View full issue

This link was published in:

Status Update

by M.G. Siegler


America Express, Challenged by Chase, Is Losing the Snob War

Charles Duhigg:

The Chase Sapphire Reserve — which in the seven months since it was released has signed up more than a million cardholders, half of whom are under 35 — is all about emphasizing what cardholders can do, rather than what they can buy.

The craziest stat to me there is the "half of whom are under 35". Anecdotally, I'm seeing this card everywhere these days. Including in my wallet. (Though I'm exactly 35.)

The other challenge is that many people who work at American Express aren’t all that millennially minded themselves. If you visit Amex’s headquarters in Lower Manhattan, you’ll find squared-jawed men in bespoke suits and fashion model-glamorous women, but not a lot of young people in the uppermost ranks. The company’s chief executive, Kenneth I. Chenault, has led Amex for almost 16 years, an eternity in corporate America. In one Amex brainstorming session, according to an executive I spoke with, participants spent 10 minutes trying to figure out what FOMO meant before turning to Google.
They discovered it stands for “fear of missing out.” It is unclear if the group recognized the irony.

This sounds so ridiculous that it can't possibly be true. And yet... I've had an American Express card for over 15 years. I like it just fine. But even in 2017, there are places -- in America -- that refused to accept it, because of their higher fee. So it's entirely unsurprising that when a competitor (a Visa card, no less) comes along with better perks, people go wild. 


Want to receive more content like this in your inbox?