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The credit card has been making more friends this year, particularly with American customers, finds J.D. Power and Associates. For the third year in a row, the research firm has found that credit card customers are increasingly satisfied with their credit cards, and for the sixth year in a row, American Express tops the list in providing the most satisfying credit card experience.

The J.D. Power survey covers six topics consumers value when using their cards: interaction, card terms, the billing and payment process, rewards, other benefits and services and problem resolution. The survey combines these measures into an overall point scale ranking to 1,000.

This year, overall credit card satisfaction rose 22 points to 753. This is the third year in a row customers have felt better about their credit cards, with this year's total being a 39-point improvement over 2010. This year's results also put the credit card industry back to levels of satisfaction not seen since J.D. Power started the survey.

"There has not been a lot of change in the past year in fees, credit limits and card terms—the things that often affect customers in a negative way," said Jim Miller, senior director of banking services at J.D. Power and Associates, in a statement. "After a series of dramatic changes, credit card customers are enjoying a time of stability.

While all topics in the study showed signs of improvement, credit card companies are making the most headway in the area of problem resolution. This category increased by 31 points over 2011. Category improvement occurred in terms of customers experiencing problems with their cards and with the length of time it takes to resolve these problems.

11 percent of people did report having issues with their credit cards, down from 18 percent in 2009. The average resolution time of four days decreased one day compared to last year, and 84 percent of customers with problems had them resolved, 61 percent of which were fixed during the customer's first contact with the card company. Credit card representatives have also been better about providing realistic time frames for resolving issues.

"Although credit card companies have been criticized for some of their business practices, when we look at overall customer satisfaction, they're doing a good job," said Miller. "It is evident in the 2012 study that credit card companies have really done a great job in handling problems and achieving quicker resolution."

Once again, American Express topped the list for customer satisfaction, with an overall score of 807, edging out Discover Card at 799 points and third-ranked Chase, with 762 points. HSBC ranked last in the list of 11 card companies, with an overall score of 703.

“While our goal is to satisfy our customers, and not to get awards, we are thrilled to have received this terrific recognition every year since 2007,” said Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and chief executive officer, American Express, in a statement.

What does American Express have that keeps customers so happy? For starters, the company has a system called Relationship Care that its customer service representatives use to build relationships with customers and resolve disputes. This system helps American Express leap to the top of the survey results with It comes to live and automated phone interaction.

Through this Relationship Care system, American Express has invested money in dispute resolution and customer service training. It has also developed mobile apps that give access to exclusive events and cardmember offers. The apps also have information about card benefits and account information.

"Some things never get old, and hearing from your customers that you are doing a great job is definitely one of them,” said Jim Bush, executive vice president, World Service, American Express, in a statement. “Service is one of the hallmarks of the American Express brand, and it’s gratifying to hear how customers value the work our teams, including our front line employees, do each and every day to deepen customer relationships through service.”