COVID-19 Credit Card Customer Service: Best Issuers, Features

Despite a decline in overall cardholder satisfaction, some issuers stand out from the rest.

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Credit card customer service might not have seemed like a make-or-break feature for some consumers in the past, but in the face of persisting uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it might now be more of a priority for cardholders.

The pandemic has had a negative impact overall on customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power’s 2020 credit card satisfaction survey, which was released in August. The survey offers a comprehensive evaluation of credit card customer satisfaction and is the product of 29,106 completed surveys from people who've used major credit cards recently.

Data from the survey shows a drop in consumer satisfaction from pre-pandemic levels, particularly related to issuer rates and fees, communication and call center experience. But despite the general downturn in satisfaction, a couple of issuers still stand out as a cut above the rest.

Here are the best major issuers for customer satisfaction, plus features to look for that could make it easier to solve problems and get answers.

American Express

American Express has consistently ranked high in consumer satisfaction in the J.D. Power survey, and even during the pandemic, it came out on top. The issuer ranked first among national issuers, with a score of 838 out of 1,000, knocking Discover out of its No. 1 spot from last year.

In recent months, American Express has made efforts to help cardholders, such as publicizing its financial hardship program and allowing direct access to the program’s dedicated website. Other issuers typically require customers to go through a general customer service line, which can result in long wait times.

American Express has also offered limited-time offers for specific cards, including bonus rewards and statement credits in a number of new categories that reflect pandemic shifts in consumer spending.

Discover

Discover ranked second for customer satisfaction in the J.D. Power survey with a score of 837 out of 1,000 — a bump down from its two-year streak as the highest-ranked.

In recent months, Discover is among the issuers that have provided credit card payment assistance to customers struggling with the effects of the pandemic. Although it hasn't made the details publicly available, cardholders can contact Discover’s customer service to find out about any available payment and fee-related assistance.

Best credit card customer service features

Sometimes, getting credit card issues straightened out is all about having the right tools, especially in the face of a crisis. If you want efficient solutions for particular problems, you might want to look for a card with one or more of these features.

Live online chat: Best for quick questions

Live online chat lets you send instant messages to customer service agents online. The best part: You won’t have to stay on hold, listening to elevator music indefinitely before getting an answer. Several major issuers, including American Express, Bank of America®, Capital One, Citi and Discover, offer some form of live chat. Usually, you log in to your account and click a live chat icon to start a conversation.

Live chat isn’t the best way to make more complicated requests, such as to close an account. That generally requires an old-fashioned phone call. But for everyday questions, it’s a good way to get fast answers while skipping the phone tree.

Remote card-locking technology: Best for dealing with lost cards

If you don’t know whether your credit card is lost, stolen or just temporarily misplaced, you will want some time to look for it before requesting a replacement. That's when remote card-locking technology comes in handy. Some issuers let you freeze or lock your account remotely from a computer or mobile device, ensuring that no one can make charges on your account while your card is missing.

Discover calls this feature "Freeze it," while Citi calls it "Quick Lock." American Express also allows cardholders to freeze their cards for up to seven days. Bank of America® lets you lock debit cards (but not credit cards).

24/7 customer service: Best for emergencies 

If you find yourself needing to deal with urgent credit card needs outside of regular business hours, having an issuer that offers round-the-clock support can be crucial.

Most issuers offer automated help 24/7, but some issuers — including American Express, Discover and U.S. Bank — let you speak to humans 24/7.

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