How American Express Celebrates A 20th Cardmember Anniversary

My oldest credit card account is my Marriott American Express. It was opened as a Starwood Amex 20 years ago. Account longevity is one of the key attributes of American Express. Cards print your ‘member since’ date on the front. American Express Centurion lounges even use member since as their internet password (the original password was ‘member of’).

I’ve always thought that American Express could make more of the long-term relationship aspect of cardmembership. They have customers who date to their first class of (paper) charge cards in 1958. To any executives reading, consider a big campaign around original members in 2023, who will have been with the company for 65 years. Offer them incredible surprise and delights, have them tell their stories, along with how they’ve used their American Express cards along the way and how American Express has supported them.

This week I received an email from American Express celebrating my 20 years of cardmembership.

Thank you!

Gary, through life’s twists and turns, and every swipe, dip, and tap, we’ve loved being by your side for the last 20 years. We look forward to providing you with outstanding service for years to come.

The email then promotes the card’s benefits. It seemed perfunctory. Doesn’t 20 years deserve more than an email promoting the value of the card?

For a 20th anniversary a free night might have been nice, even capped at 35,000 points in value. I mean, “we’ve deposited 1000 points into your account” would have been a gesture.

But then it struck me: why do I expect something from American Express for a 20 year anniversary as a customer? After all, relationships are reciprocal. Why doesn’t American Express deserve something from me for our 20th anniversary?

And the reason is simple: they’re the ones sending the anniversary message, it makes sense for that message to carry as much weight as possible. American Express has a huge opportunity with long-term relationships. I hear from cardmemebrs all the time who tell me how long they’ve been customers but more than that American Express promotes – and people internalize – cardmembership. Anniversaries are meaningful.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I’d take perfunctory. I have been a card member for 38 years. No acknowledgement even in the 00s when I put everything on their cards.

  2. I would rather Amex work towards making me feel special every time I use their card then just on anniversaries. Why do we expect gifts from Amex, but not from Chase, Citi, Discover, etc? Perhaps because they send out (seemingly) random gifts to customers? Its an odd expectation.

    Also, lets be real – most people reading travel blogs are not Amex’s top spenders. I would venture to guess that the top 20% of their customers bring in 80% of their revenue. Perhaps the top 20% get gifts and if you are spending millions a year on Amex that makes sense. Providing them is expensive, and to provide them to every customer for every milestone would put a big dent in earnings.

  3. Agreed that’s a squandered opportunity. I’ve only been with them since 2017 but it’s good to know it’s an empty road ahead. Hopefully Amex reads your post.

  4. If the airlines stopped caring, why should AMEX?? I’m a member of Hilton and Starwood hotel chains since 1989. I didn’t expect a thank you. Why should you Gary?

  5. You may be surprised at 50 years. I know it’s a long time. Member since 1968, but I received a lovely gift.

  6. dhammer53 – he explained it already. They have a brand of “member since” – and anniversary mileposts are good ways to celebrate that aspect.

  7. Four or so years ago I hit the 50 year mark with my Amex Platinum. I called and said after 50 years seemed that they could do something for me. Initial offer was for 10,000 miles. I said did not want to sound bad but that was actually insulting. The agent then said let me transfer you. After the transfer the offer was 50,000. Thought that was all I would get so said thank you. Appreciate the offer. That was at the time there was a deal that if you transferred amex points to BA you hot 35% or 50% more. That was my main objective for the points as I had a use for the BA points. A year later I cancelled the amex as my Chase cards are a better deal for me. That was back when amex did not offer what they do today for travel and air.

  8. Just celebrated my 50th year with Amex, since 1970 and have NEVER received anything to recognize any anniversary. To me 50 is pretty special but, so far not even a simple message of thanks.

  9. Lucky you!

    I’ve been a member since 1981, All I got were points for my spending. However, those free around-the-world airline tickets I accept with gratitude.

  10. A relationship is a two-way street. My father who is in his 80’s has a couple of credit cards that he has had since the early 1970’s so 50’ish years. I recently had a low-end credit card cancelled by a semi-large bank because I didn’t use it enough although I’d had the card since the late 1980s and had never been late or had any issues with. I had even carried a decent balance years ago so they made plenty of money. I called to have them reconsider and they said they would call me back with a decision. They failed to even give me a dear john call or letter so guess who I will never do business with again.
    I do think loyalty is important but as a corporation that makes money from your relationship they should do a bit more, I’d think. A nice personal card in the mail would be enough.

  11. After 51 years, I dropped my AmEx Platinum card. No retention interest in their part. And not even a recognition email at 50 years. (I needed my Dad’s financial backing/co-signing when I applied for my first Green Card in High School.) I’m sticking with my ‘By Invitation Only’ JP Morgan Reserve card. As a comparison, and with the exception of the Centurian Lounges that penalize arriving passengers who are needing a quick, quiet break, the decision was a no-brainer.

