An interesting little tidbit of information that many of you still may not be aware of is the fact that Visa and MasterCard used to prohibit their bank members from having a credit card through Discover and American Express. This is one of the reasons why you only saw a few banks bearing the American Express name while the majority was with Visa or MasterCard. But, in 2004, American Express brought an antitrust suit against Visa and MasterCard. As a result of the lawsuit, this membership bylaw was rescinded, opening the door for banks such as Bank of America and others like it to issue American Express credit card products and services.
Since the changing of the bylaw, we slowly started to see banks that were once only associated with Visa and MasterCard join the American Express family. MBNA was the first major bank to do so, which it did in 2005. MBNA was later acquired by Bank of America in a deal that became official on the first of this year (at the eye-popping selling price of $35 billion!).
Now, Bank of America has been experimenting a bit more by teaming up with American Express. Not that the company wants to get away from Visa and MasterCard. After all, there are many perks for the bank to stay with these companies, namely the fact that they provide such a wide consumer base. By pairing up with American Express, however, Bank of America can expand this customer base even further.
Bank of America can also diversify its customer base, particularly when it comes to premier bank and private banking customers that prefer the prestige associated with the American Express card. Additionally, there are a number of perks associated with American Express that draw consumers to the name. By teaming up with American Express, Bank of America and other card issuers like it hope to tap into this consumer base as well. Who can blame them?