Best Customer Service Credit Card
March 5, 2011 2:16 PM   Subscribe

I want a credit card with sterling customer service.

I want a credit card with superb customer service.

I do not care about "rewards" or "cash back" or any of that nonsense. I want a place that treats its customers right, not one that is trying to buy them off using merchants' money.

What I'd like:

* DO answer the phone right away when I call. I do not care what hemisphere the phone agent is in, but I would like her to have a voice I can easily understand.

* DO employ people with some intelligence that are empowered to solve problems.

* DO be polite.

* DO have online systems with high reliability, so that my browser is not spinning its wheels when I try to log in and so that I'm not getting "system unavailable, please try again later" messages in the middle of a workday.

* DO NOT try to sell me crap when I call. I do not want "credit protector" or other useless garbage. And if you do try to sell me crap, at least respect me when I say "no." (You can tell I've had issues with that.)

* DO NOT make asinine mistakes when dealing with fraud. (One issuer had an automated system call me to say "are these charges fraudulent?" Yeah, I said. The charges still showed up on my bill!)

I don't care about "rewards" and am willing to pay an annual fee up to $100. I would prefer Visa or Mastercard as these have the widest acceptance, but if you have great experiences with Amex or Discover that might be worth knowing because I am so tired of crappy customer service. I haven't had great experiences with credit unions and a coworker is suing the one I can currently join, but advice you can post on credit union credit cards might be useful to other folks. I'm not military so USAA or Navy Federal doesn't do me much good.

Oh, and I currently use credit cards due to the convenience when purchasing online and when traveling, because it makes it slightly easier to track expenditures, and because I don't want to use debit because then fraud will come straight out of my checking account. If anyone has suggestions on how I can keep the convenience and just ditch these cards, that would be welcome too.

So what credit card do you have that has great customer service?

posted by massysett to Work & Money (27 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've had a consistently good experience with Chase, and I have had them for 5 or 6 years. I have only had to call them a few times (I can only think of 2 at the moment, but I imagine I'm forgetting something) and they were extremely pleasant and easy to deal with. I have heard terrible things about their actual banking (checking/saving) services, but their credit card has been everything I've ever wanted in a card.
posted by sacrifix at 2:23 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was completely dead against amex for about 20 years... until my husband got me one. Best customer service EVER.

I was wrong. Love my amex card now. LOVE.
posted by jbenben at 2:23 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

DO employ people with some intelligence that are empowered to solve problems.


I don't know how often you've felt inclined to email your credit card company as soon as you hang up to say "thanks to [person] for handling things in such a smart, helpful way", but I've done that a couple of times with them.
posted by holgate at 2:23 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Amex Platinum Card comes with great service. And, if you're so lucky to be invited, their Centurion card assigns you a personal rep.
posted by ericb at 2:27 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You do not have to be associated with the military to be eligible for a USAA membership that provides credit cards (see "Other Individuals" here). They meet all your customer service points.
posted by Houstonian at 2:32 PM on March 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

American Express is the way to go. They once found me an English speaking emergency dentist when I was traveling in a country where I didn't speak the language, after the American embassy struck out.
posted by decathecting at 2:44 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Chase is ridiculous. I activated my card recently and had to sit through the phone rep reading a 5 minute script that included the line "Now, you seem like a cool person".

American Express FTW.
posted by the jam at 2:49 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Amex did a chargeback to the Massachusetts RMV for them double charging me for a ticket. It was painless. They also will overnight you a card anywhere in the world if you lose yours. I can't recommend them enough. (I had Blue Cash but I assume the costumer service stays the same or gets better)
posted by traco at 2:51 PM on March 5, 2011

posted by ihadapony at 2:55 PM on March 5, 2011

Joining in with the AmEx chorus. Most places take them nowadays, but I do carry a Visa as well just in case.

I can't guarantee that they meet every requirement you have, but their customer service has been uniformly awesome when I have had to deal with them. I've never had problems with their website, and they've even been generous with credit. When I have had to deal with them:

* I was robbed halfway through a 10-week trip in South America - the only thing I had left was the AmEx card I'd stuck under the insole of my boot. Naturally, it had been broken into 2 pieces by all the walking I'd done. I was able to get cash by going directly to the AmEx offices in Argentina. Later on, in Bolivia, their only representative was a travel agent, and she went out of her way to help me out.

* Broke my iPhone shortly after buying it. Got hassle-free refund through their purchase protection plan (that came free with the card).

* Got fees removed from my bill when I called to ask about them (according to the small print, it turned out I was wrong, but when I called asking for an explanation they still removed them)
posted by Metasyntactic at 3:00 PM on March 5, 2011

Yeah, American Express is very likely the best of the big card issuers for you. Certain of Citibank's annual-fee-carrying "premium" cards (Premier Pass, Chairman) also have dedicated customer service lines that are way more pleasant to deal with than the regular cards, though my experience over the last two years or so with them has been quite a mixed bag depending on who happens to pick up the phone. And Chase credit cards have pretty horrible customer service in my experience, though I like their rewards programs.
posted by RogerB at 3:02 PM on March 5, 2011

Amex Platinum is good, but the annual fee is $450, which is more than the OP says s/he wants. You can probably get that waived for the first year, and if you're, say, sharing the account with a spouse, then the bite is obviously only half as small. Also, there's a $200/yr travel-related perk - I think you can use it on baggage fees and the like. So if you fly a lot, that's money in your pocket right there.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 3:18 PM on March 5, 2011

Amex FTW. I've had nothing but good experiences, including prevailing in every charge-back complaint I've ever pursued.

