American Express, Delta continue partnership

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American Express Co. has extended its long-running SkyMiles partnership with Delta Airlines Inc. in a move calculated to increase the value of its credit cards and Membership Rewards program.

The partnership will broaden American Express cardholders' options for booking travel, earning points and redeeming them — important factors in maintaining loyalty. Delta's recent Northwest merger also opens up more opportunities for American Express to woo Midwestern fliers to the SkyMiles club. The card company plans to increase the number of Midwest locations where American Express can be used and has other marketing plans in place to sell NorthWest WorldPerks loyalty members on the co-branded Delta cards.

“One of the key reasons we are extending the partnership now is because Delta merged with Northwest, which makes them the largest airline in the world with the largest loyalty program in the world,” said Pam Codispoti, SVP and GM of consumer co-brand partnerships for American Express. “We thought it was a great opportunity to expand the partnership and grow our co-brand business, our membership rewards program and our presence in the Midwest with more cards and more places to use cards. 

“American Express targets high-spending, travel-oriented customers, and this gave us the opportunity to build more cutting-edge and richer rewards,” she added. “We want to have the most premium differentiated products, and a partnership with the world's largest airline gives us an edge.”

Delta benefits as well: The Wall Street Journal reports that the deal provides Delta with $1 billion in liquidity — a welcome boost as airlines navigate difficult economic waters.

Northwest's WorldPerks program currently maintains a co-brand card partnership with US Bank-issued credit cards. Points earned on those cards will be transferred when WorldPerks and SkyMiles become fully integrated in 2009.

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