Credit card rewards and cardholder satisfaction statistics

Loyalty programs key to cardholder happiness; security seen as needing improvement

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There's great news for credit card issuers: Consumers are happier with their credit cards than they've ever been.

Overall customer satisfaction among credit card holders in 2015 ranked 790 on J.D. Power's 1,000-point scale, breaking the previous record of 778 in 2014.1

So what do consumers like most about their credit cards? Fifty-two percent said in 2015 that they chose a new card for a better rewards program. Twenty-four percent said they chose a new card for better benefits.1

The quest for the best rewards

Among consumers whose preferred payment instrument is a credit card, 86 percent said in 2015 their card had a rewards program associated with it.2

When asked what features were most attractive in their credit card, 55 percent of respondents in 2015 said rewards type, 33 percent said card brand, 32 percent said payment options/flexibility and 30 percent said interest rate.2

What feature do you find most attractive on your preferred credit card?
  2015 2014
Types of rewards 55% 52%
Card brand (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover) 33% 33%
Payment options / flexibility 32% 30%
Finance charge / interest rate 30% 24%
Customer service provided by the issuer of my card 24% 22%
Balance transfer options 16% N/A
Alerts / mobile options 16% 15%
I only have one credit card 13% 14%
Ability to select my card design 11% 14%
Source: TSYS 2015 U.S. Consumer Payment Choice Study


Cash back is the most popular type of reward. Fifty-five percent of cardholders said in 2015 that they most often redeemed rewards points for cash. That was followed by 26 percent who redeemed points for gift cards, 9 percent who redeemed points for travel, 8 percent who redeemed points for merchandise and 2 percent who redeemed points for dining.2

Of cardholders who have cards with rewards, 54 percent in 2015 said their rewards were attractive, up from 46 percent in 2014.1

Banks have strong incentive to keep customers happy with their rewards. People who like their cards' reward programs tend to spend more on them. In 2015, consumers who rated their rewards as attractive spent $1,132 per month on average compared to $744 per month spent by those who considered their rewards unattractive.1  As of 2014, nearly two-thirds of all credit card balances were held on rewards cards, representing 80 percent of all credit card spending.4      

Happiness with rewards programs seems to stem from rewards redemption. Rewards satisfaction was highest among consumers who redeemed their rewards most frequently. Fifty-three percent of rewards cardholders in 2015 had redeemed rewards in the previous six months, compared to 49 percent the year before.1 Those who had redeemed rewards in the previous six months had a satisfaction rate of 856 on J.D. Power's 1,000-point scale. On the other hand, those who had redeemed rewards six to 12 months prior had a satisfaction rate of 828, and those who'd never redeemed their rewards had a satisfaction rate of 728.1

Customers in 2015 who redeemed rewards spent approximately $1,128 per month while those who didn't redeem rewards spent approximately $645 per month.1

Rewards also encourage customer loyalty. American consumers held 3.3 billion memberships in customer loyalty programs in 2015, with credit card reward programs accounting for the most memberships at 578 million. However, credit card rewards programs are growing at a slower pace than in years past. In 2015, memberships in those programs grew 5 percent, compared with 28 percent in 2013.3

Benefits are big business

Rewards aren't all that credit cards have to offer. Many offer other benefits such as emergency assistance and car rental insurance. Cardholders are more likely to use their card benefits than in years past. In 2015, 67 percent of cardholders said they used at least one credit card benefit in the past year, up from 57 percent in 2014.1 Cardholders who have used card benefits have generally been more satisfied with their card issuer than those who have not, and those who use their benefits spend more. In 2015, cardholders who used their card benefits spent on average $316 more than those who did not use cardholder benefits.1

Sixty-six percent of cardholders who were highly satisfied with their credit cards in 2015 said they definitely would recommend their card issuer and 56 percent of that same group said they definitely would not switch to another card issuer.1 On the other hand, only 3 percent of displeased customers said in 2015 that they would definitely recommend their card issuer and 13 percent said they would not switch providers.1

The highest customer satisfaction rating, according to J.D. Power, belongs to Discover, which topped the list for the second year in a row.



  1. Discover
  2. American Express
  3. Chase
  4. Capital One
  5. Barclaycard
  6. Wells Fargo
  7. Bank of America
  8. U.S. Bank
  9. Citi
  10. GE Capital Retail Bank/Synchrony Bank1


Room for improvement, especially with security

When asked what features would make a payment card more valuable, 54 percent of respondents in 2015 said cash-back discounts at specific merchants that would be credited to their accounts immediately. That was followed by 45 percent who said discounts with specific merchants and 45 percent who said cards upgraded to support EMV.2


What feature(s) could make any payment program more valuable?
Cash-back discounts on purchases at specific merchants that are credited back to your account immediately 54%
Discounts on purchases with participating name-brand merchants 45%
Card contains a computer chip that allows it to be used in payment terminals worldwide, as well as to reduce counterfeit card fraud risk 45%
Discount on purchases from the merchant who issued the card (e.g., store-branded credit card) 43%
Discounts on purchases with local merchants 42%
Alerts sent to your computer or mobile phone each time a purchase is made with the card 41%
The ability to make online transactions using a special “one time-use” card number that can be used for only one purchase and protects your card number from being exposed to hackers 40%
The ability to converse with customer service representatives via online chat 38%
The ability to transfer money to another cardholder using an online or mobile phone app 29%
The ability to use your smartphone to make a purchase using a specific credit, debit or prepaid card account 28%
A mobile phone app that can help you classify your purchases for budgeting or business/personal use 26%
Source: TSYS 2015 U.S. Consumer Payment Choice Study


One concern that cardholders have is security. Customers who believed in 2015 that their personal information was very secure were more satisfied with their card issuers than those who did not believe their personal information was secure. Only 32 percent of cardholders in 2015 believed their personal information was secure.1

When it comes to age, 45 percent of Generation Z and 37 percent of Generation Y cardholders believed in 2015 that their personal information was very secure compared with 31 percent of Generation X cardholders, 29 percent of Baby Boomers and 32 percent of Pre-Boomers.1

Age and perceptions about security of personal information
% saying their personal information is very safe with their credit card issuer
Gen Z (1995-2004)
Gen Y (1977-1994)
Gen X (1965-1976)
Baby boomers (1946-1964)
Pre-boomers (Born before 1946)
 Source: J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study


Race and ethnicity make a difference in beliefs about security, too. 

Race and perceptions about security of personal information
% saying their personal information is very safe with their credit card issuer
 Source: J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study


Privacy and issuer communications

However, many consumers are less concerned about privacy. In 2015, 60 percent of survey respondents said they were willing to receive coupons and special offers based on information their card issuer collected about their buying behavior.2

Fifty-five percent of consumers say they have not asked their banks to stop sending paper statements.2 



Consumers also have strong opinions about how they would like their card issuers to communicate with them. Forty-three percent of consumers said in 2015 that they would be open to receiving marketing and special offer communications by their bank once a month. However, most wanted that correspondence to be nonintrusive, with email being the preferred method of communication.2




  1. J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study
  2. TSYS 2015 U.S. Consumer Payment Choice Study
  3. 2015 COLLOQUY Loyalty Census
  4. The Consumer Credit Market Report, U.S. Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, December 2015

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See related: Credit card statistics, Debit card statistics, Credit card market share statistics

Updated: June 22, 2016

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