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Basis of Presentation
6 Months Ended
Jun. 30, 2011
General Policies [Abstract]  
Basis of Presentation

1. Basis of Presentation

The Company

American Express is a global service company that provides customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. The Company's principal products and services are charge and credit payment card products and travel-related services offered to consumers and businesses around the world. The Company has also recently focused on generating alternative sources of revenue on a global basis in areas such as online and mobile payments and fee-based services. The Company's various products and services are sold globally to diverse customer groups, including consumers, small businesses, mid-sized companies and large corporations. These products and services are sold through various channels, including direct mail, online applications, targeted direct and third-party sales forces and direct response advertising.


The accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements should be read in conjunction with the financial statements incorporated by reference in the Annual Report on Form 10-K of American Express Company (the Company) for the year ended December 31, 2010.


The interim consolidated financial information in this report has not been audited. In the opinion of management, all adjustments necessary for a fair statement of the consolidated financial position and the consolidated results of operations for the interim periods have been made. All adjustments made were of a normal, recurring nature. Results of operations reported for interim periods are not necessarily indicative of results for the entire year.


Beginning the first quarter of 2011, certain payments to business partners previously expensed in other, net expense were reclassified as contra-revenue within total non-interest revenues or as marketing and promotion expense. These partner payments are primarily related to certain co-brand contracts where upfront payments are amortized over the life of the contract. Amounts in prior periods for this item and certain other amounts have been reclassified to conform to the current presentation and are insignificant to the affected line items. In addition, in the first quarter of 2011, the Company reclassified $353 million, reducing both cash and cash due from banks, and other liabilities, on the December 31, 2010 Consolidated Balance Sheet from amounts previously reported to correct for the effect of a misclassification.


Accounting estimates are an integral part of the Consolidated Financial Statements. These estimates are based, in part, on management's assumptions concerning future events. Among the more significant assumptions are those that relate to reserves for cardmember losses relating to loans and charge card receivables, reserves for Membership Rewards costs, fair value measurement, goodwill and income taxes. These accounting estimates reflect the best judgment of management, but actual results could differ.