Way back before the Civil War began, American Express was founded in 1850 in Buffalo, New York. With current headquarters in New York City, this financial giant has more than 54,000 employees and had $161 billion in assets in 2015. The company's main business is in credit cards, where it has a number of different products. American Express is different than other lenders due to its sheer size and financial backing, as well as its extensive credit card line. On the other hand, the company doesn't have other typical loan options such as mortgage loans, auto loans, student loans or personal loans.

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The Good

  • Time in Business
  • Financial Support
  • Cash-back Rewards

Time in Business

American Express has been around since the midpoint of the 19th century. When you do business with a company with this experience, you should have confidence that you're dealing with people who have industry expertise and who know all the ins and outs of credit cards and lending. 

Financial Support

American Express has long been solidified in the financial arena. The company is well established financially, meaning you shouldn't have to worry that it is going away anytime soon. 

Cash-Back Rewards

When you get a credit card through American Express, you'll likely have access to cash back rewards. With these, for every amount you charge, you are eligible for things such as discounts at restaurants and shopping centers as well as travel perks. We applaud American Express for offering cash-back rewards and making it worthwhile for people to use their credit cards. We also like that customer with good credit can secure better rates and limits. Customers continuously express appreciation for the number of options they have for personal credit cards and business credit cards. Some of these include the Everyday Credit Card, the Blue Cash Preferred Card and the Platinum card. Each of these has rewards and benefits.

The Bad

  • Not Widely Accepted
  • High Fees
  • Poor Customer Service

Not Widely Accepted

American Express cards are not accepted at all locations. You may find yourself abroad or in some store and not be able to use your card. It isn't as popular an option as Visa, for example. 

High Fees

The annual fees for American Express cards tend to be high. Though this fee will vary depending on the type of card you have, expect to pay handsomely for this additional cost.

Poor Customer Service

There is a common feeling that customer service fails to answer questions or provide adequate explanations for decisions. Wait times can be long, and some customers have experienced rude treatment for routine issues. American Express specializes in credit cards, so you won't find any other types of loans with this financial company. It's too bad customers in need can't take care of all their borrowing in one place, but you won't be able to obtain other types of loans here. Again, customers are frustrated with poor customer service. Some customers have experienced canceled cards with no warning, even when payments have been made on time. Another issue customers have is that the annual fees can reach up to $400 on some cards.

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The Bottom Line

Credit cards are an alternative form of borrowing money that customers prefer to personal loans or payday loans. If managed wisely, credit cards have benefits, such as building personal credit and obtaining rewards. Interest rates can be in the upper-teens or above, so if this is a concern, American Express and other credit cards might not be a choice for you. However, American Express is a well run, well established corporation that you can trust to help you manage your finances. If you are disciplined, American Express credit cards are highly recommended.

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