Balance transfer offers aren't the only reason consumers switch credit card issuers. According to a new report from the Temkin Group, Americans can hold a grudge when a bank makes a mistake, often resulting in switched accounts. The company's annual Temkin Forgiveness Ratings report ranked over 200 businesses based on whether customers would let a problem slide. Three of the nation's largest credit card issuers landed at the bottom of the list, while credit unions and an insurance provider with banking services earned the report's top slots.
Citigroup, HSBC, U.S. Bank, and Bank of America faced the harshest criticism from consumers, with Citi falling farther down the forgiveness scale this year than any of its banking competitors. However, the news wasn't all bad for credit card issuers, since the industry enjoys one of the widest margins between lowest and highest scoring companies.
At the top of the 2012 Temkin Forgiveness Ratings, USAA and credit unions enjoy the coziest relationships with their customers. Though primarily known as an insurance carrier catering to military families, USAA also offers its own range of low interest credit cards. The company extends Visa, MasterCard, and American Express credit cards to members who pass a careful vetting process. American Express, Discover, and Wells Fargo rounded out the list of credit card issuers earning higher forgiveness scores than the industry average.
The Temkin Group included "credit unions" as a collective for the purposes of comparing customer opinions in relation to familiar brands. Non-profit lenders ranked highly on Temkin's scale, reflecting the impact of member-owned products and services. Survey respondents said they'd generally stay loyal to credit unions after a financial or customer service error.
Credit unions themselves may not be able to forgive Bank of America by the end of this year. In late 2011, the bank's credit card servicing division announced plans to stop managing credit union Visa and MasterCard accounts. Bank officials stated that they preferred the strategy of deepening relationships directly with consumers instead of servicing accounts for other institutions.