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International payments

Relationships and rates

A safe harbour during the storm


The 1970s was a decade of turmoil for global currency markets, with many of the world's largest countries abandoning fixed currency exchange rates in favour of the floating rates we know today.


Businesses around the world had their first taste of the day-to-day volatility that exists in modern global foreign exchange markets, and learned what it means to be supported by a trusted provider, offering a solid business relationship and transparent exchange rates.


Nixon shock


From 1946 until 1971, the way the world's financial nations exchanged currency was determined by the Bretton Woods agreement of 1944. The value of the US dollar was fixed to the price of gold, and countries signing up to Bretton Woods were required to fix their currencies to the US dollar.

The system put significant pressure on the US economy, where high levels of public debt and domestic inflation were causing the dollar to become considerably overvalued.

In August 1971, US President Richard Nixon, made a unilateral executive decision to temporarily suspend the convertibility of US dollars to gold, thereby effectively floating the currency.


Managing FX volatility and supporting our customers

American Express Supporting Customers during 1971 Money Crisis

Those who weren’t supported by a trusted foreign exchange provider – able to offer a solid relationship and transparent exchange rates – faced a market with wildly varying rates of exchange.


"The banks were charging various rates of exchange and the hotels were asking whatever they could get", American Express Customer, published in New York, New York To support its overseas customers, American Express publicly declared it would offer a fair rate of exchange on U.S. dollars.


"I went to the American Express office on Grafton Street, where I [received]... a fair rate of exchange ", American Express customer in New York.


In this way US businesses were able to avoid much of the damaging uncertainty about the value of their US currency.

"There was a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty regarding the outcome of the currency crisis, but in banking circles American Express had earned the highest respect for refusing to panic and for honouring its obligations" American Express customer in Esher, UK.

Thousands of customers around the world queued for hours outside their local American Express offices to get access to the funds they needed. Many voiced their thanks to the company for supporting them in uncertain times.


"I wanted to share with American Express my delight in having a friend at a time when I really needed one", American Express customer in New York.


Today, American Express FX International Payments provides businesses and corporations with more than just competitive foreign exchange rates. We provide a complete partnership – including expertise from our relationship management team, competitive rates and the option to earn Membership Rewards points on your money transfers.

American Express Foreign Exchange Testimonials 1973

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