  12. I’ve been an Amex member since 1972 . Last month I received a $100 gift card toward a purchase at Rastellis . a online meat and seafood store

  13. I am pleased and very thankful for the assistance that Americans Express provided in securing the money that I paid to merchants that cancelled services due to covid-19. I’m certain that because I have been a card holder for nearly 30 years they went beyond what most companies would have done to help me which included a monetary gift.

  14. Sorry to hear about your experience. I got my Amex green card in 1967 right after I got back from Vietnam. On my 50th anniversary, they sent me two Tiffany champagne glasses.

    Beats me why you expect them to do something for you. Gimme, gimme.

  15. I have been a satisfied American Express cardholder for 52 years. A couple of months after my 50th anniversay i received a very nice letter thanking me for my loyalty. I appreciated the acknowledgment but thought a small token of their appreciation would have been nice. A couple of months later i got a package from American Express. It was a pair of Tiffany crystal champagne flutes! Now THAT was AmEx style! Thank you American Express

  16. Platinum member here since 1987 and have been using it on almost all expenses and charges except for those that can’t be charged with the card. Been very happy with the service, no complaints here. And would be nice to get perks here and there.

  17. Amex is the utmost negligent of Credit Cards. Being Cent in HK and Play in Portugal, all of a sudden they send me an email, declaring that due to European Union laws, they had to end opperations in Portugal. What a BS !!! I hold Current Accounts in Germany, France nas Austria, and there was no talking whatsoever about these ” new rules “. What a misstrust of a banking company, is it not ?

  18. Member since 1996. Only use it to charge my Netflix fee so my credit score shows I have had a long term card for 26 years. Other wise I use cards that give me better points for my needs

  19. 20 years is nothing in business. 25 years plus is where things get noticed. I think companies may begin to appreciate their better customers in about a year or so. With Covid-19 raging, the next year is going to clear out most of the fluff customers. It will take companies that time to notice and realize which customers are worthy of special attention.

  20. People always expect a hand out, how about you thanking them for making your life easier. Although your old you act like a millennial.

  21. .My husband recently received two Tiffany champagne flutes as a thank you for his years of being a cardholder. I’m still waiting for my gift!

  22. I’m at 40 years on the Gold card PLUS a couple other card products. Hope I can make the 50 to see if any recognition materializes such as the champagne glasses as a couple of the posts from others above have indicated. Really??? are they Riedels?
    Quite frankly, Amex has NEVER rewarded for loyalty. Years ago when I worked for them, the concept fell on deaf ears. The arrogance from the Jim Robinson III years continues.
    Yet – look at the the MR amounts offered to woo new cardmembers for whom loyalty is an unknown concept. Banks have upped their customer service and overall value proposition significantly — AMEX beware! Should I renew annual membership or hope for a comp year??

  23. My card says 80. Didn’t think I needed a credit card in 79. Found myself in Paris with 5 Egyptian pounds. Good thing Flying Tigers gave me a ride home in a DC8;) I think I’ll keep my AMEX card thank you.

  24. I “whined” about this last year on my 50th. After I dismissed an offer of a modest statement credit, I received a a call from a senior manager about this topic. Subsequently, I received a note from the CEO and a pair of Tiffany champagne flutes.

    Fine with me.

  25. Member since ‘77. My dad was a member since the start but let his go over annual fees. Ames has taken care of every disputed charge, handles fraud issues the best and mostly let’s you talk to an actual person if need be. Gold card for me.

  26. Whoooo! What is it with all this loyalty stuff?? In today’s world loyalty is for suckers! The only loyalty that pays is loyalty TO YOURSELF & YOUR FAMILY!! Get all you can whilst you can. If there’s a better offer that suits you then go for that. Don’t ever think in terms of permanence. Loyalty is a 2 way street.lf they come up with a better deal later that suits you they won’t refuse to accept you again. This mantra applies to all Financial products. Make time regularly to review what your getting V what you could get. They won’t think twice about ditching you !

  27. Been with Amex for over 30 years. Nothing for hitting the OO.

    But I did get a call, to see how was I doing during this time and was given a 200 courtesy credit.

  28. I’ve been with them for over 30 years. If they provide consistent service, I don’t expect anything in return because they have been doing what I expected and that is enough for me.

    My bank doesn’t give me anything and I’ve been with them longer than American Express.

  29. Janice I Asuquo
    Been an loyal member close to 30 years.
    Would love a pair of flute, please .
    Thank you very much!
    Jan
    713-302-6297
    15344 Falmouth Ave
    Houston, Texas
    77084

  30. I guess I’ll never get the flutes as I enrolled in AX way too old. Even though I’ll be 30 years next year with my Plat, by the time I get to 50 I’ll be dead and under six feet.
    I will say that I have always received excellent service, and have no complaints whatsoever from them. To me, that is as valuable as whatever tangible gift I could possible receive from AX.
    In this day and age, talking to a live person is worth more than gold!

