AmEx’s Expense Tool Redesign – Their Employees Leave The Card at Home

At least, I conclude that American Express' expense reporting tool's developers don't use the card themselves. Maybe it isn't popular in India, or wherever the new AmEx site was coded. It certainly could not have been built by an experienced card user here in the US. In fact, the redesign of the AmEx tool is so bad that it has to be labeled as beta - not "client ready," to use financial industry terms.

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So what are the problems? They cut to the core of why I use AmEx and not Visa for both personal and (especially) business expenses ­– the spend reporting and analytics has taken a turn for the worse. I discovered this when I used the tool to see what the family's medical-related expenses had been in 2014 in order to adjust our MSA (Medical Savings Account) allocation for 2015. That's when I realized the new AmEx site just doesn't work.


In AmEx you can (or I should say could) easily set up and manage "tags" that apply either individually or automatically to expenses. For example, I tag all healthcare-related expenses as "medical" to filter this out for MSA purposes. Similarly, phone and IT expenses get their tag, auto-related repairs another tag, and so on. It helps me stay on top of where the money goes. Similarly, with business expenses are simply tagged "Spend Matters" and then exported via an Excel file for entry into our T&E tool. The tags used to be seen immediately at the top level as you logged in and looked at each time period's report. Now? They are no longer there. The new UI has buried them one layer away and now requires a click on each and every line item to see if a tag has been applied or not – effectively increasing the total click count by a 50X or so. Clicking on every single expense to see how it is tagged is not an improvement.

Spend Categories

What AmEx has done here is a showcase example of misguided "millennialization" – the new UI features a huge piece chart with spend categories as defined by AmEx. For just about all users with a mixed-use card (both personal and business), these are arbitrary and useless. The commingled spend data displayed by default serves no discernible purpose. Breaking it apart (using tags for example to separate personal and business) is now quite difficult ­– not only has the click count increased when you try to work your way to the tags, the UI reverts to AmEx's own spend categories given half a chance as you slice and dice the data. Clearly this is a beta product at best.

No praise?

Well, there are some improvements – the "idea" behind the new graph is good, and it looks pretty, even if it is useless. Better would be to let users configure the dashboard to their needs – should sound familiar to anyone using a source-to-pay tool, we all want our own reports and layouts. What makes sense to one person can be useless to another.

The new UI appears to be of the responsive design school, which is good. Note that I haven't tested that it is. The UI looks like a step in the right design direction, even if it is miserably executed.


Cutting out core differentiating features is inexcusable. This would be as if D&B (which has recently released a superbly done SIM tool) were to decided to bury all its financial data several layers down in the UI, or remove the ability to overlay its risk content with the specific supplier you are looking at - it would make no sense. That's how bad the new AmEx site is.

T&E managers should provide feedback to AmEx about their thoughts on the redesign - if similar changes had been implemented by someone like Concur in its T&E reporting tool, I am sure the user base would be quite upset. AmEx needs to get the message, too, that this is not an acceptable redesign.

A tip to AmEx - make sure at least 1 person on your development team is a hardcore card user. There's really no excuse for this kind of use-case disconnect.

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Voices (4)

  1. John Park:

    We can use both America or any card users in many area

  2. George:

    I am sure my team has a Canada express card user.

  3. Daniel:

    Luckily my team has a American express card user. lol

  4. Thomas Kase:

    For those interested, here’s an AmEx link where you can offer your feedback:

    They are clearly fishing for praise, but I sent the head of their support team this message:


    Actually, the new UI/UX is much slower, more complicated, and a lot less relevant – compared to the old design.

    Sure, the new design is visually more appealing – initially – until you start to using it, that is. These are glaring issues:

    * Tags are broken – no autosave on select any longer (the “add” label is incorrect, should say “save” – but autosave is better)

    * Tags are buried – previously visible at a glance, now every line item must be expanded to see what is tagged and what isn’t

    * Filters reset to displaying AmEx arbitrary categories when switching users, time periods etc – not helpful

    * The new, monstrously large, pie chart isn’t helpful – who cares about AmEx spend categories? What is useful is how the content has been tagged, and this process has gotten far more complicated. Let us turn off this pie chart with a setting.

    Keep working on it, what you have now is broken.


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