JPMorgan Chase launches Sapphire cards to reach wealthy customers

image JPMorgan Chase & Co. is making steps to enter the market for affluent card holders that is currently dominated by American Express Co., with Chase Sapphire targeted at households with incomes exceeding $120,000. Chase is now seeking customers beyond its 152 million cards issued in North America.

The Sapphire cards are to be available as a Visa Inc. or a MasterCard Inc., an advantage for JPMorgan because those cards are accepted in more places than American Express cards are. Visa cards were accepted at 8 million US locations compared to 7.9 million for MasterCard and 4.6 million of American Express, according to the Nilson Report.

“Our desire is to make sure we have exactly the right product in the hands of our customers,” Gordon Smith, chief executive officer of the card division, said in an Aug. 17 interview. “If we cannibalize ourselves and move customers from one product to another, but we capture more of their business, then we’re absolutely fine with that.”

“The card business is a mirror image of the economy and it’s been an extremely difficult time,” said Smith, who was president of AmEx’s global commercial card business before joining JPMorgan. “Cards are an important part of how we live our lives and I think we’ll see a strong future once we’re out of the difficult economy.”

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