American Express playing games with its credit cards

By , CardRatings contributor
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Pulling new customers into the fold can be a challenge for any business. Attracting young adults with disposable income to spend may be even more difficult, especially for older brands with stodgy reputations. But American Express thinks it has found a way to do both.

The company recently announced a partnership with Riot Games, maker of the online game League of Legends. That agreement may make Serve, an American Express prepaid card, the first choice for gamers.

League of Legends teams up with another legend

Under the new agreement, League of Legends' more than 32 million active monthly users will have access to new perks when they use a Serve card.

At the center of the partnership is the ability for gamers to earn additional Riot Points (RP), a virtual currency that allows users to purchase in-game items. Serve customers can earn bonus points for the following actions:

  • 1,000 RP for a completed card registration
  • 1,000 RP for the first $20 loaded onto the card
  • 1,000 RP for the first 10 purchases made with the card
  • 10,000 RP for the first direct deposit of $20 or more made to the card

League of Legends users can receive a customized card featuring their choice from four Champions from the game. Money can also be transferred, fee-free, to other gamers.

Working to attract new customers

Teaming up with League of Legends appears to be one more way in which American Express is working to attract new customers from a variety of demographics.

The company has a reputation as a storied financial institution which is arguably both a blessing and a curse. While stability and longevity may be valued by older, affluent consumers, other individuals may be put off by what they perceive to be an old-fashioned image. In addition, the number of young adults carrying credit cards has been declining, according to FICO reports, which means companies may need to promote other products to appeal to Millennials.

In response to these challenges, American Express appears to be placing new emphasis on its prepaid card business. Promoting the Serve card to League of Legends gamers seems to be just the latest development in this strategy.

Last year, the company launched the Bluebird card in collaboration with Walmart. Available across the nation, the cards offer FDIC insurance and direct deposit. Those options could make the cards attractive to those, who for whatever reason, have chosen to go without a traditional checking account. The Bluebird may also appeal to those who normally would not be interested in one of the company's credit cards.

While credit cards continue to be the backbone of American Express's business, the expansion of its prepaid cards shows even an old company can move with the times and reinvent itself to meet changing consumer needs.


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