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Credit Card Study: Satisfaction Up Overall; Amex Back on Top

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Amid a heated credit card incentive war, a new customer satisfaction king has been crowned.

American Express earned the highest overall customer satisfaction ranking among all issuers in the J.D. Power 2017 Credit Card Satisfaction Study. American Express previously held this ranking from 2007 to 2013, until it tied with Discover in 2014. Discover broke the tie in 2015 and maintained its winning streak until now.

The study also noted that overall customer satisfaction with credit card issuers is at its highest level since J.D. Power started tracking it in 2007, citing cash-back rewards in particular as a driving factor.

And it suggests that if you’re thinking about getting a credit card, now’s the time, thanks to plenty of stiff competition for your business.

“It’s a really good time to be a credit card customer,” said Jim Miller, senior director of the banking practice at J.D. Power, in a press release. “Overall satisfaction is up across the board, and growing numbers of card companies and regional banks are coming to the market with new products that offer rich sign-up bonuses, increased cash-back rewards and new benefits.”

American Express enjoys high satisfaction across all main credit cards, Miller said in an email. The issuer has improved the benefits and rewards for some cards, including The Platinum Card® from American Express — one of the top-rated cards in the J.D. Power study.

The Platinum Card® from American Express has a $550 annual fee that may be offset by the many perks it offers: up to $200 in Uber credits, a $200 airline fee credit, an application fee credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and other benefits.

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers 5 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent on airfare purchased directly from airlines or booked through American Express Travel; 5 points per $1 spent on hotels booked on amextravel.com; and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. The card also comes with a generous sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Top 10: Where does your credit card company rank?

Here are the top 10 issuers ranked in J.D. Power’s Customer Satisfaction Index.

Rank Issuer
1 American Express
2 Discover
3 Capital One
4 Barclaycard
5 Chase
6 Bank of America®
7 U.S. Bank
8 Citi
9 Wells Fargo
10 Synchrony Bank

Other key takeaways

  • Cash-back rewards are a main incentive that led to high levels of overall satisfaction, the J.D. Power study notes. Cardholders find the easy redemption and straightforward value of cash-back rewards satisfactory, according to Miller.
  • Airline cards and Visa or Mastercard store-branded rewards credit cards have the lowest satisfaction scores among rewards cards, according to the study. Miller noted that airline credit cards received low satisfaction scores because of annual fees and because their rewards can be difficult to redeem. He said cardholders are less satisfied with the overall terms of store-branded cards, specifically the higher interest rates and fees, and also are less satisfied with the online experience those cards offer. 
  • When it comes to overall satisfaction, regional banks don’t lag far behind large Visa and Mastercard issuers. General customer satisfaction at regional banks heavily influences satisfaction with those banks’ credit cards, Miller notes. According to the study, the number of active regional bank credit card accounts increased by 24% since the fourth quarter of 2014.

The 2017 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 22,896 credit card customers. It measures cardholder satisfaction with credit card issuers by examining interaction; credit card terms; billing and payment; rewards; benefits and services; and problem resolution.

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