"I always figured AmEx (AXP) was for more well-off people, but if they are extending their hand to people who are less well off, it's OK by me," says Anthony Rodiguez, who carries AmEx's prepaid card, Bluebird, available only at Wal-Mart stores.
Amid growing competition for its affluent customers from the likes of issuers like JPMorgan, AmEx is gunning the engines on its marketing machine after 18 months of tinkering with Bluebird's features. Along with a summer campaign for discounted gasoline, the company financed a documentary about unbanked consumers which premiered this month.
"I want AmEx to be a more welcoming, inclusive brand," says CEO Ken Chenault. "This is not a trade-off that we are making with our brand ... This enhances our brand."