J.D. Power has released its 2012 Credit Card Satisfaction Study. Now in its sixth year, the survey examines six key factors: customer interaction, credit card terms, billing and payment process, rewards, benefits and services and problem resolution. As in past years, American Express credit cards came out on top, although Discover cards was a close second.
Here are the results:
One Big Problem with the Survey
As you can tell, the survey is not card specific. Instead, it ranks credit card companies. That’s fine when you are considering something like customer service and problem resolution. But it becomes a big problem when you are looking at rewards.
Rewards are very much card specific. So trying to give a credit card company that offers many different cards a single rating for rewards is not very helpful. And the J.D. Power study proves the point.
According to the study, American Express was the only issuer to receive a 5 out of 5 for credit card rewards. Discover and Chase both received a score of 4, with a score of 3 or lower going to the rest of the pack. But some of the absolute best rewards cards come from many of the issuers that received lower ratings.
I have and use credit cards from American Express (Platinum and Starwood Preferred Guest® card), Discover (Discover it Card), Chase (Chase Freedom and Slate cards), Citi (Citi Platinum Select MasterCard), and Capital One (Capital One® Venture℠ Rewards Credit Card). And while each of these issuers has pros and cons, I would not rank Amex above these others in terms of rewards. In fact, if I could carry only one card, it would be my Capital One Venture card, which pays out 2 points for every dollar spent.
My Picks for the Best Rewards Credit Cards
So any useful study of credit card rewards must be done on a card by card basis. And with that in mind, here are my picks for the best rewards credit cards from the major issuers:
Discover: Discover IT™ – Great 0% introductory offer, 5% cash back on rotating categories, and 1% cash back on everything else. Plus no annual fee.*
American Express: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express – Simply one of the best rewards cards if you are looking for free night stays at Starwood properties. Add in an excellent bonus Starwood points offer and that points can be converted to miles on just about any airline, and you get one of the absolute best travel rewards cards available.
Capital One: Capital One® VentureSM Rewards Credit Card – As I said, it’s hard to beat 2 points for every dollar spent.
Chase: Chase Freedom® Visa – One of the best all-around cards, it offers a competitive 0% introductory APR, a nice cash bonus, 5% cash back on rotating categories, and 1% cash back on everything else.
Citi: Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card – Citi offers an excellent 0% introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases, a competitive cash bonus opportunity for new cardholders, 5% cash back on categories that rotate, and 1% cash back on everything else.
If you have a favorite rewards card that I’ve left out, please leave a comment below.
* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the “Apply Now” button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer’s website. Discover is a paid advertiser of this site.
Published or updated February 7, 2013.