Amex corporate cards show continued spend recovery in Q4

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Spending on American Express corporate cards continued to slowly recover during the fourth quarter of 2020, the commercial payments giant revealed on Tuesday. Amex's Global Commercial Services division reported $109.1 billion in Q4 billed business, up from $98.5 billion in the previous quarter and continuing a bounce-back from the Covid-19-ravaged Q2, which saw just $82.8 billion in GCS billed business.

Overall, Amex corporate card spending remained hobbled by the ongoing pandemic in Q4, coming in 18% lower than the final quarter of 2019 -- but that figure too was an improvement over Q3's 23% year-over-year drop-off. Average cardholder spending also showed sustained recovery from Q2 lows, increasing to $7,515 from $6,776 in the prior quarter. Yearly comparisons also showed positive signs; average spend in Q4 2020 was down just 16% from a year earlier, compared to Q3's 21% year-over-year decline.  

T&E spending on all Amex cards -- while still down significantly from pre-pandemic levels--also showed steady improvement. Global T&E spend was down 65% year-over-year during the most recent quarter, compared to 69% in Q3 2020 and 87% drop in Q2. Airline-related spending in Q4 continued to comprise 1% of total spending volume on Amex cards -- holding steady the previous quarter's uptick from Q2, during which airline spending bottomed out at statistically 0% of Amex's overall volume. 

Amex's GCS division reported fourth-quarter net income of $538 million, down only slightly from $550 million a year ago. Q4's lower cardholder spending was partially offset by a 13% year-over-year decline in expenses largely due to lower incentive and customer engagement costs amid the decreased spending activity, the company said.

Source: Business Travel News

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