American Express Travel Related Services, the unit of American Express Co. that includes charge cards and travel operations, increased first- quarter earnings by 10%, to $315 million.

Net revenues were up 7% to $3 billion, almost three-fourths of the entire company's $4.2 billion.

The New York-based company said higher card billings and loan balances spurred the growth.

American Express Financial Advisors accounted for $1.1 billion of revenue and American Express Bank $153 million. They were up 8% and 5%, respectively.

American Express Co. net income rose 15%, to $454 million. Per share, it rose 14 cents, to 94 cents.

Travel Related Services said rewards programs and merchant coverage contributed to its revenue boost, which would have been 9% if not for some internal accounting moves and securitizations.

U.S. card member loans on March 31 were $12.9 billion, up 26% from a year earlier. Delinquency rates-2.6% up to 89 days and 1% over 90 days-were flat year to year; the chargeoff rate of 5.1% was down from 5.2% and well in line with bank card averages. The growth in card volume was 17% domestically, to $34.6 billion, and 15% over all, to $47.9 billion.

Cards in force rose 9% domestically, to 29.6 million, and 8% for all countries, to 41.9 million.

Providian Bancorp of San Francisco, the highly profitable card subsidiary being spun out from Providian's insurance operations, increased pretax income 20%, to $61.7 million, as managed loans grew by $2 billion to more than $7 billion. The net credit loss rate jumped 166 basis points, to 6.73%.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.