As many of the American brands the American Express Co has a rich and long history of success. In fact, it has been in the market for over one hundred and fifty years. The AXP was founded back at 1850 by three companions: Henry Wells, William Fargo and John Butterfield. At first, this company operated the market of express services. It owned over seventy one thousand miles of railroad lines, had over thirty thousand employees on staff with it and opened over ten thousand offices.
However, in 1882, AXP expanded, moved into the money order business and began to compete with the United States postal services. This has finally led the American Express Co into operating the field of finance and insurance, which still remains the main field of expertise for the company to this day. Within a few years the AXP also moved in to the Global market, as in Europe there was no adequate money order service developed, and the AXP's money services and especially travelers' cheques, which were launched by the company in 1891, facing no serious competition, gained a great popularity in many of the European counties.
Nevertheless, on the way to success the American Express Co has also faced some hardships. In 1918 all the express companies stopped to exist due to the problems America had during those times and they all were consolidated into one large company, called the American Railway Express. The AXP had the largest forty percent share in it, though such state of affairs finally made the AXP's owners think about issuing charge cards and broadening the range of their financial services and products.
In 1958, the first American Express Co charge card was issued. It met a tremendous success and was greatly demanded by the AXP 's customers. In fact, even before the official launch date of the charge card, over two hundred and fifty thousand cards were issued. Those first cards where made out of paper with their owners' info imprinted on them. It was not until 1959 that the AXP's first plastic cards were issued.
Later on the AXP management realized the need to diversify their products and to create such products that would meet the needs of different AXP's consumer segments. In 1966, the American Express Co produced their first Gold Card, and in 1984 - Platinum. Those cards were the products, made for reaching the most successful AXP's customer target audiences. In 1987, AXP created its first Optima revolving credit card, and in 1999, it has issued one of the most elite VIP cards - Centurion Card. The annual fee for such 'black card' made up to one thousand dollars. Nonetheless, in the year of 2005 this fee came up to two thousand and ficve hundred. At the same year, the AXP has introduced a new wireless pay method, called ExpressPay, and today many of the restaurants and other partner companies offer this new AXP financial product to their clients.
Those were some insights into the American Express Co history. Presently, the American Express Co has its main headquarter in New York City, and it also operates the Global market of financial services. Its annual revenues make over twenty four billion dollars and they have up to sixty six thousand employees on staff with them.