Rank the card companies - your opinion

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Its all a question of what you prioritize

Postby Iroquois » Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:24 am

First of all things change with time. For instance Amex and Discover were capital starved and had fewer channels to get it during the meltdown so were most aggressive in pulling back credit lines from customers in 08-09. Those "reliability" challeneges are worth noting to some for the next downturn. Right now my sense is that Citi is trying hardest to capture market share and share of wallet with very aggressive pricing.

But overall if you are looking for a credit card that is accepted, gives the best spending limits/ credit limits, most favorable fee and APR structures then my choices are the following. A lot is discussed about customer service and in particular being American. Much like an automobile though, I'll go with quality and substance rather than hype or smiles or words on the overall product. I'd rather own / drive a Lexus or Mercedes rather than a Chrysler and prefer not to have to even need to deal with CS or in the analogy repairs and maintenence.

1. Bank of America; Fundamentals are extremely good but CS when needed which is not often is harder to navigate. Great lines, great APR

2. Chase: Again fundamentals are solid. Extermely reliable . Great Lines Great APR

3. Citi : I've had exceptionally good experiences with them. Great lines Great APR. Seems to being trying the hardest. CS a bit "sketchy"

4. Amex : Great CS but CS isn't the reason that I got the card or use the card. They try hard but the 08-09 highly visible stories about wholeslae slashes to customer spending is worth remembering. Lines are conservative.

5. HSBC / Cap One: GM card experience has been good but not tremendously competitive or responsive. CS not great

6. Discover Card : Good back of the wallet card. They smile a lot and talk a good game but seem to be non competitive on line assignments and other fundamental features of a card and cumbersome to work with on anything beyond the very mundane. That said they have the best website out there.

Just my opinion and just my experiences.

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Postby MemberSince99 » Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:35 am

Well personally I'm not sure how you can compare Lexus and Mercedes to the outsourced CS at these companies. Lexus and Mercedes are clearly superior to Chrysler but then again they cost a lot more too. In this case, the outsourced CS is lower priced option and the quality difference shows. It would be like having your Mercedes give you messages in a foreign language you can't understand, where sometimes they are accurate and other times they are not.

The thing I've found with American CS is this - I can understand them, where some of the foreign CS I have a very hard time understanding (and sometimes they can't understand me either as they ask me to repeat what I said). Since communication is what it's all about, that makes things very difficult to say the least. Second, I have found that the Americans know their stuff, and if they don't know, rather than make things up or read a script as the foreign CS has done, they will get you an answer and odds are very good that answer will be correct. It does me no good when a CSR make something up, I could get that kind of answer from a "Magic 8 Ball".
Plus and this may not mean anything to some but I like that we are putting Americans to work and giving them jobs instead of foreigners. Again some may not give a rat's behind about this but I do, personally. These are our brothers and cousins and mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers who need to make a living and that's getting harder to do every day in this country. Has nothing to do with the service, I will grant, just my view. And you may think well that doesn't affect me. Yes, it does affect you whether you know it or not. If people here have no money, they can't spend, and put money back into the economy which all of us are dependent upon. So whether you want to accept it or not it affects us all. Again my 2 cents.

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CS can be a disinguishing point to certain segments

Postby Iroquois » Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:05 pm

The Lexus Mercedes Chrysler analogy was intended to focus on the quality dynamic which seems very relevant: but yes is an imperfect analogy.

No doubt about it that if customer service is required (which hopefully is needed very infrequently) and that good communication and understanding is important. If the need for CS happens routinely then something may be broken which isnt being fixed and that may be a concern. Most overseas operations seem to do a reasonable job but the option is always available to ask to speak with a domestic based customer service rep.

In virtually all cases the issuer is an international entity that will seek the best productivity quality and cost where it can find it. Not only in CS but in even more important items, like which markets do they get the money to lend to pay for the customers transactions (even in the grace period) the root basis of the lending that bank credit card issuers do. But their business is about fundamentals like product, price and customers, so they have to be very aware that that are segments that who prefer to deal with cs that the customer feels most comfortable with. CS certainly appears to be something that can be differentiated but CS does not seem to be able to move market share or consumers in any meaningful way. Product and pricing moves customers and expense control / profitability and growth ultimately drives the credit card business and what they concentrate on.

