Nothing irks credit card users more than a high annual fee.

According to a study released this week by the marketing analytics firm Bug Insights, the annual fee is by far the No. 1 reason card users would change providers.

The Woodlands, Texas, firm surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,031 consumers about their card-use habits and explored which drivers would spur them to switch to new cards. Sixty-four percent said that the amount of the annual fee would lead them to switch, 13% said they'd be most enticed by rewards programs and 8% cited the annual percentage rate as the top reason for switching. Only 1% rated the brand of the card as an important factor.

"The Bug Insights study found that providing fewer rewards to customers and reinvesting those dollars into decreasing the annual fee, would increase both customer preference and gross profit for providers," Tim Glowa, co-founder and partner at the firm, said in a news release Thursday.

The study also found that four out of five consumers have at least one credit card, but among these respondents 80% said they never switched their credit card to a new provider.

Although 77% of respondents said they were satisfied with their primary cards and 63% are content with card-generated rewards, less than half said they felt loyal to their providers.

Bug Insights also found that two large demographic groups had distinct preferences. Twenty-nine percent of middle-aged respondents, mainly middle-income Generation Xers and baby boomers, are concerned more with rewards and card brand, and 56% of women from middle-income households are more sensitive to monthly costs and less so to card-related benefits.

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