However, it is helpful to have a visa or mastercard as backup, because some places don't take Amex.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:40 PM on March 5, 2011

Another vote for Amex, though technically I use their charge card, not their credit card. It means I pay in full each month, which helps me stay out of trouble. Every 20 thousand points I go on-line and have them put $100 against my bill (it's hard to find, but if you keep at it in their reward site you can find the option). Recently while traveling, my card wouldn't work at a small gas station I stopped at down said "See Cashier"...the cashier had no idea what the deal was but as I walked back to the pump my cell phone rang and it was Amex just checking that it was still me in possession of my card...very pleasant conversation, card then worked).

As a backup, when I need an actual "credit" card or when Amex i not accepted I use CitiBank MasterCard, which I like because they have the Virtual Card feature that lets me requests special use credit card numbers with limited dollar amounts and expirations, so that I can order on-line and my real plastic card number and expiration is never stored in the merchant's database. In my opinion better than PayPal if the merchant accepts MasterCard.

My 2 cents.
posted by forthright at 4:15 PM on March 5, 2011

Amex's car rental insurance alone makes the card worth it for me. For an extra $24.95, it becomes the primary insurance when you rent a car with your Amex. This saved us over $800 when we scratched up a car while driving in European cities built before straight streets were a recognized good -- no questions, no hassle, consummate professionalism.

Also, the Amex Blue has no annual fee. They try to sell me services once in a while, but it doesn't even take a firm "no" to make them stop when I"m on the phone.
posted by joyceanmachine at 4:26 PM on March 5, 2011

I have multiple cards from each (American Express, Visa, Mastercard & Discover) because I find them useful in different ways: Visa for their ubiquity, Mastercard & Discover because I like their one-time-use credit card apps, and American Express when I want to stick it to a merchant I don't like but am forced to shop at for one reason or another (ex: BestBuy or Walmart) because I know Amex charges the merchant higher transaction fees.

Frankly, I've found the customer service just about equal between Amex, Visa & Mastercard -- Discovercard let me down in a dispute with a dishonest merchant once so they're kind of on my shit list -- so you might want to get one of each and put them to the test. Try them all and see which company meshes best with your needs. I pay my bills off every month so they're not making any interest off me, but the customer service from all three is still very good. If I had to choose just one though, I'd go with Amex because filing a dispute online with them is a piece of cake and their follow-up is excellent; Visa, Mastercard and Discovercard are more of a hassle and they're all rather obnoxious when trying to push other products and services on you.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 4:37 PM on March 5, 2011

Amex. I know you said you don't care about rewards/cash back, but I have the Amex Gold Rewards Plus card which I share with my wife - the fee is $150, so technically $75 per person (and I can add more people at no extra cost. Here's the point - I put a lot of my expenses on this card, and I accumulate points. The point count is updated monthly, and it gives you the option to select bills you want to pay for with those points. So every month I have some small position for $10-$30 taken off my bill with my points. By the end of the year it covers my $150 annual fee completely, and in fact I come out ahead by a small amount. So, the $150 should not stop you, assuming you put on enough charges.

In my experience, it's Amex has the best customer service of any card, and in particular, their international presence is good, so they are not as flummoxed by you calling them from abroad as some more parochial cards are wont to do.

They'll have your back in merchant disputes, are useful when renting a car, dealing with airlines/baggage loss claims, plus you get a nifty extension of warranties on a lot of merchandise (I buy all my electronic goods with my AmEx).

As for negatives. Yes, on occasion they'll try to sell you stuff, but I never found them insistent and a quick "thanks, not interested" gets them back on track soon enough. And sadly, on occasion they do have a stupid habit of their online service becoming unavailable at random times - though I have not seen that problem in the last few months.
posted by VikingSword at 4:44 PM on March 5, 2011

Diners Club is also good and it is now backed by Mastercard so has wide acceptance.
posted by rtimmel at 6:10 PM on March 5, 2011

USAA. Had it for more years than I care to count. Never had a problem
posted by psc1860 at 6:40 PM on March 5, 2011

I have a USAA credit card and their customer service is consistently exceptionally helpful, efficient, and friendly. No annual fees or anything like that.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:47 PM on March 5, 2011

If you are a Costco member, and everything people say about AmEx is true, get an AmEx card through Costco, simply because you DO get rebates on everything and the interest is about average (though thanks heavens we pay ours in full every month). I've never had a need to use their customer service, but I would expect nothing but the best. Their website is just what a website should be, I've never had a hitch on it.
posted by lhauser at 9:15 PM on March 5, 2011

Confirming that it's true you can join USAA without being in the military - thanks to Houstonian for the link: You do not have to be associated with the military to be eligible for a USAA membership that provides credit cards (see "Other Individuals" here) I just did!
posted by anadem at 10:45 PM on March 5, 2011

AMEX has excellent customer service on both Gold and Platinum. I tend to put expenses and large household items on it. Had a kettle that died after 4 months, rather than fight with the manufacturer or Target, I called AMEX and instant credit back. Their warranty protection usually doubles the manufacturer warranty period.
Also, they have quickly resolved a case of fraud for me in a matter of hours, in big contrast to my credit union visa where it took weeks and sworn affidavits in the bank.
posted by arcticseal at 5:28 AM on March 6, 2011

I too have a no annual fee AMEX card through Costco. Love it.
posted by imjustsaying at 5:50 AM on March 6, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the Amex votes, and I didn't know I could get a USAA card. I will take a look at both.
posted by massysett at 7:51 AM on March 6, 2011

Or, you could get an Amex card from USAA.
posted by Houstonian at 9:16 AM on March 6, 2011

American Express
posted by WizKid at 8:39 PM on March 6, 2011

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