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Postby hematino » Wed Aug 08, 2012 2:32 pm

I would rank companies I have personally dealt with accordingly:

1.) Discover - Customer service has been fantastic, every time. I've never had a bad experience yet. They are conservative about limits and things, but they are also willing to work with loyal customers. Functional and easy to use website. Only thing I would change about Discover is ditch the reward tiers and start right at 1% cash back like the Freedom and Dividend.

2.)PenFed - Superb customer service always, and their products rock too. I have a savings account, checking account, and credit card through them-- everything has been excellent. They were pretty generous with my limit and I like the way their website is set up. Great company to work with.

3.) Chase - Chase has also treated me just fine. Customer service has been more than willing to resolve any issue, and they assign pretty good credit limits. The rewards are outstanding too and probably the best for me of all the cards I deal with. Love me some Chase and look forward to dealing with them in the future.

4.) American Express - I'm really happy I'm in the door with American Express, I have had pretty good experiences with them too. It's been good but not the best like Discover or PenFed. Amex can be conservative with limits and stuff. Membership Rewards are not the best structure for me, but the cash back from the Blue Cash Preferred is unrivaled. Some of their practices seem questionable and/or bizarre, but overall I've had a good experience with them.

5.) FIA - They're decent, and have never had a CSR that didn't seem like they were genuinely trying to help me. FIA has a couple solid rewards cards they offer and they seem easier with limits than some. A step above mediocre.

6.) GECRB and Barclays - Both of these companies are okay and my own experience has them about equal. Barclays is way too sensitive about inquiries and get almost jealous about accounts their customers have with other banks. On the other hand , the reps are good about trying to get answers for questions and resolving issues. Their website isn't the best and could stand an overhaul. GE Capital has reps that seem a cut under Barclays, but they balance out in other ways. While their limits often start low, these cards can be counted on for auto CLIs fairly frequently as long as there is some sort of usage. Hasn't happened to me, but I have also heard others say they are about the same with decreases too when there isn't enough usage. On the positive side, they aren't really sensitive to inquiries and new accounts and the like.

7.) Citi - Reps are usually outsourced and not much help when there is an issue. It seems like different reps give different answers and no one really knows what answer is correct. Their website is not my favorite but it is easy to navigate. I have also been burned by Citi's flawed customer service years ago (their mistake, not mine), so I am really not their biggest fan. Thank You points are stingy in their value and redemption, and even the Dividend's straight cash back isn't perfect and lags behind Freedom and sometimes Discover More. On the plus side, Citi is pretty generous with their credit limits and good with increases. They are also willing to give a chance to college students and those with limited credit, much more so than other banks like Chase.

8.) First Financial Bank USA - Customer service is pretty bad. This is my first credit card, back from 2003, so I kind of have to keep it to anchor down my AAoA. Once in a while you will get an okay CSR, but at least 75% of the time you get someone that is completely unwilling to help you and in the worst cases, will be downright defensive and nasty. The website is a joke and forget about an online payment. They did increase my line of credit a few times when I was a college student. This was the card I got myself into a small pile of debt with (never made a late payment but the interest was ridiculous). It was 100% my fault, the trouble I got in with this card, but it did teach me the basics of the credit card game. I guess it did eventually help to build my credit up. They also permanently waived the annual fee for me when I opted out at the threat of closing the account (they initiated this fee a few years ago, it used to be free). The company doesn't even take new cardmembers anymore unless they are college students... that should be a red flag right there.

9.) Capital One - Terrible. The one positive is that Capital One will build credit with responsible use from an individual that desperately needs to boost their score. Their customer service is bottom of the barrel, they are not necessarily nasty and rude like reps I've had from the two preceding banks, but they do everything in their power to simply not help their customers. Credit limits are really stingy (though understandable considering they are subprime for 90% of their products), and there will be little to no CLIs. The customer service is the worst and most inept, period.

(Haven't dealt with US Bank much yet, so I don't feel right commenting on their service so far).
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Postby johnspence » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:47 am

According to me ranking factor for any company is “customer services”. After financial terms like fees and all most crucial part for making a company branded and trustable that it must have prompt customer service support for avoiding any inconvenience to customers.

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