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Credit card satisfaction up

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Posted: 4 pm ET

Credit card holders are happier with their cards versus last year, the third straight year of improvement, a new survey found Thursday.

Overall credit card customer satisfaction measured 753 on a 1,000-point scale this year. That's up from 731 last year and 714 in 2010, according to J.D. Power and Associates. The firm has conducted the study for six years. (Each year, including this one, American Express has ranked highest in customer satisfaction. Props to AmEx.)

Of course, the steady improvement is hardly surprising considering it follows the years since the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act went into effect. That act banned egregious credit card practices such as double-cycle billing and inactivity fees, and it limited how issuers could impose penalty fees or raise interest rates.

Credit card companies have been forced to behave better, and that may be the reason why people like them more.

The jump in satisfaction mostly reflects an improvement in the way credit card companies resolve problems. The average time to resolve a credit card problem was a day shorter: four days this year versus five days in 2011. Credit card reps also were more likely to give time frames for when they expected to resolve a problem.

“Although credit card companies have been criticized for some of their business practices, when we look at overall customer satisfaction, they’re doing a good job,” said Jim Miller, senior director of banking services at J.D. Power and Associates, in a press release. “It is evident in the 2012 study that credit card companies have really done a great job in handling problems and achieving quicker resolution.”

Before you pat your issuer on its back for improving its customer service, consider this: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal consumer watchdog, started taking credit card complaints after its inception in July of last year, after last year's satisfaction survey was conducted by J.D. Power.

So maybe the CFPB's involvement in complaint gathering encouraged some issuers to be more receptive to customers with a problem. The agency helps facilitate the back-and-forth between customer and issuer. It also logs the complaints in a database and tracks their progress toward resolution, including whether the issuer responded in a timely manner or if the customer disputed the response from the issuer.

How do I know all this? Because the CFPB made the database public in mid-June of this year, just about the same time this year's survey was conducted. I wonder how the issuers will respond to the public scrutiny. Here's a bet that customer satisfaction with problem resolution improves again next year.

How would you rate your issuer? Why?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron

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3 Comments
Janna H
August 27, 2012 at 11:00 am

@Robert: That's a great point. Many riskier consumers (who experience higher interest and penalty) don't have credit cards anymore because their accounts were charged-off and banks have risen the bar for qualifying for credit since the financial crisis. That means less risky consumers hold credit cards and it's possible they have fewer beefs with their issuers. Thanks for the insight.

Robert
August 26, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Hi Janna,
Great info and well written. Thanks.

I don't doubt that the stats are improving in part due to the factors you list. Yet I have to wonder how much of the improvement comes from the unprecedented number of charged off customers who no longer have cards and as a result would not (I presume) participate in the survey?

Any thoughts?

Robert Killen
Financial Empowerment Services
541-350-6980