American Express says cardholders are buying lots of ‘front of cabin’ plane tickets, as total spending grows 7%

American Express Co. saw an acceleration in new card acquisitions during the latest quarter, and it recorded a profit beat for that period.

“We continue to attract high-spending, high-credit-quality customers to the franchise,” Chief Executive Stephen Squeri said in the company’s earnings release Friday morning.

American Express
meanwhile, saw a 7% boost in card-member spending during the first quarter, on a currency-neutral basis. Spending by consumer card members in the U.S. grew 8% from a year before.

The stock rose 6.2% in Friday trading.

Cardholders are also spending up on pricey airline tickets, according to Chief Financial Officer Christophe Le Caillec. The company is seeing “a lot of strength on the front-of-cabin tickets,” he told MarketWatch.

The trend not only shows that Amex consumers are traveling and “enjoying life,” he said. It also indicates the premium nature of the company’s member base.

That’s one reason the company’s credit metrics are better than those of industry peers, and “the gap between us and competitors keeps increasing,” according to Le Caillec.

American Express matched revenue expectations for its most recent quarter, while beating on profit. The company generated $2.4 billion in net income, up $3.33 a share, up from $1.8 billion, or $2.40, a year earlier. The FactSet consensus had been for $2.95 a share in earnings.

See also: Visa, Mastercard agree to lower credit-card fees in landmark merchant settlement

The company notched $15.8 billion in revenue for the first quarter, in line with the FactSet consensus and up from $14.3 billion a year before. That marked an 11% increase.

The card issuer disclosed $1.3 billion in consolidated provisions for credit losses, compared with $1.1 billion in the year-earlier quarter. The change reflected higher net write-offs, though a net reserve build of $148 million was more than half of what it had been a year before.

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Consolidated expenses ticked up 3% to $11.4 billion, “driven by higher card-member spending, increased usage of travel-related benefits and higher marketing investments,” according to the company’s release.

But American Express noted that consumers are also showing interest in partner-funded rewards, which are things like subscriptions to news sites and exercise options that

The company continues to expect it will grow revenue by 9% to 11% this year while posting earnings per share of $12.65 to $13.15.

It’s set to host an investor day on April 30.

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