2. Citibank: Citibank, a subsidiary of Citigroup, is a major global bank that provides various financial services, including credit cards. With a strong presence in the United States and internationally, Citibank competes with American Express for customers seeking credit card options and banking services.

    3. Bank of America: Bank of America is another prominent banking institution that offers credit cards and a comprehensive suite of financial products. Its extensive network of branches and ATMs, along with its credit card offerings, pose competition to American Express in the consumer and business segments.

    By considering these major credit card companies, payment processors and networks, and financial institutions, it becomes evident that American Express operates in a highly competitive landscape. The company must continuously innovate and provide value to its customers to stay ahead in the market.

    American Express SWOT Analysis


    • Brand recognition: American Express is a globally recognized brand known for its prestige and exclusivity. Its brand image has been built over decades of providing high-quality financial services to affluent customers.

    • Strong customer loyalty: American Express has a long-standing reputation for excellent customer service and personalized attention. This has resulted in a high level of customer loyalty, with many customers choosing to stick with the company for their financial needs.

    • Extensive merchant network: American Express has established partnerships with a wide range of merchants, both online and offline. This extensive network allows cardholders to enjoy various benefits, such as exclusive offers, discounts, and access to special events.

    • Diverse product portfolio: American Express offers a diverse range of financial products and services, including credit cards, charge cards, travel services, and insurance. This allows the company to cater to different customer segments and meet a variety of financial needs.


    • Limited acceptance: Compared to major credit card networks like Visa and Mastercard, American Express has relatively limited acceptance globally. Some merchants may choose not to accept American Express due to higher transaction fees or perceived exclusivity, which can be a disadvantage for cardholders.

    • Higher fees: American Express cards generally have higher annual fees and transaction fees compared to other credit card providers. While these fees may be justified by the premium services and benefits offered, they can deter price-sensitive customers from choosing American Express.

    • Reliance on affluent customer base: American Express has traditionally focused on serving affluent customers, which can be a weakness during economic downturns or when targeting younger, less affluent customer segments. This reliance on a specific demographic may limit the company's growth potential in certain markets.


    • Expanding into emerging markets: American Express has the opportunity to tap into emerging markets where there is a growing middle class and increased demand for financial services. By expanding its presence in these markets, the company can capture new customer segments and drive revenue growth.

    • Partnerships with fintech companies: Collaborating with fintech startups and technology companies can help American Express stay relevant in the rapidly evolving financial services industry. These partnerships can provide access to innovative technologies and enable the company to offer new and enhanced digital payment solutions to its customers.

    • Digital transformation: Investing in digital technologies and platforms can enable American Express to enhance its customer experience, streamline operations, and improve efficiency. Embracing digital transformation can also help the company attract tech-savvy customers and compete with digital-first financial service providers.


    • Intense competition: The financial services industry is highly competitive, with numerous players vying for market share. American Express faces competition from not only traditional banks but also fintech startups, digital payment platforms, and other credit card providers. This intense competition can pose a threat to the company's market position and profitability.

    • Economic downturns: American Express, like any financial institution, is vulnerable to economic downturns. During periods of economic recession, customers may reduce their spending, resulting in lower transaction volumes and revenue for the company.

    • Regulatory challenges: The financial services industry is subject to extensive regulations and compliance requirements. Changes in regulations can impact American Express's operations and profitability. Additionally, regulatory scrutiny around issues such as privacy and data security can pose reputational risks for the company.

    Key Takeaways

    • American Express is a publicly traded company, meaning it is owned by its shareholders.
    • The mission statement of American Express is to provide the world's best customer experience every day.
    • American Express primarily generates revenue through fees charged to merchants for accepting their cards, interest charged on credit card balances, and annual membership fees.
    • The American Express Business Model Canvas outlines the key elements of the company's business model, including customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key activities, key resources, and key partnerships.
    • Competitors of American Express include Visa, Mastercard, and Discover, among others.
    • A SWOT analysis of American Express reveals its strengths in customer loyalty and brand recognition, weaknesses in its limited acceptance in certain regions, opportunities in expanding partnerships and digital offerings, and threats from increasing competition and changing consumer preferences.


    In conclusion, American Express is a well-known financial services company that has been operating for over 170 years. It is a publicly-owned company, with its shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange. American Express's mission statement is to be the world's most respected service brand, known for its trustworthiness and exceptional customer service.

    American Express primarily makes money through various revenue streams, including transaction fees, interest income, and annual membership fees. Its business model canvas is based on providing high-quality financial services to both individual consumers and businesses, with a focus on offering premium rewards and benefits to its cardholders.

    In terms of competition, American Express faces competition from other major credit card companies, such as Visa and Mastercard. However, it also competes with banks and other financial institutions that offer similar services to consumers and businesses.

    A SWOT analysis of American Express highlights its strengths, such as its strong brand image and loyal customer base, as well as its weaknesses, such as its higher fees and limited acceptance compared to some of its competitors. It also identifies opportunities, such as expanding into emerging markets, and threats, such as increasing regulatory scrutiny and evolving consumer preferences.

    Overall, American Express has established itself as a leading player in the financial services industry, with a strong focus on providing exceptional services and benefits to its customers. While it faces competition and challenges, its long-standing reputation and innovative strategies position it well for continued success in the future.


    What are the weaknesses of American Express?

