Most consumers know that all credit cards are not created equal. And separating the bad from the good can be tricky, especially because the card issuers are constantly beating the bushes for new customers and offering all manner of rewards and benefits.
J.D. Power has just released its 2015 customer satisfaction study to help sort out the contenders. The study includes responses from more than 20,000 U.S. credit card customers and was fielded between September 2014 and May 2015.
The average score for the 10 credit card issuers included in the study was 790 out of a possible 1,000. The lowest scoring issuer this year was GE Capital Retail Bank/Synchrony Financial (NYSE: SYF) with a score of 743. Synchrony was last in 2014 as well, with a score of 739.
The other card issuer that J.D. Power included in a category it calls simply “the rest,” was Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) which scored 765 out of 1,000. Citi also ended up in this category last year with a score of 756.
Six other banks were rated “about average” by J.D. Power: U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB) with a score of 776; Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC), which scored 777; Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) with a score of 779; Barclays PLC (NYSE: BCS) with a score of 788; Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF), which scored 790; and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) with a score of 792.
The top two issuers were Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) and American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP), which scored 828 and 820, respectively. In 2014 the two card issuers tied for first place with identical scores of 819.
Some 52% of customers say they selected a new credit card for a better rewards program and another 24% made the choice for better benefits. J.D. Power noted that customers who rate their rewards as attractive (ratings of 9 or 10) spend more per month — $1,132, on average — than those who consider their rewards unattractive (ratings of 1 to 5), who spend an average of $744.
A J.D. Power executive noted:
Reward redemption and benefit use have a tremendous impact on the customer experience. The fact that Discover ranks highest in satisfaction among all credit card issuers in each of the six factors measured in the study is a testament of the relentless focus and importance the company has placed on the ease of redemption and use of benefits. When customers feel the rewards are attractive and when they redeem rewards more frequently, satisfaction improves, they spend more and they are more likely to recommend the card to friends and family.
The press announcement of the study’s results also noted that customer service can generate high levels of retention and advocacy for a particular brand of credit card.