Amex is too snobby for millennials, reports the NYT

Having an American Express card has long signaled that the holder has achieved a certain level of wealth and success. But that, it seems, is no longer so attractive to millennials, who are more interested in acquiring experiences (and the Instagram snaps to prove them) than money. And their card of choice for doing that, apparently, is the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

As one participant in a credit card focus group put it when asked to compare the cards, “An Amex says you’re rich, but this [Chase Sapphire Reserve card] says you’re interesting.”

While we pity anyone who really thinks their credit card makes them interesting, this statement is freaking out Amex executives. As Times reporter Charles Duhigg writes: “Was it possible — and this really gave everyone the sweats — that millennials would never be convinced that income inequality was something they should aspire to?” Quelle horreur!

Amex is trying hard to appear cool– they put Tina Fey in their ads! — but it’s going to be difficult for a company that employs older, stodgier people who aren’t up on the current lingo. The Times shares one story of a bunch of Amex execs trying to figure out what “FOMO” stands for — and taking 10 minutes before someone Googles it.

And the numbers reflect their struggles; the number of Amex cards in use was down 18 percent last year, and their 2016 revenue was down $2 billion from two years ago.

Things might be dire for the credit card company, but at least they can take comfort in knowing that a certain group of millennials do indeed have no higher aspiration in life than to own an Amex Black Card — and is even making fake ones to fool people into thinking they have one. [NYT]