Credit Card Satisfaction Up, Amex Tops List

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — On the heels of news that late credit card payments are at a 17-year low, a new study says Americans are becoming happier with their credit card issuers too.

According to J.D. Power and Associates, customer satisfaction with credit card companies increased for the second year in a row, with issuers collectively averaging 731 on a 1,000-point scale in 2011, up from 714 in 2010 and 705 in 2009.

J.D. Power said that the overall scores increased thanks to improvements in card issuers’ problem resolution and brand reputation categories. However, they said that a lot of the added points can be traced to both a decline in interest rates and more transparency provided by issuers regarding the terms and conditions associated with their products, which was one provision of recent financial reform legislation.

“It appears that credit card companies are doing a better job of communicating with customers, which may be an effect of the CARD Act,” Michael Beird, director of banking services at J.D. Power and Associates, said in a press release. “This improved communication is key to ensuring that customers fully understand their credit card terms, particularly benefits and fees, which helps reduce the number of problems reported and improves the overall experience.”

J.D. Power’s study was based on responses from more than 8,700 credit card customers fielded in May and June.

American Express (Stock Quote: AXP) netted the highest point total for the fifth consecutive year with a score of 786. The issuer was able to maintain the top spot thanks to its benefits and services, credit card terms and rewards. Discover (Stock Quote: DFS) was ranked second with a score of 779 and Barclaycard was third with 739.

Of the 10 issuers involved in the survey, HSBC (Stock Quote: HBC) ranked last, netting 689 points, followed by Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC), which earned 705 points and Citi (Stock Quote: C) which scored a 711.

Capitol One (Stock Quote: COF), which recently aquired HSBC’s credit card arm, was ranked seventh overall with a score of 720.

However, Beird also pointed out that even with improved communication and higher satisfaction across the industry, there is still a wide variation among credit card companies, and competition for acquiring new cardholders has increased during the past year.

“The improvements in the industry around more proactive and transparent communication create a more level playing field, but only if consumers educate themselves,” Beird said.

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