|Amarilys Crespo and Juan Abbiati, of American Express and Gilberto|
Tejera, of Delta Air Lines.
American Express is moving forward with its expansion plans on the island this year. However, its strategy calls for doing it conservatively.
In keeping with that, on Tuesday, the credit card issuer and Delta Air Lines announced the introduction of the co-branded Delta SkyMiles American Express card to the Puerto Rico market, making the island the first jurisdiction outside the U.S. mainland where the product is available.
During a news conference held at a San Juan hotel, officials from both companies shared details of their joint venture, which seeks to increase presence and visibility in a market where tough economic conditions prevail.
“Fifteen years ago, American Express and Delta began their co-branding agreement in the U.S. and now we’ve chosen Puerto Rico to expand,” said Juan J. Abbiati, product director for American Express in Puerto Rico. “We’re not unaware of the market’s economic situation, so we’re going to move forward conservatively, choosing to start with this product.”
The Delta SkyMiles American Express card is making its local debut offering 10,000 miles to cardholders who sign up and make their first purchase. Customers will receive an additional 5,000 miles upon completing their first trip with Delta, as an affiliate of the airline’s Delta SkyMiles program. Furthermore, purchases totaling $10,000 in a calendar year are eligible to receive another 2,500 miles, company officials said.
“Delta has been operating in Puerto Rico for 58 years, making it an important site for the airline, and where we operate more than 40 weekly flights. It’s no coincidence that the island was chosen among every other Latin American country to introduce this product,” said Gilberto Tejera, director for Delta Air Lines in Puerto Rico.
Abbiati noted that the expectation is that at least 30 percent of its existing customer base on the island will apply for the new card, a goal for which it has already begun a marketing effort. On Delta’s side, Tejera refrained from sharing the number of SkyMiles customers it has signed up on the island, but said expectations are high for this co-branding.
“We had a co-branding agreement in place with another credit card operator that lasted five years, but concluded last year,” Tejera said.
On the U.S. mainland, Delta and American Express offer five co-branded cards, whose benefits vary depending on the cardholder’s income level — Optima, Classic, Gold, Platinum and Reserve.
“If there’s good acceptance of this card, the introduction of others is a possibility,” said Abbiati, adding that other unique American Express products, such as the Plum Card for small businesses, could eventually be available to the local credit card market.