Mark Lennihan, File, Associated Press
FILE - This March 19, 2012 file photo shows a sign for American Express in New York. American Express says its net income rose 1 percent in the third quarter as its customers spent more money, boosting revenue for the credit card issuer. But the rate of growth in customer spending was slower than earlier this year, echoing a trend among major card issuers. The New York-based company said Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 that it posted net income of $1.25 billion, or $1.09 per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30.

LOS ANGELES — American Express Co. said Wednesday that its net income rose 1 percent in the third quarter, aided by lower expenses and increased spending by the credit card issuer's customers.

Spending by the company's cardholders rose 8 percent in the U.S. during the July-to-September quarter versus a year earlier. It increased 6 percent globally.

The increased spending helped boost revenue 4 percent. The company also benefited from lower operating costs.

Even so, the rate of growth in spending by the New York company's cardholders actually slowed compared to a few months ago, reflecting a trend among major card issuers this year, CEO Kenneth Chenault said.

The company's provisions for loan losses jumped 92 percent to $479 million from $249 million a year earlier, when write-offs and delinquencies were declining at a faster rate and American Express released a far bigger portion of its reserves set aside to cover bad loans.

Still, American Express said credit quality — an industry term for how well borrowers are keeping up with debt payments — remained at historically strong levels.

Cards with no set spending limit and other high-end perks have helped American Express draw customers that are about a third more affluent than other credit cardholders.

Those affluent shoppers have spent more freely in the years following the recession. They also have been less prone to let their balances go unpaid. The combination has helped drive American Express' earnings.

For its latest quarter, American Express reported net income of $1.25 billion, or $1.09 per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. That compares with net income of $1.24 billion, or $1.03 per share, in the same period last year.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $7.86 billion from $7.57 billion.

Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting earnings of $1.09 per share on revenue of $7.9 billion.

American Express shares ended regular trading up 74 cents at $59.37. The stock fell 37 cents to $59 in aftermarket trading. The stock is up 25 percent over the past year.