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Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Credit card issuer American Express Co. reported a higher-than-expected rise in third-quarter profit on Friday, as more people used cards to shop, pay bills and make big ticket purchases.

AmEx cards, for long the preferred choice of affluent Americans, is now battling competition from JPMorgan Chase & Co’s Sapphire Reserve and Citigroup Inc’s Prestige Card.

To counter that, the company has ramped up its reward programs on its cards and struck partnership deals with a number of firms.

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“The trends we saw in the business this quarter continue to be consistent with an economy that continues to grow, albeit at a more modest pace than last year,” Chief Executive Officer Steve Squeri said.

U.S. big banks’ quarterly results showed that American consumers are helping to prop up the economy, even as recession fears have led businesses to pull back on spending and borrowing.

Net income rose to $1.76 billion, or $2.08 per share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30, from $1.65 billion, or $1.88 per share, a year earlier, the company said.

Total revenue, excluding interest expense, rose 8 per cent to $11 billion, helped by higher customer spending, net interest income and card fees.

This helped AmEx clock its 9th straight quarter of foreign exchange adjusted revenue growth of at least 8 per cent, Squeri said.

Analysts had expected a profit of $2.03 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

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