Though banks are getting poor marks by consumers because of the credit crunch, research from Boston-based market-research company Kadence Business Research suggests the credit card brands are faring better. Consumers ranked more than half of the 22 brands examined from the financial sector in the lowest 100 out of 653 brands, Kadence's Milestones survey results show. However, Visa Inc., MasterCard Worldwide and American Express Co. ranked much higher. The Milestone study is a collaboration involving market-research agencies Kadence, Bucks County, Penn.-based Brand Care LLC and United Kingdom-based So What Research Ltd. The firms conducted the online survey of 5,500 educated and affluent consumers ages 18 to 54 during the pre-holiday shopping period in December. Visa and MasterCard ranked 79th and 242nd respectively, while American Express ranked 241st. Comparatively, Citigroup Inc. ranked 604th, Bank of America Corp. ranked 569th and JPMorgan Chase & Co. ranked 487th, the survey found. Consumers may have favored card brands in the survey because they relied on them to make purchases during the holidays, Brand Care President John Morton tells CardLine.