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Credit card issuers do a relatively poor job providing their customers with useful financial-education tools when compared with offerings from stock-brokerage, mutual-fund and investment firms, according to a recent report from Corporate Insight Inc. The New York-based marketing and consulting firm in July reviewed 11 major U.S. credit card issuers' online financial-education materials and compared them with those of other financial-service industries. JPMorgan Chase & Co. provided the most useful credit card education information, followed by Citigroup Inc. Both offered information segmented to specific customer groups with interactive tools and quizzes about budgeting for credit card expenditures, managing and paying off card debt, and understanding credit reports and credit scores, the firm found. Discover Financial Services also offered "notable" consumer financial-education tips. Bank of America Corp., HSBC Holdings PLC and Wells Fargo & Co. were in the middle of the pack with "basic" credit card education materials. American Express Co., Capital One Financial Corp. and Barclays PLC offered "minimal educational resources" online for their credit card products and Web sites that were "more promotional than educational," according to the report. Most issuers CardLine contacted declined to comment on the study. Several noted their longstanding commitment to consumer financial-education tools, which in many cases they say research has shown their usefulness to consumers. Although consumer credit card defaults hit record highs this year, "most credit card issuers' online credit-education offerings are largely disappointing and lag behind those of other types of financial services," James McGovern, Corporate Insight vice president of consulting services, tells CardLine. Though most credit card firms are "not doing enough" to help their customers avoid mistakes costly to individuals and issuers, the tougher economy and fiercer competition may force laggards to improve their offerings, the report notes.

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