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AmEx Expands U.S. Card-issuing Partnerships

American Express Co. (AmEx) recently announced two more card-issuing partnerships with U.S. banks. One is with Wilmington, Del.-based Juniper Bank and the other is with San Antonio-based USAA Federal Savings Bank.

Founded in 2000, Juniper Bank is a member of the Barclays Group. AmEx's relationship with Juniper is part of a new program announced on April 18 from banking and financial services group UBS. UBS designed a dual-card program for its clients to provide them with access to charge and credit card and ATM services. Juniper will issue both AmEx- and Visa-branded cards.

Barry Rodrigues, Executive Vice President of AmEx, called the relationship a "powerful addition to the network of bank relationships" that AmEx has been building in the United States and around the world.

On May 31, AmEx said it will issue charge and credit cards for USAA, a financial services company for members of the U.S. military and their families. USAA will offer a full range of AmEx-branded cards to its 5 million-plus members, beginning in the second quarter of 2006.

"We look forward to offering our members ... access to American Express merchants," said Bob Davis, USAA's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

AmEx only began partnering with U.S. banks last year. The growing market opportunities for the AmEx card brand stems from an October 2004 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Visa U.S.A. and MasterCard International in a six-year-old antitrust suit AmEx and Discover Financial Services brought against the card Associations.

AmEx and Discover claimed Visa's and MasterCard's rules, which prevented member banks from issuing other card brands (like AmEx and Discover), violated antitrust laws. Since the Supreme Court ruling, AmEx has entered into four domestic issuing partnerships.

"We are very pleased with the response from banks and financial institutions who partner with American Express," said Keri Buster, AmEx Manager of Public Affairs. She said AmEx continues to seek out new partnerships.

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