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UPDATE 1-AmEx profit tops estimates on higher user spending, lower expenses

* First-quarter earnings of $1.33/share vs est $1.30

* Revenue up 4 percent to $8.20 billion

* Card member spending rose 7 percent

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April 16 (Reuters) - American Express Co's first-quarter profit beat analysts' average estimate as its credit-card customers spent more in a recovering U.S. economy and the company kept expenses in check.

The world's biggest credit card issuer's net income rose 12 percent to $1.43 billion, or $1.33 per share, for the quarter ended March 31, from $1.28 billion, or $1.15 per share, a year earlier.

Total revenue, net of interest expense, rose 4 percent to $8.20 billion.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of $1.30 per share on revenue of $8.36 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

American Express, which issues its own cards unlike rivals such as Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc, benefits from its largely affluent customers' consistent spending and low default rates.

Spending by the company's card users rose 7 percent, adjusted for foreign currency translations, in the quarter, while consolidated expenses fell by 1 percent to $5.5 billion.

The company's shares closed at $87.40 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Aman Shah in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Simon Jennings)

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