American Express’ Number of Cards in Force (2016 – 2022)

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This statistic highlights American Express’ Number of Cards in Force, split between International Region and the U.S., reported on a quarterly basis from Q1 2016 onwards.
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This statistic highlights American Express’ Number of Cards in Force, split between International Region and the U.S., reported on a quarterly basis from Q1 2016 onwards.

American Express’ Number of Cards in Force

The Cards-in-force statistic represents the total number of cards that are issued and outstanding by American Express along with those issued and outstanding under network partnership agreements with banks and other institutions. The ones that are issued by the company itself, are referred to as proprietary cards-in-force and joint venture cards are referred to as GNS (Global Network Services) cards-in-force. These cards are exclusive of the GNS retail cobrand cards.

Of the total Cards-in-force, the company even has a Basic cards-in-force statistic, which excludes supplemental cards issued on consumer accounts. The card in force statistic is useful for the company to understand the size of their Card Member base. On a QoQ basis, the number of cards in force increased from 119.2 million in Q3 2021 to 121.7 million cards in Q4 2021, which is an increase of 2.5 million cards (2.1% increase). Even on a YoY basis, there was an increase of 9.7 million cards (8.7% increase), from 112 million in Q4 2020 to 121.7 million cards in Q4 2021. 

Here we analyze the Number of Cards globally. The following table highlights American Express’ Number of Cards in Force in some of its recent quarters:

Region Q4 2020  Q3 2021  Q4 2021  Contribution in Q4 2021
International 58.2 63.2 65.3 53.66%
U.S. 53.8 56 56.4 46.34%
Total 112 119.2 121.7 100.00%

(All figures in millions, except the percentages)

International Region

The number of cards issued and outstanding globally, excluding the United States, are included in this category. A majority of the total cards issued and outstanding, about 52% each quarter, are from this region. 

On an aggregate level, the number of cards issued has remained stable, with an absolute increase of 7.8% from Q1 2016. However, there have been many fluctuations during the six years. The statistic increased steadily until 2017, however, it had a continuous decline until 2020. Post the pandemic, the number of cards in force has increased exponentially. On a QoQ basis, there was an increase of 2.1 million cards (3.3% increase) from 63.2 million in Q3 2021 to 65.3 million cards in Q4 2021. Even on a YoY basis, there was an increase of 7.1 million cards (12.2% increase), from 58.2 million in Q4 2020 to 65.3 million cards in Q4 2021. 

U.S. Region

The number of cards issued and outstanding in the United States is included in this category. About 48% of the total cards issued are from this region.

When we compare the statistic on an aggregate level, that is from Q1 2016, we observe a decline of 2.6% in the number of cards issued. However, this was just a spike, and starting Q2 2016, the number of cards issued has grown linearly until 2018 and remained more or less the same until 2020. Post the pandemic, there has been a reportable increase. On a QoQ basis, the number of issued cards rose to 56.4 million in Q4 2021, an increase of 0.4 million from Q3 2021 (2.56% increase). On a YoY basis too, there was an increase of 2.6 million cards (4.8% increase) from 53.8 million Q4 2020 to 56.4 million Q4 2021. 

About the Company

American Express (NYSE: AXP) is a global payments corporation, founded in 1850 as a joint-stock association & incorporated in 1965 as a New York corporation. It connects people, providing them information, products, and experiences that help improve their lives and succeed in business. They are a global leader in offering credit and charge cards to individuals, small businesses, medium-sized organizations, and major corporations. The company’s Card Members can use American Express cards to pay for products and services at the millions of businesses worldwide that accept the brand. These cards are issued by American Express itself, as well as various third-party banks and other institutions on the American Express network. The company is headquartered in Manhattan, New York City, and is also one of the 30 components of the Dow Jones Index.

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