PayPal and American Express are teaming up to make the online payments system easier to use with credit cards. The deal comes as credit card spending among U.S. consumers continues to rise. According to a January report from payment technology company CyberSource, the use of credit cards continues to grow, but was still down 1% in the last quarter of 2016 compared to the same period a year earlier.
The deal will allow American Express customers to purchase PayPal accounts and balance transfers using their AmEx credit card. The system uses American Express’s Credit Now program which already offers 5% cashback on purchases made on PayPal and Venmo.
The deal, announced Friday, brings to 400 million PayPal users access to AmEx’s transaction services and more than 90 AmEx-branded cards that are now accepted by PayPal. Some cardholders will be able to use their PayPal account with certain American Express cards: the Platinum card and the AmEx Platinum card, which currently have 5% cashback on most purchases.
PayPal has also won the right to offer its cashback program on the Select program of American Express’s ThankYou Club Rewards loyalty program. Select members have the right to use the company’s cashback on card-based purchases and on purchases made via the American Express app.
American Express and PayPal said that 50 million consumers will be able to use their cards at AmEx’s Terminal Services partners which includes such big name brands as JetBlue, PetSmart, Square, Taco Bell, EBay and Starbucks.
“From our early conversations with AmEx, we were interested in its model because of the potential to re-accelerate the adoption of digital wallets,” said Håkan Dahlström, the chief marketing officer of PayPal. “Now, consumers get the chance to transact using their American Express card at the many TPAs around the world using PayPal.”
The news comes as research shows that digital payments are only slowly catching up to credit card purchases. The percentage of digital payments made by phone, tablet or laptop increased 13% to 57% during the past 12 months. In the fourth quarter of 2016, digital payments totaled $1.6 trillion. Meanwhile, credit card transactions totaled $2.75 trillion in 2016. By 2020, the number of digital payments is expected to total $4.6 trillion.