Credit card customer satisfaction rebounds slightly from 2009
Amex ranks highest, but survey finds loyalty continues to decline
Overall US customer satisfaction with credit cards has rebounded from a three-year low in 2009, according to the new J.D. Power and Associates 2010 US Credit Card Satisfaction Study.
However the marketing information company says professed loyalty continues to slip as skepticism that card issuers are focused on customers’ best interests remains.
Overall credit card satisfaction in 2010 averages 714 on a 1,000-point scale, up 9 points from 705 in 2009. However, customers who say they “definitely will not switch” primary cards in the next 12 months continues to decline, averaging 22 percent in 2010, down from 25 percent in 2009 and 30 percent in 2008. While customers perceive card issuers as “financially stable” and even “reliable,” they are significantly less likely to view them as “customer driven.”
“Despite massive efforts by the credit card industry during the past year to educate customers about credit card terms as a part of the CARD Act, customers’ grasp of those terms continues to be elusive,” said Michael Beird, director of banking services at J.D. Power. “Sixteen percent of card customers report that they did not receive CARD Act disclosures. Among those who did, only two-thirds state that the disclosures improved their understanding of how the act affects their individual circumstances. Furthermore, only one-third of cardholders say they ‘completely’ understand their credit card terms.”
American Express ranks highest in customer satisfaction for a fourth consecutive year with a score of 769 and performs well across all six factors that drive satisfaction. Discover Card follows with a score of 757 and performs particularly well in the interaction factor. U.S. Bank ranks third with a score of 727. The common denominators of performance among the highest-ranked issuers are exceptional rewards and benefits offerings; superior service experiences across phone and online channels; and a focus on reducing problems and resolving those that do occur with minimum time and effort for customers.
According to the J.D. Power Web Intelligence Division, online consumer conversations about credit cards indicate that many of those consumers perceive their relationships with credit card companies as an ongoing game of “cat and mouse,” with each side trying to outsmart the other. Social media discussions regarding credit cards also indicate that many consumers view even CARD Act disclosures with cynicism.
The study, now in its fourth year, measures customer satisfaction with credit cards by examining six key factors: interaction; credit card terms; billing and payment process; benefits and services; rewards; and problem resolution. The increase in overall satisfaction from 2009 is driven primarily by improvements in satisfaction with credit card terms and billing and payment process. The largest increase in satisfaction with credit card terms is among revolvers, or customers who typically carry account balances from month to month. In contrast, satisfaction among transactors, or customers who always or usually pay their entire credit card balance each month, has declined slightly, compared with 2009.
“It appears that revolvers are expressing a perception that ‘it could have been worse,'” said Beird. “Although 29 percent of revolvers report experiencing a rate increase in 2010, compared with 24 percent in 2009, the increase was less obvious than among transactors — 21 percent of transactors report a rate increase in 2010, compared with just 13 percent in 2009. In addition, revolvers, who tend to be more sensitive to fees and rates, are significantly more likely to say that CARD Act disclosures improved their understanding of their credit card terms.”
The survey is based on responses from more than 8,500 credit card customers. The study was fielded in May and June 2010.