Credit where credit’s due: the top card providers

7 min read
April 08, 2021

Resolver reveals the top credit card providers for putting things right

Credit cards, for the millions of us that use them, have been a mainstay method of paying for our goods and services for years – but this is likely to have been even more pronounced during 2020. Paying by cash has been far from preferred – in some cases stopped – at some outlets, while the demand for shopping online has meant credit cards would have become a preferred method of payment given the protection you often get should something go wrong with your transaction.

Add to this the number of people who have turned to their credit card provider to help with paying back debt through taking payment holidays or organising payment plans to try and ease potential financial worries, and it’s clear companies have been called on more to assist those with real concerns throughout the pandemic. 

But which credit card providers showed that they could offer their customers top class service when issues or complaints were raised, prompting higher levels of satisfaction, and more positive feedback on the ease of making that complaint?

Resolver can reveal its top and bottom credit card providers for issue resolution and service, compared to their competitors, after analysing more than 11,700 cases raised throughout 2020. Our research – driven by feedback from customers – covers everything from satisfaction with how issues have been resolved, how easy customers felt it was to raise an issue and how long it took to respond to and ultimately resolve customer complaints.

Take a look at our table of more than 15 credit card providers to help you choose and use the providers that are top of the class for putting things right when they go wrong.

Credit card issues during 2020

Over the course of 2020, charges, fees and cancellations and sales-related complaints accounted for four in 10 of the total made to credit card companies. But this really only tells part of the story of the picture of complaints.

Average response and resolution times increased as the year went on, reaching a peak at the time restrictions began to ease, before dropping but then rising more sharply at the end of the year. In contrast however, customer ratings for satisfaction with how complaints were resolved actually rose among credit card companies as lockdown began and Covid-19 hit the UK, compared to the start of 2020.

‘Customer service cases to credit card firms hit their peak when lockdown restrictions were lifted last year’

Before the pandemic took hold, charges, fees and cancellation issues accounted for the main bulk of complaints made to credit card firms, making up 45% of the total submitted in January. But as the year continued, the proportion of complaints made about these issues dwindled, and by the end of the year were overtaken by sales-related complaints and those explicitly referencing customer service problems. 

In fact, customer service cases about credit card card companies hit their peak in the months when restrictions were lifted last year, between August and October 2020. This is likely to have been attributed to increased contact by customers following either the extended application of or termination of payment holidays, or those that were struggling to get hold of their lender to discuss issues with their finances. Sales issues also saw a rate of growth, but this continued through the year, hitting the most monthly complaints in December.

As fraud and scam-related issues have been hitting the headlines recently, we also looked at these types of cases made using Resolver specifically to credit card providers. While these have grown over the year by a third from 2019, they remained relatively consistent in number month-on-month, with a number mentioning scam-related incidents and asking their provider for assistance.

Resolver’s top credit card companies for issue resolution

Virgin Money tops our table of credit card providers with an impressive Resolver Rating of 88. Its convincing performance compared to its competitors includes five stars out of five for resolution and response times, satisfaction from its customers about how their issues were resolved, and the ease in raising and resolving those issues. Virgin Money was also the top scoring performer across our table of results for ease, satisfaction and the change in a customer’s feelings from the start to the end of the complaint. 

‘Halifax scored five stars for the rate at which it resolved complaints, and joined Virgin Money as a five-star rated company for satisfaction’

Also occupying the podium positions in our roll call of top card provider are Halifax and Natwest with Resolver Ratings of 76 and 70 respectively. Halifax, unlike the rest of our top three credit card companies, scored five stars for the rate at which it resolved complaints, and joined Virgin Money as one of the five-star rated credit card companies for satisfaction, among others. One of its customers told us that Halifax’s “comprehensive document handling” resulted in a “good outcome”.

Meanwhile Natwest stood out for its ease to contact and complain, according to its customers, with one commenting that once evidence had been submitted, “payout was quick”.

Credit card providers: Resolver Rating

Advocacy Score
Virgin Money88
Lloyds Bank67
John Lewis Finance58
American Express55
Sainsbury's Bank48
Vanquis Bank42
Capital One35
Tesco Bank30
Aqua Card25