Credit Card Satisfaction Highest In J.D. Power Study's History

Americans are happier with their credit cards than they've ever been over the past six years. That's according to the latest J.D. Power and Associates study of consumer satisfaction among credit card customers, released to the general public this month.

Researchers compiled the results of 13,726 consumer surveys to rate consumer lenders on a 1,000 point scale. The 2012 satisfaction average of 753 shows banks scoring the highest on J.D. Power's key factors since the study began six years ago. Researchers asked credit card customers to rate their lenders based on:
  • customer service agent interaction
  • credit card terms
  • billing and payment process
  • rewards
  • benefits and services, and
  • problem resolution

According to company spokesman Jim Miller, a period of stability after the major regulatory changes of 2009 and 2010 have reduced the number of cardholders experiencing changes in rates and fees, common complaints from previous years.

AmEx, Discover top credit card ratings

Four credit card issuers earned satisfaction scores higher than the industry average:

Of those banks, American Express and Discover earned the maximum five J.D. Power Circle Ratings. The firm uses the same one-to-five rating across multiple industries, such as car manufacturing and health insurance.

The company's ratings echo some of the marketing promises made in lenders' latest advertising campaigns. Researchers found that consumers offer their banks much higher satisfaction scores when customer service agents can resolve problems on a single phone call or within the same day. Transferring a call to a different department can drop a lender's satisfaction score by as many as 60 points.

Rewards cards remain popular, while banks get better at spotting fraud

Rewards credit cards remain very popular with consumers. Four out of five survey respondents told researchers that they understand how to redeem their rewards. 18 percent of respondents said the value of their rewards points had increased from the previous year, while fewer than a quarter of consumers reported expired rewards over the past 12 months.

Identity theft and credit card fraud remained the most pressing concern for most credit card customers. However, more than half of the respondents who experienced fraud said their banks contacted them with a proactive solution before they saw fraudulent activity on their statements.