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AmEx, Discover Top J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Survey

J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study was published on August 23, and the results surprised almost nobody. Yet again (for the sixth year running), American Express topped the list, very closely followed by Discover Card.

Credit card companies and customer satisfaction

The study was conducted in June, and was based on responses from "more that 13,726 credit card customers" (13,727?). It covered the six aspects of credit cards that many would regard as the most important factors in owning plastic:
  1. Interaction
  2. Credit card terms
  3. Billing and payment process
  4. Rewards
  5. Benefits and services
  6. Problem resolution

In a press release, J.D. Power and Associates stressed the upheaval that credit card companies have experienced since the credit crunch, including increased legislation and regulation, and the squeeze on credit that has seen many accounts closed and credit limits reduced. But Jim Miller, senior director of banking services at the company, commented:

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. After a series of dramatic changes, credit card customers are enjoying a time of stability.

Consumers like their credit card companies more

All in all, the news for the industry was good: people are happier with their card issuers now than they have been for some time. The study scored credit card companies out of a maximum 1,000 points, and the overall average for all companies this year was 753, compared with 731 last year, and 714 in 2010.

With one exception, all 11 of the major credit card companies in the survey scored within the 700s. That exception was American Express, which achieved 807 points. It was very closely followed by Discover Card, which scored 799, and somewhat more distantly by third-place Chase on 762. At the bottom end of the table were Bank of America (728), GE Capital Retail Bank (704) and HSBC (703).

A credit card offers more than just convenient payments

The study revealed another interesting point. Those who take most advantage of all the facilities, perks, privileges and benefits their credit card offers tend to be more satisfied than those who don't.

In some ways this is common sense, but all too many people don't know the full range of benefits that their plastic can deliver. J.D. Power and Associates quoted:
  1. Online statements
  2. Bill payments
  3. Mobile apps
  4. Due date selection
  5. Text or email account alerts
  6. Privileged access to event tickets
  7. Hotel discounts
  8. Concierge services and other privileges at airports

Two other benefits that many don't know they may have are:
  1. Extended warranties on purchases, which can, for example, be really valuable if your washer breaks down six months after its manaufacturer's warranty expires.
  2. Purchase protection, which can compensate you (up to certain limits) if an item you've purchased on your card is stolen or accidentally damaged shortly after you bought it.

Not all credit cards offer these (though, perhaps tellingly, all American Express and Discover Card products do), but, if you don't already know, it's worth checking whether yours does. In doing so, you might even discover other perks that you didn't know you had.

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