Nilson Report

Issue 1190 | Jan 2021


Companies featured in this issue include:

Outstandings on General Purpose Credit Cards in the U.S.

Market Shares of Outstandings on U.S. Credit Cards—2000 through 2020

Investments in Merchant Acquiring and Processing by Region—2020

Investments by Region—Number of Transactions in 2020

Income at Top U.S. Credit Card Issuers—2020 vs. 2019

American Express Cards 2020 vs. 2019

Discover Card 2020 vs. 2019

Investments and Acquisitions—December 2020

American Express Cards 2020 vs. 2019

American Express issues cards directly and in partnership with financial institutions worldwide. Figures for cards issued, transactions generated, and outstanding receivables are listed on page 10.

1. Inside the U.S.
$691.52 billion purchase volume, –16.2%
2. Outside the U.S.
$313.36 billion purchase volume, –21.7%
3. Global total
$1,004.88 billion purchase volume, -18.0%

Full access to the American Express Cards 2020 vs. 2019 results is available when you subscribe to the Nilson Report.



American Express Card Results Worldwide

Consumer and commercial credit (including charge) and prepaid purchase volume tied to cards issued in the United States dropped 16.2% to $691.52 billion in 2020. 

U.S. credit card outstandings fell 17.5% to $101.99 billion. Cards issued in the U.S. dropped 1.6% to 53.8 million at December 31, 2020. American Express cards issued in the U.S. equaled 48.04% of its worldwide total at year-end 2020, up from 47.81% in 2019.

Total volume—the combination of purchase volume and cash advances—on all Amex cards issued in the U.S., declined 16.3% to $693.10 billion in 2020. Covid-19 impacted U.S. travel and entertainment (T&E) total volume, which plunged 55.5% to $93.87 billion and accounted for 13.54% of the U.S. total, down from 25.48% in 2019. 

All other U.S. cards combined generated $599.23 billion in total volume, down 2.9% versus 2019. Total volume on U.S. consumer card products directly issued by American Express dropped 15.3% to $337.60 billion. 

American Express’s U.S. card-issuing partners—Bank of America, BBVA Compass, Citigroup, Credit One, First National Bank of Omaha, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, U.S. Bank, USAA and Wells Fargo—collectively accounted for $18.56 billion in total volume on Amex cards they issued, down 7.6%.

All American Express cards worldwide, including those issued by Global Network Services (GNS) partners outside the U.S., combined generated total volume of $1.011 trillion in 2020, down 18.2% from 2019. T&E volume worldwide totaled $145.29 billion and accounted for 14.38% of the worldwide total. All other card products combined totaled $865.31 billion.

On cards issued directly by American Express worldwide, total volume was $870.70 billion, down 19.0%. On cards issued by Global Network Services (GNS) partners, total volume dropped 17.0% to $139.90 billion. 

Total volume on all cards issued outside the U.S. decreased 22.0% on a local currency basis to $317.50 billion. Total volume on American Express cards issued in its Japan/Asia–Pacific/Australia region dropped 16%. Amex cards issued in Latin America and Canada declined 26%, while total volume on cards issued in Europe, the Middle East and Africa dropped 31%. 

Cards issued to consumers outside the U.S. directly by American Express generated total volume of $121.1 billion, down 21.0%. Total volume on cards issued outside the U.S. to small businesses and corporations directly by Amex decreased 31.0%. 

Prior issues: 1168, 1146, 1124, 1102, 1079, 1056, 1033, 1009

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