Credit Saison, a financial services company in Japan, has agreed to issue an American Express charge card this year.
The Saison American Express Card would target young, affluent consumers who like to travel.
Through a so-called network agreement, the card would be issued by the unit of the Saison Group and would be accepted by merchants in the American Express global network.
American Express Co. has opened its network to other card issuers in the past 18 months to increase volume and cards carrying the American Express logo. Saison is the first network deal for American Express in Asia.
"We felt a partnership with Credit Saison would lend our brand, our global network, and servicing" to Credit Saison's efforts to increase its customer base, said Jim Cracchiolo, president, American Express Global Network Services.
In addition to the financial services unit, Saison Group owns units in retailing, property management, warehouse distribution, restaurant management, and foreign trade. Credit Saison issues more than 15 million proprietary and cobranded cards under the Visa, MasterCard, and JCB brands.
New York-based American Express has made other network deals in Brazil, France, and the United Kingdom. Also, it has reached licensing agreements with banks in Ireland, Central America, Turkey, and Israel to market American Express cards and sign up merchants to accept them.
"In each market we're looking for the right partners," Mr. Cracchiolo said, adding that American Express "won't be initially in every market. Over time you will find partnership arrangements in most markets around the world."
American Express did not release details of the Saison card's pricing, saying only that it would be competitive with other card products in Japan.
Credit card consultant James Accomando noted that American Express is doing what MasterCard and Visa did to build their brands globally.
"They're already doing a good job in Europe," he said. However, the strategy is not to play catch-up in numbers of acceptance locations, he said. "You'll probably never see as many merchants as MasterCard and Visa. But that's not the endgame. It's capturing the dollars put through payment devices, not so much the numbers of locations."