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Retailers walk over big banks in credit card customer satisfaction

28th January 2013 Print

As one in five consumers (19%) enter the new year owing a hefty £5,000 on their credit card, the 2013 Credit Card Awards from reveal that traditional banks and credit card firms are letting customers down.

The survey of over 10,000 credit card customers shows a 31% gap between the best and worst credit card provider, with traditional brands including RBS, Barclaycard and MBNA failing to win any awards. Instead, the John Lewis-Waitrose Partnership card sweeps the board, winning seven out of ten categories with an overall score of 66%. As well as winning Best Credit Card, the newcomer, which rewards card usage with generous shopping vouchers, comes top in seven categories including Most Trusted, Best Communication and Best Value for Money.

First Direct and American Express are close runners up, with First Direct living up to its reputation and winning awards for Best Telephone Customer Service and Best Online Account Management, while Amex wins the award for Best Email Customer Service.

By contrast, with an overall score of just 35%, RBS is voted Worst Credit Card Provider. It comes bottom in five categories, making the brand the least trusted, least likely to be recommended and worst at communicating. The brand, already knocked by the ongoing PPI scandal, also witnessed an IT meltdown last year which left millions of customers without access to their money.

Aside from the John Lewis-Waitrose  Partnership card, The Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury's credit cards also feature in the top ten best credit cards for 2013, winning the hearts of customers with generous rewards, good customer service and value for money. By contrast, the big banks and credit card giants dominate the wrong end of the table. Lloyds TSB, Barclaycard, Natwest and Halifax join RBS in the bottom five, all scoring below 40%. With the majority of consumers now having more than one card in their wallet, it could be that customers are now using these brands purely for debt management, and turning to the retail brands that offer cashback or other rewards as their primary ‘spending' card.

The greatest difference between the best and worst credit card is seen in the Value for Money category. The John Lewis-Waitrose Partnership comes top with seven out of ten customers satisfied (71%), while Lloyds TSB is voted the worst - less than one in three customers (31%) are satisfied with the value for money offered by their credit card.

Michael Ossei, personal finance expert at, says: "Retailers have successfully redefined credit cards to meet the needs of today's savvy shoppers. As well as providing credit if required, their cards are designed for everyday spending, with hefty rewards to loyal customers. Combined with great customer service and good value for money, it's not surprising that retail brands are hitting the spot with their credit cards.

"On the other hand, customers of RBS, Lloyds TSB and Barclaycard are fed up with not getting anything back from their card and disillusioned by the poor reputation of the big banks. Poor customer service and uncompetitive interest rates do nothing to help the situation. It's a telling reflection of the UK banking sector that consumers are willing to put their trust in brands that have no previous banking experience. It's worth noting though that the big banks have been taking steps to attract today's new savvy customer. Barclaycard continues to add to its credit card portfolio and launched a very competitive cashback card last year.

"Consumers around the UK are feeling the pinch after the December spending spree, but rather than burying their head in the sand as the bills tot up, they should act now to kick-start their 2013 money health check. Choosing the right credit card is a good first step and it's clear that they may need to move away from the traditional providers to do so."

Justin van Derpant, general manager - operations, John Lewis & Waitrose partnership card says: "We are thrilled to have received this award, which is a real endorsement of the high standards of customer service provided by the John Lewis & Waitrose partnership card.

"This win also reflects the great efforts and commitment of the team, who work closely with our provider to ensure we are offering a card that fully matches our customers' expectations when it comes to value, distinction and excellence in customer service."

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