J.D. Power and Associates recently released the results of a customer satisfaction survey of credit card issuers in conjunction with their 2009 consumer satisfaction awards. According to J.D. Power and Associates: “The study measures customer satisfaction with credit cards by examining six key factors: interaction; fees and rates; billing and payment process; rewards; benefits and services; and problem resolution.”
In these categories, they found that Discover Card and American Express Credit Cards topped the list in nearly every category along with National City (except in the category of Problem Resolution where the sample size was too small). American Express ultimately received the J.D. Power and Associates Award for Credit Card Satisfaction. In some categories, these big three were rivaled by Wells Fargo. U.S. Bank also, notably, scored above average in Fees and scored an outstanding in Problem Resolution. Target Visa, WaMu, GE Money, Credit One Bank, and First Premier Bank scored below average (2 out of 5) across nearly all categories. Interestingly enough, Bank of America scored only average in all but two categories (Rewards and Problem Resolution) where it scored below average.
According to J.D. Power and Associates, the survey shows that overall credit card customer satisfaction has fallen to its lowest level since the study began in 2007, and that customer satisfaction with credit cards is the least among all the financial products measured by surveys conducted by the J.D. Power and Associates marketing company.
While we find certain aspects of this survey enlightening, we would like to point out that in some respects the survey is comparing apples to oranges. First Premier Bank issues, for instance, cards to people with poor credit scores, whereas, American Express only issues cards to people who have excellent credit. The question of Fees, Rewards, and Product Benefits between the two companies is somewhat self evident. American Express is going to offer lower fees, more generous rewards, and better product benefits than First Premier Bank. How First Premier Bank does against other credit card companies catering to a similar clientele is the right question and a question that unfortunately this survey cannot address. So, in categories like Fees, Rewards, and Product Benefits, we expect that the credit cards designed for people with poor credit simply aren’t going to do very well, nor do we think they should. At the same time, giving American Express the J.D. Power and Associate 2009 award for Credit Card Satisfaction, while admirable in acknowledging their outstanding customer service, doesn’t do much for people whose credit scores preclude them from getting an American Express card and the survey doesn’t tell them which of the companies that caters to this segment will offer them the best deal for their money.
Disclosure: Some links point to CardHub.com, which is owned by the same parent company as this blog.