Editorial Policy

Consumers Feeling More Content with their Credit Cards, Survey Shows

Marcia Frellick

August 24, 2012

American Express once again swiped top honors from 10 competitors in the annual J.D. Power and Associates credit card satisfaction survey.

It’s the sixth year in a row consumers have put the company at the top of the list, this time with 807 points out of a possible 1,000.

Next in line, in order, were Discover, Chase, Barclaycard, U.S. Bank, Citi Cards, Wells Fargo, Capital One, Bank of America, GE Capital Retail Bank and HSBC. All 11 issuers saw their scores increase from last year.

The survey of nearly 14,000 consumers conducted in June used six factors to rate satisfaction: customer interaction, billing and payment processes, credit card terms, rewards programs, benefits and services, and problem resolution.

Good news for industry
The results announced Thursday highlighted good news for credit card industry overall. Satisfaction scores averaged 753 on a 1,000-point scale this year, up from 731 in 2011 and 714 in 2010. That comfort level is the highest it’s been since the first of these studies six years ago and continues the steady increase that began with the Credit CARD Act of 2009, which limited fees and surprise interest rates hikes.

The biggest reason for the satisfaction boost appears to be happiness with the way problems are being resolved. That category’s ratings shot up 31 points. The average time required to resolve a problem fell to four days this year from five in 2011.

Improvements in the conflict resolution category coincided with the debut this year of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s national credit card complaint system — a public database where consumers can log their credit card complaints and issuers are expected to respond within 15 days.

The second biggest driver for satisfaction was the rewards category, which increased 28 points.

Only 11 percent of customers reported problems with their credit cards. Of those, nearly one in four point directly to credit card fraud. Still, there’s good news even in this category: More than half (52 percent) of customers hit with fraud were contacted by their issuer before they even realized they were a victims.

Upheaval subsides
The report sends a message of calm. It appears that, after a rocky few years of new regulations and economic upset, credit card users are taking a collective deep breath and settling in with the cards they’ve chosen.

“There has not been a lot of change in the past year in fees, credit limits and card terms — the things that often affect customers in a negative way,” said Jim Miller, senior director of banking services at J.D. Power in a statement. “After a series of dramatic changes, credit card customers are enjoying a time of stability.”