(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Consumers love their plastic.

Overall satisfaction with credit cards is up for the fifth year, according to a survey released Thursday by J.D. Power, a market research firm. It surveyed about 20,000 credit card customers between September 2013 and May, asking how they felt about their credit card terms, rewards, benefits and other factors. Satisfaction reached an all-time high with a rating of 778 on a scale of 1,000, up from 767 last year.

Satisfaction dropped after the financial crisis when consumers who had lost jobs fell behind on payments. Credit cards also increased interest rates and tightened their standards for who would qualify.

But since then, consumers have grown more comfortable with plastic. Credit card debt is on the rise, but people are getting smarter about how they use cards. More people are paying them off in full and delinquencies are declining.

Jim Miller, senior director of banking services at J.D. Power, says more consumers are using plastic to take advantage of rewards programs. Card issuers are also taking steps to make it easier for people to redeem those points by sending customers e-mails reminding them how much they’ve earned and  highlighting examples of the ways people might be able to cash in reward points, especially for programs focused on travel.

When it comes to the card issuers, this was the first year that Discover tied with American Express for the top spot. Discover’s satisfaction scores have been climbing thanks to better customer service online, on the phone and through mobile apps — efforts the company has advertised with funny ads, Miller says. American Express, which does a good job of offering products tailored to different types of consumers, has held the top spot for several years, he says.

(J.D. Power)


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