UPDATE 1-American Express profit beats estimates as card spending rises
* Third-quarter earnings per share $1.25 vs est. $1.22
* Revenue up 6 percent to $8.30 bln
* Cardmember spending growth highest in five quarters
Oct 16 (Reuters) - American Express Co posted a better-than-expected 9 percent rise in quarterly profit as customers increased spending on its credit cards and fewer users defaulted on payments.
A relatively affluent customer base has helped to insulate American Express from tepid consumer spending that has led to an overall decline in credit card usage in the United States.
The company has the lowest delinquency rate among the large credit card issuers, which include JPMorgan Chase, Discover Financial, Capital One, Bank of America and Citigroup.
American Express said spending on its cards increased by 9 percent in the third quarter, after adjusting for foreign currency translations -- the highest rise in five quarters.
Its net-lending write-off rate for the quarter dropped to a low of 1.7 percent, compared with 1.9 percent in the year-earlier period, indicating that more custoemrs were keeping up with card payments.
American Express said its U.S.-billed business rose 8 percent in the third quarter to $158.2 billion.
Net profit rose to $1.37 billion, or $1.25 per share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30, from $1.25 billion, or $1.09 per share, a year earlier.
Total revenue, net of interest expense, rose 6 percent to $8.30 billion.
Analysts on average had expected earnings of $1.22 per share on revenue of $8.18 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Shares of American Express, a Dow Jones industrial average component, were marginally up in extended trading. They closed at $76.32 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.