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American Express top-rated in poll of credit card users

(Reuters) -- Consumers are more satisfied with their credit cards than they have been any time in the last six years, because banks have stopped jacking up fees and fiddling with other card terms, a consumer research firm said.

American Express Co was the top-rated U.S. credit card issuer for the sixth straight year, according to J.D. Power and Associates' annual credit card customer satisfaction study. A number of big banks were below average, including Capital One Financial Corp and Bank of America Corp.

But even companies at the bottom of the spectrum logged higher satisfaction ratings compared with last year, and the average increased as well, J.D. Power said.

"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.

Overall credit card satisfaction averaged 753 on a 1,000-point scale, up from 731 in 2011 and 714 in 2010. The score was the highest since the study began and on par with overall retail banking customer satisfaction. The company has performed the survey for six years.

American Express earned a score of 807, followed by Discover Financial Services (799) and JPMorgan Chase & Co (762). HSBC Holdings PLC received the lowest score (703).

Bank of America scored 728, and Capital One scored 734. Both banks have faced scrutiny recently for products they sold their credit card customers.

Bank of America this week said it would stop selling credit protection services which were the subject of a class action suit in which customers alleged they were charged without their permission and enrolled through deceptive practices.

Capital One last month reached a $210 million settlement with regulators over its sale of certain payment protection and credit monitoring products.

The J.D. Power study measures customer satisfaction with credit cards based on these factors: interaction; credit card terms; billing and payment process; rewards; benefits and services; and problem resolution. The study is based on responses from more than 13,726 customers.

J.D. Power, a marketing and research firm, is a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

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