^ Correct as of September 2023.
Compare credit cards from 16 providers, including:
 Correct as of September 2023.
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Check which credit cards you’re eligible for in less than 4 minutes , without harming your credit score.
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Types of credit card
There are several types of credit card to suit different situations, from life’s little emergencies, to big purchases or reducing monthly outgoings by consolidating debt.
The best credit card type for you depends on your circumstances and what you want to use it for. Here are some of the options.
0% on balance transfer cards – let you move debt from an existing card to one with lower interest.
0% on new purchase cards – charge no interest on new card spending for a fixed period.
0% on balance transfer and purchase cards – combine benefits for transfers and spending.
Reward cards – give you cashback, points, air miles or other rewards as you spend on your card.
Credit building cards – help build credit scores with careful spending and repaying.
Travel credit cards – come with low or 0% fees for use abroad and possibly favourable exchange rates.
Money transfer credit cards – can help to consolidate other debts via your bank account with lower interest rates.
Cashback credit cards – give a percentage of the amount you spend on the card back as an incentive to use it.
Whichever type of card you choose, make sure you understand any promotional offers – for example, the window available for 0% balance transfers – and what happens once the offer ends. And be clear about what happens if you miss a payment or make a late payment.
Make sure you fully understand any terms and conditions, so you can maximise the benefits available without paying a penalty.
How to choose the best credit card for you
Do you need to buy something expensive?
If you’re making a large purchase like a new sofa or boiler, a 0% purchase card allows you to spread the payment over a number of months without paying interest. But you’ll need to pay off at least the minimum amount each month and the outstanding balance before the 0% deal ends to avoid paying interest.
Do you want to pay off debt?
You can move debt from an existing credit card (or cards) onto a balance transfer credit card and pay no interest on what you move for a set period of time. But you could be charged a balance transfer fee – typically a percentage of the amount of money you want to move.
You’ll need to pay at least the minimum amount each month and outstanding balance before the 0% deal ends, or you’ll be charged interest.
Do you have a low credit score?
Credit builder cards can help you improve your credit score if you use them responsibly. They’re also a good option for anyone who’s just turned 18 or has no credit history.
In return for offering you a card, a provider will minimise their risk with low spending limits and higher interest rates. Once you’ve rebuilt your credit rating and shown you can borrow responsibly, you could consider a different type of credit card.
Do you want rewards for your spending?
If you always pay your credit card bill in full every month, a rewards credit card offers you a bonus for using it. Rewards can vary from points towards the cost of flights or money to spend in stores.
Cashback cards work in a similar way, but instead of points you get money direct into your bank account. Shop around to find the best credit card deal for you, but check that card fees don’t outweigh any rewards you get.
Find out if you’re eligible for a credit card
Our eligibility checker will show you cards you’re likely to be accepted for before you apply, without impacting your credit score.
On average it takes less than 4 minutes to check.
Applying for multiple credit cards and having the applications denied could damage your credit score. This is likely to make it harder for you to borrow money in the future.
 Correct as of September 2023.
How to apply for a credit card
Start by using our eligibility checker to see which cards you’re likely to be accepted for, without harming your credit score. You’ll need to provide:
Your personal details
UK address history
Annual salary and other income
Decide which credit card suits your needs, then click the apply button and you’ll be taken to the provider’s website to confirm your details and complete their application process. You’ll usually need to provide your bank account number and sort code.
See our guide on how to apply for a credit card for more information.
Compare the Market Limited acts as a credit broker, not a lender. To apply you must be a UK resident and aged 18 or over. Credit is subject to status and eligibility.
Can I get a credit card with a bad credit score?
While the best credit card deals are offered to borrowers with good credit records, it’s possible to get credit cards for bad credit. Just bear in mind that they often come with high interest rates and low credit limits.
Used responsibly, this type of card can help boost your credit score, meaning you could be eligible for a credit card with a better interest rate.
What is representative APR?
The representative APR is an advertised rate that at least 51% of successful credit applicants must be given.
APR – or annual percentage rate – is what your borrowing will cost you each year. It’s calculated by taking into account the rate of interest, plus other standard charges like an annual fee or balance transfer fee.
The APR helps you compare the true cost of credit cards from different providers. For example:
Purchase rate (variable): 22.2%
Annual fee: £250
Credit limit: £1,200
Representative APR (variable): 96.7%
Purchase rate (variable): 22.9%
Annual fee: £0
Credit limit: £1,200
Representative APR (variable): 22.9%
While the purchase rate for Card A is slightly lower, the impact the annual fee makes on overall costs can be seen in the representative APR.
Credit card pros and cons
- Can offer cheap borrowing – some cards will allow you to make purchases and pay no interest for an initial period. Others allow you to move credit card debt (for a fee) and pay no interest on the transferred balance for a set period.
- Can prove your creditworthiness – if you manage your card responsibly by making repayments regularly and on time, and not going over your credit limit, it will show lenders that you’re responsible with money.
- Can give you extra rewards on what you’d spend anyway – reward cards can give you cashback or rewards on your spending. You can be quids in as long as you pay your credit card bill in full every month.
