• August 20, 2021

Credit Card Issuers Struggle to Meet Customer Expectations

Increased financial stress, a lack of responsiveness, and misaligned terms and rewards have created a recipe for declining customer satisfaction with credit card issuers, according to the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The research found overall customer satisfaction declines this year, led by midsize issuers that struggled to connect with evolving customer needs in a volatile economy.

"While there are some bright spots this year among individual issuers, the pandemic really broke a multiyear trend of improving satisfaction," explains John Cabell, director of banking and payments intelligence at J.D. Power. "The industry missed the mark on supporting customers' changing needs when many were facing significant financial challenges. Whether through blunt actions, such as tightening credit limits at the very moment when customers were most reliant on their cards as a source of short-term funding, or through lack of customer service accessibility, credit card issuers experienced declines in overall satisfaction, trust, brand perception and Net Promoter Scores this year."

Following are some other key findings of the 2021 study:

  • Overall satisfaction with credit card issuers fell to 805 (on a 1,000-point scale) from 811 a year ago. The decline is even more pronounced among midsize issuers, whose scores declined by 17 points to 796. Midsize issuers also experienced double-digit year-over-year declines across a range of key metrics, including satisfaction with credit card terms and benefits.
  • Goldman Sachs, issuer of the Apple Card, ranked highest among midsize issuers with a score of 864—47 points higher than the nearest competitor Goldman Sachs performed highest in benefits and services; communication; credit card terms; interaction; key moments; and rewards.
  • Rewards satisfaction languishes despite program changes: National issuers in the past year changed their rewards programs, adding grocery shopping and takeout dining as new ways to earn reward points. Despite these efforts, satisfaction did not rise.
  • New fintech entrants raise bar on satisfaction: New fintech firms are setting standards that highlight the fragile nature of cardholder satisfaction. One-third (33 percent) of cardholders in 2021 are using mobile payment services with their cards. Satisfaction among these cardholders is up to 39 points higher for mobile interactions than among customers who use mobile services alone.
  • Recent J.D. Power research highlights the rise of low/no interest buy-now-pay-later installment loan services. Forty-six percent of retail shoppers using these services say they would have used a credit card as a second choice but instead chose to avoid high interest rates and revolving debt.
J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study (Graphic: Business Wire)

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