    Some of the weaknesses of American Express include:

    1. Limited acceptance: American Express cards are not as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard, especially in smaller businesses or in some international locations. This can limit the convenience and usability of American Express cards for some consumers.

    2. Higher fees: American Express charges higher fees to merchants compared to other credit card networks, which can discourage some businesses from accepting their cards. This may further limit the acceptance of American Express cards.

    3. Lower rewards in certain categories: While American Express offers attractive rewards programs, they may not be as competitive as other credit card issuers in certain categories, such as groceries or gas. This can be a drawback for consumers who prioritize rewards in these specific areas.

    4. Foreign transaction fees: American Express charges foreign transaction fees for purchases made outside of the United States, which can add significant costs for frequent international travelers.

    5. Limited banking services: American Express primarily operates as a credit card company and does not offer a wide range of banking services like traditional banks. This can be a disadvantage for consumers looking for a more comprehensive banking experience.

    6. Higher annual fees: American Express cards often come with annual fees, which can be higher compared to some other credit card issuers. This may discourage some customers who prefer no-annual-fee cards.

    7. Limited customer base: American Express cards have historically been associated with higher-income individuals and businesses. This can limit their customer base and appeal to a broader range of consumers.

    It's important to note that these weaknesses may not be significant for all consumers or businesses, and American Express also has several strengths and advantages in the market.

    What are American Express strengths?

    Some of American Express's strengths include:

    1. Brand recognition and reputation: American Express is a globally recognized brand known for its premium products and services. It has established a reputation for trust, security, and customer service.

    2. Strong customer base: American Express has a loyal customer base, particularly among affluent individuals and businesses. It offers various rewards and benefits to its customers, including travel perks, cashback, and exclusive experiences.

    3. Extensive merchant network: American Express has a vast network of merchants that accept its cards, both online and offline. This allows cardholders to use their cards at a wide range of establishments and enhances the convenience and utility of American Express products.

    4. Focus on customer experience: American Express prioritizes delivering excellent customer service and personalized experiences. It offers 24/7 customer support, tailored offers, and access to exclusive events and lounges for its cardholders.

    5. Strong financial position: American Express is financially stable and has a strong balance sheet. This enables it to invest in new technologies, expand its product offerings, and weather economic downturns more effectively.

    6. Innovation and technology: American Express continuously invests in technological advancements to enhance its digital capabilities, improve security measures, and provide innovative solutions to its customers. It has introduced features like contactless payments, mobile wallets, and digital tools for expense management.

    7. Global presence: American Express operates in over 130 countries, making it a globally recognized and accepted payment network. Its international presence allows it to serve customers and businesses around the world, facilitating seamless transactions and travel experiences.

    8. Partnerships and collaborations: American Express has formed strategic partnerships with various companies and organizations to offer additional benefits and rewards to its customers. These partnerships help enhance its product offerings and attract new customers.

    9. Focus on corporate social responsibility: American Express is committed to corporate social responsibility and actively engages in initiatives related to diversity, inclusion, environmental sustainability, and community development. This focus helps enhance its reputation and attract socially conscious customers.

    What are 5 examples of weakness in SWOT analysis?

    1. Limited resources: A company may have limited financial resources, which can hinder its ability to invest in new technologies or expand its operations.

    2. Lack of brand recognition: If a company is relatively unknown or has a weak brand image, it may struggle to compete with more established and recognizable brands in the market.

    3. Inefficient processes: Weaknesses can arise from inefficient internal processes, such as slow decision-making or high production costs, which can affect a company's overall performance and competitiveness.

    4. Dependence on a single product or customer: Relying heavily on a single product or customer can be risky, as any decline in demand or loss of that customer can significantly impact the company's revenue and profitability.

    5. Inadequate skills or expertise: A company may lack certain skills or expertise within its workforce, such as marketing, technology, or management capabilities, which can hinder its ability to adapt to changing market conditions or effectively execute its strategies.

    What is SWOT analysis for credit analysis?

    SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool that is commonly used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a business or organization. When applied to credit analysis, SWOT analysis helps to assess the creditworthiness and potential risks associated with a borrower or debtor.

    1. Strengths: In credit analysis, strengths refer to the positive attributes or factors that contribute to the borrower's ability to repay the loan or meet their credit obligations. This could include factors such as a stable income source, a good credit history, strong collateral, or a diversified customer base.

    2. Weaknesses: Weaknesses are the internal factors that may hinder the borrower's ability to repay the loan or meet their credit obligations. It could include factors such as a high debt-to-income ratio, poor credit history, lack of collateral, or reliance on a single customer or industry.

    3. Opportunities: Opportunities in credit analysis refer to external factors that could positively impact the borrower's creditworthiness or ability to repay the loan. This could include factors such as a growing market, favorable industry trends, or potential new business opportunities.

    4. Threats: Threats represent the external factors that pose risks or challenges to the borrower's creditworthiness or ability to repay the loan. This could include factors such as economic downturns, regulatory changes, industry competition, or customer defaults.

    By conducting a SWOT analysis for credit analysis, lenders or credit analysts can assess the overall risk profile of the borrower, identify potential areas of concern, and make informed decisions regarding credit approvals, loan terms, or risk mitigation strategies.

    Want to create a presentation now?

    • instantly

      Instantly Create A Deck

      Let PitchGrade do this for me

    • smile

      Hassle Free

      We will create your text and designs for you. Sit back and relax while we do the work.

    Explore More Content