American Express CEO says U.S. travel, dining spending is nearing full recovery

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Americans are increasingly tapping their credit lines as Covid-19 health restrictions ease and travel demand ramps back up, American Express CEO Steve Squeri told CNBC on Monday.

The payments company, known for its namesake credit card, reports seeing a near-full recovery in domestic travel bookings after the industry was hamstrung by Covid lockdowns.

“When we look at our travel numbers, our travel bookings in May were 95% of what they were in May of 2019,” Squeri said in an interview with Jim Cramer on “Mad Money.”

“We also believe that by the end of the year in the U.S. we will have a full consumer recovery from a travel perspective, and overall by the end of the year I think globally we’ll probably be about 80% of what we were in 2019,” he added.

The Transportation Security Administration screened 2.03 million people at airports on Friday, the first time in 15 months that more than 2 million passengers have passed through checkpoints in a single day.

Still, that’s just 74% of travel volumes on the same day in 2019, according to the agency.

American Express is seeing a rebound in restaurant spending, too, Squeri said, with May dining expenses totaling 85% of May 2019 levels.

“The people that are really spending a lot in restaurants [are] millennials — 130% in April of what they spent back in 2019,” he added. “We believe that that’s going to continue to move forward.”

Delinquencies at American Express are at their lowest levels in years, and personal savings have doubled, Squeri said.

“When you look at the U.S. economy right now, I think it’s really starting to come back,” he said. “Credit numbers are not like anybody thought they were going to be.”

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