More than a third of credit card users say they are either unaware of or do not completely understand the benefits associated with their cards, according to the J.D. Power 2013 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The study shows 59% of consumers said they completely understand their card rewards, a decrease from 66% in 2012.

Jim Miller, senior director of banking services at J.D. Power, characterized the statistics in a news release:

“Customers who use their card’s benefits spend an average of $400 more per month on their card, compared with those who are aware of benefits but do not use them, so clearly this is an area of importance to card issuers.”

The study also found a majority — 53% — of consumers did not completely understand the terms of their credit cards. Of that group, 73% said they were unclear about interest rates and 31% said they didn’t understand late payment fees. 

Satisfaction Increases

J.D. Power has measured customer satisfaction with credit cards since 2007, analyzing six components: interaction; credit card terms; billing and payment; rewards; benefits and services; and problem resolution.

For the fourth consecutive year, the study shows an improvement in satisfaction with a score of 767 on a 1,000-point scale. The score in 2012 was 755.

In terms of the highest-scoring providers, American Express maintained its 7-year streak in the top spot with 816 points, as a result of its strength in rewards and benefits and services, the release said.

Discover is second with 812 points, and Chase is third with 783 points.

Taking advantage of credit card rewards and benefits provides great value to consumers. Things like car rental insurance are some of the top credit card perks that you may not be able to get with other types of plastic such as prepaid cards or debit cards.

Understanding how a credit card’s programs work can help consumers spend more effectively, and matching a card to a consumer’s financial needs is the first step.

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