NEW YORK — American Express Co.’s net income last year rose 14% from a year earlier, to $2.81 billion.

The company said its earnings were buoyed largely by higher spending on its payment cards and strong growth in average cardmember loans.

Diluted per-share earnings rose 14%, to $2.07. Net revenues climbed 13%, to $22.1 billion. The company said its return on equity was 25.3%.

Amex’s fourth-quarter net income grew 12%, to $677 million. Diluted per-share earnings for the quarter jumped 14%, to 50 cents.

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