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Discover, AmEx tie for top cards

By Jeanine Skowronski · Bankrate.com
Friday, August 29, 2014
Posted: 9 am ET

Those frog fraud protection commercials must be working.

For the first time in eight years, previously-perennial runner-up Discover tied American Express for the top spot in J.D. Power's credit card customer satisfaction study.

While American Express also improved year-over-year, "Discover improved at a little bit faster rate," says Jim Miller, senior director of banking services at J.D. Power. "The advertising hype lives up to the real experience."

Both issuers scored 819 on a 1,000-point scale, despite having what Miller calls two very different business models.

"Discover focuses on one card, mainly cash back rewards," he says. "Amex has cards for different segments."

Each firm, however, excels at customer interaction, providing great personal service over-the-phone and allowing customers to easily manage accounts online or via mobile apps.

J.D. Power's study is based off of responses from nearly 20,000 credit card customers obtained September 2013 to May 2014.

Chase ranked third with a score of 789. Overall, customers' satisfaction with credit card issuers is at an all-time high. The industry collectively scored a 778, surpassing the previous high of 767 in 2013.

"From a pure customer service perspective, the credit card issuers are one of the better-performing industries," Miller says.

The study found 19 percent of customers indicate the value of their rewards program has improved in 2014, up from 17 percent in 2013. But issuers looking to move up in the rankings shouldn't only focus on building a robust rewards program. They also need to make sure they are communicating the ins-and-outs of these programs to prospective and existing customers.

"There're still a lot of customers (who) don't know what's available to them," Miller says. "When customers use the benefits, when they redeem rewards, they're most satisfied and more loyal."

What do you value in a credit card company? Let us know in the comments below!

Follow me on Twitter: @JeanineSko.

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