American Express Co. is speedily penetrating the French credit card market.

In the past five weeks, the New York-based card giant has secured three partnerships with French companies that it said will significantly increase the number of American Express cardholders in France.

"We expect these partnership agreements to substantially increase the number of American Express cards and the amount of volume on our network," said Elizabeth Coleman, a company spokeswoman.

The Nilson Report, Oxnard, Calif., said it expects American Express' customer base in France to grow by at least 50% above its current 489,000 from the recent deals. Also, Nilson said the country accounts for 11% of the 4.5 million American Express cards in Europe.

The latest deal, with the automobile company Peugeot, was announced this week and could bring about 60,000 new card customers into American Express' fold.

The car maker, which has offered a private-label card called La Carte Peugeot for the past year, agreed to add the American Express mark to its card, allowing its customers to use La Carte Peugeot at merchants who accept American Express. Sovac, a French consumer finance company, is issuing the card.

Previously, La Carte Peugeot could only be used to pay for gasoline, car maintenance, or Peugeot-related products.

Peugeot and Sovac will market the card through the Peugeot dealer network. American Express is advising Peugeot on how to communicate the benefits of the American Express merchant network.

La Carte Peugeot cardholders will earn points that can be redeemed to buy a new car.

Last month, American Express announced a similar partnership with the French automaker Citroen and a cobranded card with the French hotel group Accor.

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