either a fingerprint or photographs of themselves, depending on a phone’s capability. The offering was meant for
risky transactions or transactions that fall outside a user’s typical spending pattern.
AirPlus began a three-month internal pilot for the card on Sept. 14. Danz said the first tests have been successful. After
the pilot is complete and the card networks set rules for biometrics authorization, “there’s no technological obstacle to
prohibit us from distributing [the cards] in countries where we already issue corporate cards,” he said. He declined to
estimate how long it could take the networks to set the rules but hopes it will not be as long as for mobile payments.
Pricing and distribution will depend on demand, as the cards would be more expensive to produce. He anticipates
demand will be lower in markets like China. There, mobile payments are “quite advanced” thanks to payment company
Alipay and to apps like WeChat, which facilitates mobile payments in-app and through QR codes. “When everyone is
paying via QR code through mobile, is there a space for such biometrics technology on a plastic card? Probably not,”
Danz said. “Perhaps we are behind in the U.S. and Europe, but let’s be honest: There will be cards out there for the
next 10 years for sure. “We’re at a point where we can say, ‘There is a further option and it’s quite convenient, so let’s
see where it goes.’”
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review
an antitrust case against American Express,
following a petition by 11 state attorneys
general, according to the U.S. Supreme Court
website. The court will hear arguments in early
2018 and rule by June, according to Bloom-
berg. The case challenges Amex’s rules that
bar Amex-accepting merchants from steering
customers to forms of payment that cost mer-
“The earlier decision by the Second Circuit
panel protects a consumer’s right to choose
how they pay, prevents our card members
from being discriminated against and promotes competition in the payments industry,”
an Amex spokesperson said. “We believe the
government’s claims lack merit, and we will
continue to vigorously defend the Second Circuit’s decision in favor of American Express.”
In the June 2 petition, led by Ohio Attorney
General Mike De Wine, the states claimed the
case has national implications and that Amex’s
rules restrain trade for cardholders and merchants. The states also maintained the Second
Circuit was incorrect when it said the cost of
anti-steering rules is offset by the benefit to
cardholders through rewards and services.
The states hope the Supreme Court will require
Amex to prove that cardholder benefits offset
merchant costs, as it has done in similar cases.
That differs from the lower court’s burden of
proof, which instead required the plaintiff, the
U.S. Department of Justice, to prove that cardholder benefits do not offset merchant costs.
“The issues in this appeal involve anti-competitive practices that hinder Ohio consumers and
Ohio retailers and merchants,” De Wine said.
The U.S. appeals court ruled in favor of
Amex in September 2016 and in January refused the DOJ’s request to reconsider. While
the DOJ decided not to take the case to the
Supreme Court, the states took it upon themselves in June to petition the U.S. Supreme
Court to review the case.
Beginning in January, American Express and Hilton will offer four co-
Case Heads to
U.S. Supreme Court
branded cards to consumers and small businesses. The offering follows
the companies’ June announcement that Amex would become the ex-
clusive card issuer for the hotel chain’s U.S. co-branded credit cards.
Hilton has offered Amex co-branded cards since 1995 and Citi co-branded cards since 2000. Hilton will replace the Citi Hilton Honors
card with the existing Hilton Honors American Express card, one of
four cards on offer. All four will offer the benefit of no foreign transaction fees.
Hilton Honors Amex card benefits remain roughly the same. The existing Hilton Honors Surpass Card, which has a $75 annual fee, will be
called the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend card and will increase
to $95 a year. Additional card benefits for the Ascend card include 10
Amex lounge passes a year and one weekend stay at a Hilton property
after spending $15,000 within one calendar year. It is unclear whether the
basic Honors card or the Ascend card will continue to offer the considerable bonus-point package that kicks in after cardholders reach pre-defined
spending thresholds in the first three months of joining the card program.
Amex said it will provide more details on sign-up bonuses in January.
In addition to the revised card products, Hilton will offer two new cards:
the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card for $450 a year and the
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card for an annual fee of $95.
Issued to the small business segment based on credit qualifications
and intended for business travel and related expenses, the Hilton Honors
American Express Business Card offers 12 times the points for purchases
made within Hilton’s property portfolio and six times the points for U.S.-based spend on restaurants, gas, wireless phone services and shipping.
Car rentals booked directly from select providers and flights booked
directly from airlines or amextravel.com also qualify for six times the
points. Cardholders receive complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status
and are upgraded to Diamond status through the next calendar year once
they spend $40,000 on eligible purchases within one calendar year. Cardholders also receive a weekend stay at Hilton after spending $15,000 in
a calendar year and another after spending an additional $45,000 in the
same calendar year. The card comes with 10 Amex lounge passes.
The Aspire card, which is a consumer card, offers increased benefits,
like 14 times the points for Hilton portfolio purchases and seven times
the points for U.S. spend on restaurants, gas, mobile phone services,
car rentals and airline tickets. Cardholders have unlimited Amex lounge
access and several opportunities for free stays at Hilton properties, with
and without spend thresholds, and enhanced on-property credits. Aspire cardholders also can access 24/7 Amex concierge services.
Will Offer Four
“The issues in this appeal involve anti-competitive
practices that hinder Ohio consumers and Ohio
retailers and merchants”
—OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL MIKE DEWINE
“The earlier decision ... protects a consumer’s
right to choose how they pay, prevents our card
members from being discriminated against and
promotes competition in the payments industry.”
—AMERICAN EXPRESS SPOKESPERSON