Discover and Amex top credit card customer satisfaction rankings among US national credit card issuers according to JD Power. Card issuers are continuing to ramp up their rewards and loyalty programmes. But there are signs that the incentive war may have reached its peak.

US credit card issuers are engaged in a pitched battle to win new customers with ever-richer rewards and incentive programmes. Not only are the established issuers under attack from alternative lenders and digital payment apps. The incumbents also face the high profile and much hyped challenge of the just launched Apple credit card.

Meantime, US credit card spending continues to set records. The respected annual JD Power 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction survey suggests that the credit card incentive war may have peaked.

“The average credit card customer has roughly 16 different benefits available,” says John Cabell, Director, Wealth, Lending Intelligence, JD Power.

“Yet only about one-third of customers say they completely understand all of the benefits available to them.

He adds that in recent years issuers have tried to increase overall customer satisfaction. But, he says that issuers may have wrung all of the value they can out of this approach.

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“They should now turn their attention to communication to help customers extract the full value from their products.  And buttress themselves against competition from a growing crop of rivals.”

Credit Card Customer Satisfaction Rankings 

Discover ranks highest in customer satisfaction among national issuers, with a score of 842. American Express (838) ranks second, while and Capital One and Chase (807 each) rank third in a tie. JD Power rankings operate on a 1,000 point scale.

The top is rounded off by Barclays US, Citi, Bank of America and US Bank.

A new segment for regional bank issuers has been created in the survey this year. The inaugural award winner is BB&T, with a score of 811. PNC (810) ranks second ahead of BBVA, Citizens and Regions.

The US Credit Card Satisfaction Study is now in its 13th year. Specifically, it measures customer satisfaction with credit card issuers by examining six factors. In descending order of importance: interaction; credit card terms; communication; benefits and services; rewards; and key moments.

Credit card customer satisfaction: key findings

Facing a rich mix of rewards and benefits, 66% of consumers completely understand rewards offerings.  But just 36% fully understand their supplementary benefits.

Credit card customers who say they fully understand the benefits available to them have satisfaction scores that are 165 points higher than those who do not completely understand their benefits offerings (864 vs. 699).

Also, customers who completely understand their benefits cite significantly fewer benefits available than those who do not understand their benefits.

  • Customer-focused communication around card benefits are lacking.

Benefits and services is tied with credit card terms as the lowest-rated factor in the study (758), with customers having the lowest levels of satisfaction with the issuer’s explanation of card benefits.

  • Room for reputational improvement

On a 7-point brand image scale, customers give credit card issuers a score of 4.97 on being customer-driven vs. profit-driven. Some 41% say they “strongly agree” that their issuer acts in their best interest. As branded products like the Apple Card enter the market, issuers should communicate clearly and deliver consistently on customer promises to boost their image.

  • Cyber security and identity theft fears decline in 2019

Recent, high profile data breaches have not yet had a negative effect on customer perception of security. 52% of customers report that they “strongly agree” that their credit card issuer protects their personal identity.

This is up from 49% in 2018. However, given the timing of events, monitoring fluctuations in customer trust in the coming months will be important.