The JD Power US Credit Card Satisfaction Survey is an annual survey that measures customer satisfaction with their credit cards and card issuers. 2019 marks the thirteenth year of the survey, which has also shown industry trends from consumers. As the title indicates, Discover wins the 2019 JD Power US Credit Card Satisfaction Survey.
The survey is based on six factors: interaction, credit card terms, communication, benefits and services, rewards, and key moments. These factors are listed from most important to least important. Over 28,000 Americans were surveyed about their cards and issuers between September 2018 and May 2019.
Special thanks to TMCnet.com (H/T) for reporting the survey results and press release. Normally, J.D. Power posts their press release directly on their website.
Like most years, the race for first place was between Discover (842) and American Express (838). The former narrowly won for the fifth time in the last six years.
Furthermore, the rest of the issuers was either near or below the industry average score. Chase and Capital One tied for third place with scores of 807. Barclays came in just one point short of third place (at 806), equaling the industry average score. And six other issuers came in with scores below 800 with Credit One bringing up the rear with a score of 728.
The following table is a summary of the 2019 results. All final scores are out of a possible 1,000 points. And all JD Power Circle Ratings are out of a possible five circles.
|Issuer||Score||JD Power Circle Rating|
|Discover||842||5 / 5|
|American Express||838||5 / 5|
|Chase||807||3 / 5|
|Capital One||807||3 / 5|
|Barclays *||806||3 / 5|
|Citi||799||3 / 5|
|Bank of America||796||3 / 5|
|US Bank||785||3 / 5|
|Wells Fargo||783||2 / 5|
|Synchrony Bank||780||2 / 5|
|Credit One||728||2 / 5|
* The industry average score was 806.
Analysis & Takeaways
John Cabell, Director of Wealth and Lending Intelligence at J.D. Power, said the following about credit card benefits:
“The average credit card customer today has roughly 16 different benefits available, yet only about one-third of customers say they completely understand all of the benefits available to them. While the last several years of rewards-based competition among issuers has served to steadily increase overall customer satisfaction, issuers may have wrung all of the value they can out of this approach. 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.”
I agree with Mr. Cabell about recent industry trends overall. However, I have my own perspective on the JD Power US Credit Card Satisfaction Survey and the surveyor’s takeaways.
Some Customers Are Not Aware That Benefits Exist
The first sentence from Mr. Cabell’s quotation is spot on! There is a plethora of credit cards that have great perks, especially travel cards. Such perks are oftentimes the reason why these cards exist and why many points and miles enthusiasts get them.
However, card issuers and banks must make consumers more aware that these benefits exist in the first place. A customer who does not know about a benefit will obviously not use that benefit.
Most Customers Do Not Understand Their Benefits
Moreover, the other two-thirds of surveyed consumers are aware that their card has benefits. But they do not have a full understanding of how they work or how to use them. J.D. Power states that consumers are not satisfied with how their issuer explains these important details. This is huge because there are so many cards whose value lies in their benefits.
Secondary benefits were the least understood category of benefits. These benefits were used less than main benefits. And many cardholders cited that their card did not have any other benefits besides their primary ones. Secondary benefits are often where a lot of value lies. For example, the primary car rental insurance from the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best in the industry for travelers. Yet there are many people who do not use this perk or know that it exists.
The last two takeaways are why Citi dropped several benefits from their card earlier in 2019. Citi (799) themselves are at fault because they did not communicate well enough about their now-discontinued benefits. Representatives from Citi cited the reason for the discontinuation as a lack of use. But a lack of use comes from poor communication and a lack of consumer awareness. In other words, Citi has dug their own grave.
On the contrary, American Express (838) has been suffering from the opposite of this takeaway. In other words, too many people understand their card’s benefits. That is why American Express has been taking away and restricting perks, especially on their premium cards. I’m Frustrated with American Express Lately because of this even though many people are satisfied with them.
Customer-Focused Communication Is Key
Many issuers who were below the industry average were not as efficient or effective with communications about card benefits. When you first receive a new credit card, the issuer gives you a separate booklet about the card’s benefits. However, many people end up throwing that booklet away thinking it’s useless. And those who do read it get overwhelmed with small font and big words that they do not always understand.
The issuers that did better in the survey still send booklets. But they are colorful, filled with pictures, and normal sized font. The verbiage is clear and concise so that cardholders understand what they have. Discover, American Express, Chase, and Capital One are all banks that have such booklets. It’s no coincidence that they were the top four issuers in the 2019 survey.
The 2019 J.D. Power US Credit Card Satisfaction Survey is filled with lots of information about the credit card industry. And if you look at it closely, the results have followed news from the points and miles world.
Knowledge and communication about credit cards, points, and miles are why blogs like this one exist. Points and miles enthusiasts are a minority in the credit card world. However, we have so much to share because many banks and issuers are not doing a good enough job communicating.
Congratulations to Discover for winning the survey for the fifth time in the last six years!