  31. Got the Delta Amex 20 years ago. Carried it for 3 years before switching to the Starwood Amex.

    The day Marriott ruined the SPG Amex is the day I switched to Chase and haven’t looked back. I’m already Titanium for life with Marriott from my SPG stays. Chase Sapphire Reserve paired with the Freedom Unlimited has been a dynamic duo!

  32. 31 years. It feels like yesterday when my first Gold Card was in my happy young hands back in 1989. I felt on top of the world. We’ve had a rocky (at times) relationship; however, in the end, I love this card. Do they owe me anything? I don’t know. Maybe the Centurians receive special gifts. I don’t fly anymore, so Platnium was a waste of money. I live in Japan now, so the Gold was a waste of money. I decided to keep the Green Card to keep adding to my Membershp Rewards.

    No, they don’t owe me anything… but then again, a simple gift, like a pen or office desk nick-nack would be fun. The “Black Card” gave out pens with my name on it, a stylus, red and black ink, and a pencil from Cross pen company for my 1 year membership.

    I wonder what I would have received after 31 years with them??

  33. My father cosigned my first green card in the 80s. I opened my company in 95 & they upgraded me voluntarily to platinum w/o asking.
    I have had several wonderful AmEx experiences and have several cards and enjoy speaking to an educated customer service agent in the US.
    Few suggestions:
    – a points credit for each yr we dont use airline credits.
    – better travel insurance that includes a travel agent in an emergency.
    -a thank you/acknowledgment letter every 5 yrs…and a discount coupon and list of retailers who will accept it.
    -@25 years A MEMBERSHIP CREDIT OF $100 or 10000 points
    -@50 yrs $200 or 25000 points
    – automatically enrollment the limited time discount incentives & THEN TXT, EMAIL & MAIL a notification that again, you Amex is taking care of me.
    – INDEX ARTICLES IN DEPARTURE MAGAZINE making them available to your concierge services to email upon request if we r traveling somewhere.
    -Suggest u offer a scholarship or paid internship to students studying LIBRARY SCIENCE, HISTORY, etc to have them help index and put Departure Magazine online for Amex members to access. I have no room to save the wonderfully informative magazines anymore. Info on restaurants, shopping & sights are helpful to plan a trip & reference while at a destination.
    – AMEX, PLS CAN PLATINUM CONCIERGE SEVICES..TXT RESTAURANT INFO upon request (not just email) & reservation confirmations Email service is spotty in US!!!
    Thanking u in advance for your kind consideration of these suggestions.

  34. I happened upon this threat accidentally; but glad. Today to my surprise, a UPS delivery brought me two Tiffany champagne flutes; real crystal made in Italy (not the knockoff Japanese ones Tiffany also sells). Yes for 50 years; along with a very nice personalized note. I rolled thru Amex, Centurion, Delta Platinum and last year upgraded to Delta Reserve. Since I already am Delta Lifetime SkyClub as a very old regular customer, with good status, I don’t see why I need Reserve. Now I’ll feel guilt when I downgrade back to Platinum; which at least is my plan for next week after the (sort of outrageous for me) $550 annual renewal. But I remain loyal to Amex and Delta; both have taken good care of me over the years.

  35. I traveled extensively internationally for over 45 using my AX card exclusively. I will reach my 50 year milestone this year (2021). AX bailed me out of many dire situations, my most memorable in Atlanta airport before the first class lounges were opened. I arrived at 2 AM, dead tired from a long Intl flt and too many drinks and fell asleep in the deserted wait area. I woke up to find my carry on bag which had my tickets and wallet had been stolen. I went to the airline desk where they contacted me with AX. After proving my identity, the AX agent asked for the airline agent and proceeded to have me a new ticket issued as well as $100 cash for incidentals. My replacement card arrived at my home 2 days later. I don’t need a present for 50 years, just the great serviceable assistance I’ve always received.

  36. I’m sorry; but I’m now at 47 years; having obtained my first Amex card at the age of 20. Since then, throughout my life; with business travel, then my wife and I spending 40 years circling the globe going virtually everywhere other than parts of the Middle East; American Express has been there for anything we needed. They have obtained hotel reservations when none where available. Their service is incomparable. And when we had an occasional emergency when traveling; or needed help with a merchant who didn’t quite measure up; they always seemed to resolve whatever the issue was with incredible professionalism. They are one of the few companies who I feel actually delivers what they promise. I should probably be sending them a thank you note. (PS – when my son was 20; his American Express card was the first credit card he obtained; I told him they would treat him correctly.

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