Credit card debt has a way of causing problems

You’re Doing It Wrong

You’ve made the jump into the credit card ether and think it’s awesome. The cash back, the points, the rewards — they’re all great. But what if they could be better?

Turns out they could be. According to a J.D. Power and Associates survey, the credit cards we use often aren’t the best ones for us. One in 5 of us has a card that doesn’t line up with the things we buy and up to 50 percent of us have good cards but with our spending habits, we could have better ones.

“Regardless of why customers have the wrong card, they are overall less satisfied with their card than those who have a card more appropriate for them,” says Jim Miller, senior director of banking at J.D. Power. “Carrying the right card is beneficial for both customers and card issuers.”

J.D. Power says people typically pick a card for reward programs, but 1-in-5 of us would get a bigger benefit from a card with a lower interest rate.

“These customers are either not spending enough to earn rewards to offset their annual fee, are creditworthy but paying a high interest rate or are not using the rewards and benefits associated with their current card,” the survey says.

Almost half of airline credit card customers also have the wrong type of card. The study says 44 percent of co-branded airline cards aren’t being used right.

Whether it’s not meeting the minimum monthly spending amount or not using the rewards the card already offers, cardholders don’t understand the benefits and guidelines for these cards. J.D. Power says these customers have a lower satisfaction rate than those who carry the right card and are more likely to switch cards because of this without knowing that the card is actually the wrong fit in the first place.

“Issuers should make sure customers are aware of the benefits of their card and how to use them, and should review their customers’ profile and spend history to recommend the right card for them,” the study says.

The most used cards don’t create the happiest customers

Just because a credit card has more cardholders doesn’t mean those customers are happy with them. CardHub.com says Chase is the largest credit card issuer in the country, but when it comes to customer satisfaction, J.D. Power says Chase ranks sixth on the list. The top spot belongs to Discover. Remember them?

They’ve had the top spot in user happiness three straight years, but aren’t even in the top 5 most popular credit card companies. In fact, they are only slightly above American Express when it comes to market share, which is dominated by Visa and MasterCard. Really, they just aren’t as popular as some other consumer options.

J.D. Power says they’re the best when it comes to interaction with users, terms of the credit cards, billing and payment, rewards, benefits, and dispute resolutions. The even beat their record last year by six points. Sometimes less name recognition is a good thing.

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