As promised, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published its live database of credit card complaints registered with the bureau's toll free hotline and website. The raw data includes the name of the issuer, the broad topic for each complaint, and a flag indicating whether the credit card company resolved the complaint.
Independent researchers have enhanced the data by comparing the list of complaints against credit card issuers' market share. Initial news reports highlighted the credit card issuers racking up the most complaints: Capital One and Citigroup. However, according to banking industry analyst Ken Thomas, only one of those two credit card issuers has really earned a place on the "worst" list.
As reported by Time Magazine, Thomas ranked credit card issuers based on the number of CFPB complaints in relation to the overall number of customers each bank serves. Though Citibank racked up about 18 percent of the complaints included in Thomas' review, the company's 20 percent market share puts the figure in line with expectations.
On the other hand, Capital One's 8 percent market share doesn't align with its standing as the issuer with the most complaints. Still, Thomas ranked regional bank SunTrust as the "worst" credit card company based on his survey of 13,502 consumer reports. Despite collecting only 45 complaints, its relatively small market share put SunTrust's customer satisfaction ratio far out of balance with its competitors.
Thomas' list of companies with complaints exceeding their market share includes:
- TD Bank
- GE Capital
- Capital One *
- Barclaycard US
Companies faring best in Thomas' analysis include both major credit card issuers and specialty credit unions:
Thomas' ranking did not take into consideration Capital One's acquisition of HBSC's American credit card portfolio earlier this year. However, his analysis did reveal that the 18 largest credit card issuers comprised 98 percent of the complaints submitted by consumers since the CFPB started accepting reports.
*Editor's note: HSBC's complaints, but not market share, were included in Capital One's ranking. If HSBC's market share had been included, Capital One would have ranked better.