Credit card

American Express

Established 1850

Founded in 1850 by Henry Wells, William G. Fargo and John Warren Butterfield as an express mail business in Buffalo, the American Express Company is a multinational financial services corporation, best known for its credit cards. In 1852, when Butterfield refused to extend its operations to California, Wells and Fargo also started Wells Fargo & Co. (another big name in the financial business).

The proper inventor of the credit card was Diners Club, who launched a card in 1950 after founder Frank McNamara forgot to bring his wallet to a business diner. These first cards were made of paper, with the account number and cardmember’s name typed. It was American Express who started to issue embossed plastic cards – an industry first. American Express launched its cards as premium products handling an annual fee higher than Diners Club. In 1966, American Express introduced the iconic Gold Card and in 1984 the Platinum Card was offered to customers with significant spending, and excellent payment history. A new status symbol was born.

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© American Express Company, New York, US

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