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Consumers are once again feeling better about their overall finances as the effects of the recent recession fade, and that, in turn, may be what has led to another increase in satisfaction with their credit cards.

Overall consumer approval of their credit cards has grown significantly in each of the last three years, according to the latest J.D. Power and Associates U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, which is released annually. On a 1,000-point scale, satisfaction with these accounts increased to an average rating of 753, up from 731 last year and 714 in 2010. Now, the level is the highest seen since the study was created six years ago.

All of the factors considered to create the broader score saw higher levels of satisfaction, the report said. The largest — a 31-point increase — came as a result of consumers getting their account problems resolved more quickly, but satisfaction with rewards rose by 28 points as well.

“There has not been a lot of change in the past year in fees, credit limits and card terms — the things that often affect customers in a negative way,” said Jim Miller, senior director of banking services at J.D. Power and Associates. “After a series of dramatic changes, credit card customers are enjoying a time of stability.”

In all, just 11 percent of borrowers said they had any type of problem with their cards over the one-year period, the report said. That’s down from the 18 percent observed in 2009, and now well below the number of people who said their retail banks posed such an issue over the course of the last year.

And those who did have credit card problems largely had them resolved, the report said. In all, 84 percent said their issues were rectified by their lender, and 61 percent reported that this was completed the first time they contacted the financial institution. The most common such problem — reported by 24 percent of those who had an issue — was credit card fraud, but more than half of those consumers had the incidents brought to their attention by their lenders.

Because many borrowers changed their attitudes toward credit cards during and after the recession, lenders may now be more proactive in offering more beneficial accounts and generally improving customer service.

J.D. Power and Associates U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study customer satisfaction index for credit card issuers, based on a 1,000-point scale, with an industry average of 753:

  1. American Express — 807
  2. Discover Card — 799
  3. Chase — 762
  4. Barclaycard — 758
  5. U.S. Bank — 748
  6. Citi Cards — 737
  7. Wells Fargo — 737
  8. Capital One — 734
  9. Bank of America — 728
  10. GE Capital Retail Bank — 704
  11. HSBC — 703

Image: Kate Ter Haar, Flickr

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