- Give you extra protection on what you buy – under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act you could get a refund if something goes wrong with a purchase you make on a credit card over £100 and up to £30,000.
- Section 75 protection isn’t guaranteed – there isn’t an automatic legal right to receive money back through Section 75. It will depend on the circumstances, as well as the card issuer and the Mastercard or Visa scheme rules.
- Can offer temptation – people can get into serious debt by misusing credit cards. You should use them carefully, not spending more than you can afford to pay back. If you’re already struggling with debt, or can’t trust yourself not to spend up to the limit, then a credit card could add to your problems.
- Can incur penalties if not well managed – if you pay your card late or miss payments, you may be charged a fee. And you may lose any promotional offers, such as 0% interest on purchases. Late or missed payments could also damage your credit score, making it more difficult for you to borrow in the future.
What our expert says...
"If you can afford to, it’s always best to pay off your credit card balance in full every month. That way you’ll avoid having to pay interest. At the very least, you must make the minimum monthly payment. Setting up a direct debit payment could help ensure you pay on time."
- Alex Hasty, Insurance and finance expert
Frequently asked questions
What is a credit card?
A credit card offers a flexible way of spreading payments and paying debt.
Your credit card provider will lend you the money to make purchases or pay for services. That means the amount you spend using your card is a debt.
You’ll pay back the money you owe each month, either the full amount or in instalments with interest on top.
How do lenders decide whether to offer a credit card?
Lenders will look at a number of factors when deciding whether to offer you a card. These include:
Your income – you’ll need to give details of your annual salary and any other money you have coming in.
Your credit score – the lender will carry out a hard credit check to find out how trustworthy you’ve been in the past at paying back money you’ve borrowed.
The amount of debt you have – the lender will want to feel confident you can afford to pay back any money owed on your credit card.
Why might I be rejected for a credit card?
You may be rejected for a credit card because you have a poor credit score. Lenders will look at your score to see how likely you are to repay debt.
If you’ve been rejected for a card, wait at least three months before you apply again. Making multiple credit applications over a short period can damage your credit score further.
When you apply for a credit card, use our eligibility checker to see which cards you’re likely to be accepted for, without impacting your credit score.
Why should I pay off more than the minimum fee each month?
The more you pay off your credit card, the faster your debt will disappear. You’ll also pay less interest.
The minimum payment is the lowest amount you need to pay to avoid potential penalties. It’s usually calculated as a percentage of your balance and will fall as your balance reduces.
What can I use a credit card for?
You can use a credit card to make purchases, and pay for bills and services.
Using a credit card to withdraw cash can be expensive. You’re likely to be charged a higher interest rate than for purchases and interest will be added to your account as soon as you take out the cash.
Can I get a joint credit card?
You can’t get a joint credit card, but you can add an additional cardholder to your account. An additional cardholder can be a partner, family member or friend.
They’ll get their own card, but you’ll be fully responsible for any debt on that card and all the admin involved, so there are risks. It’s important that you trust your additional cardholder not to run up big debts.
What happens when a car hire company or hotel asks for my card up front?
Some companies ask for pre-authorisation to make sure they can collect the money owed to them if you don’t pay up.
The company puts a hold on some of your credit. While that’s in place, you won’t be able to spend that money elsewhere. For example, if your credit limit is £1,000 and a car hire company puts a pre-authorisation of £500 on your card, you’ll only be able to spend £500 more on your card.
Do interest rates change?
Most credit cards have a variable interest rate, which means the rate can go up or down at any time.
Providers have the right to change their interest rates when they want. And changes to the Bank of England base rate can also affect the interest rate on credit cards.
Can I withdraw a credit card application?
Yes, you have a 14-day cooling off period from when you receive your card to tell the provider you’ve changed your mind. There’ll be no penalty fee for withdrawing your application, but you’ll need to pay off any outstanding balance on the card within 30 days.
What happens if I miss a repayment on my credit card?
If you miss a repayment on your credit card, you’ll usually have to pay a penalty. You might also lose any introductory benefits, like 0% interest, and your credit score may also be damaged.
How can I get more credit?
You may automatically be offered a higher credit limit once you’ve proved yourself to be a responsible borrower by always repaying on time. Otherwise, you can contact your provider to ask for an increase, which you may or may not get.
Be aware that a requested increase will appear on your credit file, whereas an automatic one won’t.
Can I pay off my credit card early?
Unlike with many loans and mortgage debts, you normally won’t be charged any fees or penalties for paying off a credit card debt early.
How do I cancel a credit card?
To cancel your credit card, contact your credit card provider and let them know you want to close the account. You’ll need to pay off any balance left on your card.
The account may stay active for a few days to allow for any remaining transactions to come through. Once you receive your final statement, check it to make sure the last payments are shown and the balance is fully cleared.
Once the card is cancelled, cut through the number and name, and throw it away.
Does Compare the Market compare all the credit cards on the market?
Our credit card comparison service doesn’t include every single credit card available in the UK. That’s because some credit card providers have exclusives available through their own high-street branches or websites, or on other price comparison sites.
Plus, some credit cards are only available to people in clubs or membership organisations.
But we do have many credit cards for you to compare, from major banks and leading credit card providers.