NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- American Express' ( AXP) third-quarter profit dropped 21% compared to the year-earlier period, but the credit card company did show an improvement in the amount of bad loans it had to write off. The company said net income for the three months ending Sept. 30 fell 21% to $640 million vs. $815 million in the year-earlier quarter. Net income attributable to common shareholders was 53 cents a share in the quarter vs. 70 cents a share in the year earlier period. Total revenue, net of interest expense, fell 16% year-over-year to $6.02 billion. American Express said its net income attributable to common shareholders excludes the impact of accelerated preferred dividend accretion of $212 million for the nine months ended Sept. 30 related to the company's previous repurchase of $3.39 billion of TARP preferred shares. It also excludes the impact of preferred shares dividends and related accretion of $94 million for the nine months ended Sept. 30 , among other things. The latest results also included a $180 million ($113 million after-tax) non-recurring benefit associated with the company's accounting for a net investment in consolidated foreign subsidiaries. Excluding that benefit, adjusted diluted earnings per share were 43 cents a share in the September quarter. Analysts on average were looking for the credit card company to earn a profit of 38 cents a share in the quarter ending Sept. 30, according to Thomson Reuters. The company's provision for loan losses fell 13% to $1.2 billion from a year-earlier.