Frequently asked questions
What sort of credit card can I get?
If you’re looking at getting a credit card (maybe it's your first card), you’ll quickly discover that there’s a huge choice out there – which one you go for depends what you want from the card and your spending habits.
You can choose from reward cards that give you back treats and perks – such as air miles, vouchers or cashback – whenever you use your card to buy something. Reward cards work on the principle of ‘spend more, earn more’ (although some have caps on how much you can earn, particularly cashback cards), but you need to ensure the rewards you’ll get are worthwhile for you. Find out more in our guide to reward cards.
Also popular are credit cards that don’t charge interest for balance transfers or new purchases – some cards offer both. The interest-free offers are usually for a limited time, ranging from one month to more than two years. You might want to consider one of these cards if you have an existing debt that you want to reduce or if you know you have some expensive purchases coming up. You’ll be able to spread the cost of what you owe without the added burden of paying back interest (but always make sure you know when the interest-free period ends and pay off the minimum amount each month to avoid charges).
You can also opt for low APR cards that have a consistently low interest rate for the life of the card. Some of these cards will also offer you zero interest, but typically this will be for a very limited period (usually between one and three months).
Which provider should I choose?
Credit cards are available from traditional banks and building societies, high-street retailers, supermarkets and some well-known or specialist brands. There are also specific providers dealing in credit building cards.
Ultimately, you should base your choice of card on what you get out of it overall, rather than simply who the provider is – although this could be a key factor if you’re choosing between rewards cards. Here’s what you might want to consider about each type of provider.
Credit cards from banks or building societies?
If you have a savings or current account, it can make sense to go for a credit card issued by the same bank or building society. The main advantage is that if you bank online or via a mobile app, you’ll be able to manage your accounts and credit card in one place.
Apart from convenience, many bank issued credit cards will also offer benefits such as zero interest on balance transfers or new purchases, or even both. Some also offer cashback rewards that are credited to your current account or card at the end of the month. Most of these cards will come from familiar banks and building societies, such as Halifax, Santander, NatWest, Lloyds, Barclays, Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale and Yorkshire.
Credit cards from high-street favourites and supermarkets
These cards are often reward based. Some are linked to air miles schemes, such as Avios and Virgin’s Flying Club, while others are affiliated with certain stores, including Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and the John Lewis and Waitrose Partnership.
You can also get supermarket-associated cards, which include Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda. These cards usually reward you with points, and when you’ve accrued enough points, they’re converted into vouchers or sometimes cashback off your shopping.
Credit cards from well-known organisations or specialist brands?
A number of cards fall under this category and they broadly offer something for everyone – whether that’s rewards, cashback or 0% interest. But on top of that, they usually have additional perks. For example, some cards may offer no fees on purchases made abroad – if you travel a lot, this is worth considering.
Some cards have a very particular audience in mind, such as the Saga credit card. Aimed at the over 50s, it offers discounts on Saga-branded holidays and resorts. Similar offerings come from Virgin Money, where you can benefit from exclusive offers or cashback from a network of participating brands.
Credit building cards?
If you’re struggling to get credit in the first place, then don’t worry – there are cards that can help you build up your credit rating. Credit building cards are usually offered by specialist lenders such as Marbles, Vanquis, Aqua and Black Diamond. But you’ll also find a limited range from more familiar names, such as Barclaycard, Capital One and Tesco.
The spend limit on this type of card is typically between £100 and £1,500, although if you manage your credit account sensibly, then this limit could be increased incrementally.
Some card providers also offer text messaging services or email alerts to tell you when a bill needs paying, with the aim of helping you to keep on top of your finances. If this sounds like the type of card that could work for you, then find out more in our guide to credit building cards.
Comparing credit cards
With so much on offer, we’ve tried to make comparing credit cards as easy as possible.
You can browse by card type, representative APR or rewards on offer, we show you the key features of each card. So start comparing credit cards today.