Research and Statistics

Credit card rewards and cardholder satisfaction statistics


Rewards are key factor in cardholder satisfaction, with cash rebates being the most popular form of reward

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Overall customer satisfaction among credit card holders in 2017 ranked 801 on J.D. Power’s 1,000-point scale, nearly the same as 2016’s 802 points.

According to the J.D. Power 2018 Credit Card Satisfaction Study, rewards continue to drive satisfaction with cards. Forty-seven percent of users who switched to a new card in the past 12 months did so for better rewards, the analysis company found. And greater amounts of rewards corresponded with higher satisfaction. However, about 36 percent of users said they did not fully understand their rewards.

Among large card issuers, Discover reclaimed the number-one rank for satisfaction. American Express was second and Barclays US was third.

Another source of satisfaction for credit card holders was a free credit score, J.D. Power said.

Complaints to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2017 often focused on store card issuers. In relation to their total credit card loans, the top three complaint getters were Alliance Data Card Services, Barclays US and Synchrony Financial.

According to payments provider TSYS, rewards programs strengthened their position as the most attractive feature for card holders. The 2017 TSYS U.S. Consumer Payment Study said 68 percent of card holders named rewards as the most attractive feature of their preferred card in 2017, up from 59 percent in 2016 and 55 percent in 2015.

People with higher incomes generally put greater emphasis on rewards. Only 55 percent of people with income under $25,000 named rewards as their top consideration, compared to 62 percent for people with $25,000 to 50,000 in income, 71 percent for people with $50,000 to $75,000, 80 percent for people with $75,000 to $100,000 and 80 percent for people with $100,000 to $150,000.

Cash rewards are the most popular type of rewards, the TSYS study found, and cash strengthened its lead over gift cards, travel and other rewards in 2017.


People are redeeming cash back rewards more frequently, the TSYS study said. Those redeeming once a month went to 24 percent in 2017, from 15 percent in 2016. The most common redemption frequency is a few times a year – 32 percent in 2017 up from 30 percent in 2016. Those saying they redeemed their cash infrequently or never fell to 19 percent, from 35 percent.

According to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Report on the Consumer Credit Card Market 2017, purchases on cash rewards cards made up 27 percent of overall credit card spending in 2016, while purchases on miles rewards cards made up 21 percent.

Rewards varied widely depending on card users’ credit tier. Superprime consumers made more than 90 percent of their purchases with rewards cards. Deep subprime consumers, on the other hand, made less than 50 percent of their card purchases with rewards cards, the CFPB report said.

Purchase volume by credit tier and reward type

Debt fears



J.D. Power 2018 Credit Card Satisfaction Study

2017 TSYS U.S. Consumer Payment Study

U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Report on the Consumer Credit Card Market 2017




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