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
Marks & Spencer Bank11

Further down the table we still saw some five star ratings. Lloyds Bank was a five-star performer for resolution rates, HSBC for its average time to resolve complaints while John Lewis Finance saw on average the quickest average response time across all the companies in our table.  

The bottom credit card providers 

Bringing up the rear of the credit card providers our users rated for issue resolution and service were Marks & Spencer Bank, Marbles and Aqua Card, which largely serves customers in need of improving their credit rating.

Marks & Spencer Bank, with a Resolver Rating of 11 scored one star ratings (out of five) across all but one of our performance indicators, meaning that compared to others in the table, it was one of the lowest rated by its customers. Aqua Card fared slightly better in performance compared to its competitors for ease of complaining, but was let down by the likelihood of its customers to recommend it, and its average resolution times.  

The Resolver Rating is made up of the relative performance rankings for companies across seven metrics. The end scores are a representation of relative performance versus other companies in the table above – in relation to the top score for each metric. 

The top performing scores or percentages for each of the seven metrics among the credit card providers in our table are:

      • Resolution time: 138.2 days; 
      • Response time: 19.2 days; 
      • Resolution rate: 83.3%;
      • Satisfaction: 5.5 / 10; 
      • Ease: 3 / 6; 
      • Feeling change: 2.7 / 7; and
      • Customer Advocacy Score (CAS) 5 / 10.

Our research

Our scores and the overall Resolver Rating (from 1 to 100) are drawn from the feedback of Resolver users, along with measures used to assess response and resolution times. But every bit of feedback has a story behind it and our data specialists analyse all the information in detail.

Every Resolver user is asked how satisfied they are with a company when a case is closed. Resolver requires a minimum of 30 customer feedback responses for a company for it to be included in our analysis. The Resolver Rating is made up of seven different measures of complaints resolution and service, those that according to our research are important to customers, which each individually assess how a company ranks relative to all other companies in the sector that are represented in our analysis.  To get five stars for one of our measurements, a company has to score within the top 20% of its category relative to the rest of the companies in our analysis.

Here’s our rundown of the seven measurements we use to calculate our Resolver Rating for issue resolution and service:

      • Response Time: the time it takes the company to provide an initial response to the customer (number of days – the lower the better)
      • Resolution Time: the time it takes to resolve the complaint (number of days – the lower the better)
      • Resolution Rate: the percentage of the company’s cases satisfactorily resolved from the consumer’s perspective (percentage of cases resolved)
      • Feeling Change: the change in a customer’s sentiment from the beginning to end of a case (rated from -7 to 7)
      • Ease: how easy it is to complain (rated from 0 to 6)
      • Consumer Advocacy Score (CAS): how likely the customer is to recommend a company (rated from 0 to 10)
      • Satisfaction: how satisfied the customer is with the company and how it has dealt with the complaint (rated from 0 to 10).

Resolver Recognised: credit card providers

Three providers mentioned in this feature qualify to be Resolver Recognised. Resolver Recognised is our scheme to help consumers find and choose companies that perform the best at putting things right when they go wrong, according to their own customers.

To qualify to be Resolver Recognised, credit card providers must achieve a Resolver Rating of 70 or more. Virgin Money, Halifax and Natwest all qualify for Resolver Recognised status.

Only those identified by their customers as truly proving time and again that they put things right with the service they should expect can become Resolver Recognised. When you see the Resolver Recognised logo, you can be confident that you will receive excellent service should you have the cause to raise an issue.

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