Corporate Insight’s Experience Benchmarks offer an in-depth look at the competitive landscape within a particular industry. These reports compare firms’ digital offerings to determine which provide the best current user experience, based on our 30 years of tracking the customer experience and surveys to determine what users actually want. Our latest are the Credit Card Experience Benchmarks.

For Credit Card, our research team issued two reports: one focused on desktop experiences from Credit Card firms and the other on mobile experiences. In these reports, we evaluated firms across seven weighted categories, broken down into a further 250 attributes. We assigned category weights according to data from a proprietary survey of credit card users to ensure our overall grades match user expectations. Fourteen leading card issuers were included in the analysis.

As part of the Benchmark, CI reviewed nine core digital journeys that card holders commonly take (e.g., looking up a transaction, making a payment, initiating a dispute). We also include the Design & Navigation category to assess the overall user experience.

These two benchmarking reports are available now. Here are some key takeaways from this year’s editions:

Leaders excel in essential aspects of digital experience, like transactions, payments and disputes

Our credit card benchmarking research reinforces a basic CI usability heuristic: sites and apps should satisfy users’ goals. Users don’t need revolutionary designs or bells and whistles from their credit card website or mobile app. They need to see their transaction history, pay their bill, and get help when something goes wrong. Correspondingly, leading firms in the Credit Card Experience Benchmark excel in the essential aspects of digital experiences—transactions, payments, and disputes—while offering serviceable supplementary features. Credit card firms looking to create a best-in-class experience should aim to shine in these core experiences first before building out eye-catching secondary offerings.

Bank of America, Chase and Citi fight it out for the top spots in both the desktop and mobile reports, with U.S. Bank also joining the fray with a second-place finish in the mobile report. These leading firms tended to excel in the basics across the benchmarking reports, while lacking any glaring weaknesses. Citi, for example, took first overall in the desktop report, by topping the Card Servicing and Design & Navigation categories and finishing no worse than fifth place (of 14) in any other individual category. Similarly, Chase finished first overall in the mobile report, excelling in Account Information and Profile & Settings and placing no worse than sixth in any individual category.

Lower scoring firms can take consolation in having a clear roadmap for improvement. Shoring up the functionality of their core offerings, the ones cardholders use most, like transactions and payments, will allow stronger areas to shine. A few key tweaks can propel this year’s mid-tier firms into next year’s leaders. This is particularly true on mobile, where lower scoring firms fall short of meeting user expectations, as seen below.

Mobile has room for improvement, as no firm reached the Leading tier

Even when accounting for the limitations of smaller devices, the mobile benchmarking report found that credit card mobile platforms still have significant room for improvement. No firm in the report finished in the highest possible tier for overall experience. Journeys available on both desktop and mobile were on average less impressive on mobile: For example, across all 14 firms, the average score for payments on mobile was 56 out of 100, compared to 65 out of 100 on desktop.

Apps are particularly important for attracting and retaining younger credit card customers, who prefer to use apps and log in more often than their desktop-first counterparts. According to our survey of over 3300 cardholders, 73% who prefer using the mobile app were Generation X or younger. Sixty-six percent of mobile app users said they log into the app multiple times per week, while just 43% of website users log into their card issuer’s site this often. Apps represent a frequent touch-point for younger users, and an area of opportunity for most credit card firms.

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Bank of America takes the lead in virtual assistants, but firms surprise on desktop

With the explosion of AI, virtual assistants emerge as an area of particular interest in this year’s Credit Card Experience Benchmarks. Advanced AI chatbots like ChatGPT promise to dramatically change the credit card support experience in years to come. For now, Bank of America remains a leader with its exemplary mobile VA, Erica. But other firms with less heralded VAs, like Discover and Synchrony, make appearances at the top when it comes to the best desktop VAs.

That said, customers aren’t yet begging for advanced chatbots from card issuers—only 28% of survey respondents rated access to chatbots as “very” or “extremely” important, compared to the 59% who said the same about live chat. Customers still prefer having access to a real person for complicated requests. As such, virtual assistants and chatbots do not heavily affect these benchmark rankings, remaining a part of the relatively less important Support category. This may change in the future.

Want access to the benchmarking reports? Use the contact form on this page to learn more about how the Credit Card Experience Benchmarks can improve your digital experience.

Julianna Sansevero

Julianna Sansevero is a senior analyst on CI's Bank and Credit Card research team.