Credit cards

Compare credit card deals and check your eligibility [1]

  • Find out which credit cards you’re eligible for
  • Your details will be used for a soft credit search
  • This will not affect your credit rating

How do credit cards work?

Credit cards can provide you with a convenient and flexible solution for borrowing money - providing you with a way to buy goods and services and pay for them later.

When you take out a credit card, you’ll be given a credit limit - this is the maximum amount that you’re allowed to spend using the card.

You’ll also be set a minimum amount that you’ll need to pay off each month.

If you pay off your monthly balance in full you won’t be charged any interest. But if you only pay part of what you owe, the remaining amount is carried over to the next month and you’ll be charged interest on the whole balance.

Young adult woman looking at her phone and laptop with her credit card

What types of credit card are there?

There’s a range of credit cards available which are designed to suit different needs and purposes.

The most popular types include:

Cashback and reward cards

Earn rewards or cashback each time you use your card. You can build up points to redeem at your favourite stores or get paid a percentage back to your account, so you can earn money as you spend

0% purchase cards

Designed to be used for shopping and big purchases, this type of card can help you spread out the cost of your spending. It provides an interest-free period that can last from several months to more than a year

Find out more about interest-free credit cards.

Balance transfer cards

Can be used to consolidate debt, you can move your existing credit card balance to a new balance transfer card. These cards let you pay off what you owe with 0% interest for a set period, helping you to clear your debts more quickly

Money transfer cards

If you need a quick cash loan, a money transfer card can move funds straight into your bank account at 0% interest for up to 18 months. You’ll need to make at least the minimum payments each month

Air miles credit cards

Earn travel perks and rewards like air miles and Avios points, and benefit from discounted travel-related services and flights. These cards often come with a high annual fee and minimum spend amounts, so they’re not right for everyone

Travel credit cards

Making purchases on your card when you’re abroad can incur hefty fees. Travel credit cards can make it cheaper and more convenient for you to spend when you’re away

Credit building cards

If you have a low or poor credit history, these cards can help you build your credit score. Paying the monthly repayment in full and on time each month will show lenders you’re reliable and help you access better credit options in the future

What type of credit card is best for you?

Different credit cards are designed for different needs, so which card is best will depend on what you want to achieve and what you plan to use the card for.

You can use a balance transfer credit card to consolidate your debts onto one card with a low or no-interest period which can help you clear the balance more quickly.

If you’re planning to buy something expensive, like a car or new boiler, a 0% credit card can help you spread the cost out over several months without needing to pay interest.

Whereas if you’re able to pay off your balance in full every month, you can actually save money by using a reward card to earn loyalty points, air miles or cashback as you spend.

Ultimately, you’ll need to consider what your goal is and what you can afford to pay back. Then you can compare different credit card providers to find the best deal.

What are the advantages of having a credit card?

Some of the benefits of using a credit card include:

  1. Purchase protection

    You’ll be covered by buyer protection on card purchases between £100 and £30,000, which can help you claim your money back if there’s a problem

  2. Earning rewards

    There are plenty of cards available that will earn you rewards, travel perks and cashback as you spend

  3. Building your credit rating

    Using your card in the right way can help you build a positive credit history and increase your future chances of accessing better credit deals

  4. Protection against credit card fraud

    If your card details fall into the wrong hands, your credit card provider can help put things right and return any lost money to you

  5. Going interest-free

    There are plenty of cards available that offer 0% interest for balance transfers and provide interest-free periods for new purchases

  6. Being prepared for emergencies

    A credit card can be more convenient than taking out a loan and can provide some breathing space if you’re faced with an unexpected cost

How do I compare credit cards?

There are plenty of options to choose from, but it’s important you find the right card for your needs.

  1. Use our smart search and browse your options

  2. Provide your contact details

    Your name, date of birth and email address

  3. Let us know where you live

    Tell us whether you’re a homeowner and how long you’ve lived at your address

  4. Tell us about your finances

    We’ll need to know your employment status and annual income

Can I get a credit card if I have a bad credit score?

A poor credit score can make it much harder for you to be accepted for a credit card.

However, all is not lost, as some providers offer credit builder cards that have been designed for exactly this situation.

Using a credit-building card can help to show that you’re able to make regular repayments and rebuild your credit score.

To boost your credit rating, you’ll need to pay off your balance in full, stay well within your credit limit and not build up a large amount of debt.

Are there any downsides to using a credit card?

While credit cards can offer great flexibility and benefits, there are some drawbacks you’ll need to consider before you take out a card.

The disadvantages include:

The potential for debt

A credit card can create the temptation to overspend, with you buying more than you can afford to pay off and needing to pay interest on top of this

Damaging your credit score

Missed repayments, going over your credit limit, and having ongoing debt can all negatively affect your credit rating

High interest rates

Credit card rates vary, but once any interest-free period ends you could end up being stung with a high rate making your debt much harder to clear

Fees and charges

From annual fees to late payment charges, you’ll need to consider whether a credit card is worth the extra costs you might need to pay

Charges for withdrawing money

Using your card to take out money will incur a high rate of interest straight away, even if you’re still in an interest-free period

What’s the difference between a soft and hard credit check?

When you use an eligibility checker it uses what’s called a soft search on your credit history.

This means it doesn’t leave a trace on your credit report that lenders will be able to see, even if the check shows you’re unlikely to be approved for certain cards.

When you make an application for a credit card, lenders will do an in-depth inspection of your credit report to understand your financial behaviour - this is called a hard credit check.

Each hard check is recorded on your credit report, so if you make several credit card applications within a short amount of time, this could signal to lenders that you’re struggling to manage your finances.

Will I be accepted for a credit card?

This will depend on several factors including your age, income, financial situation and your credit score.

You’ll usually need to be over 18 to qualify and meet income requirements.

And lenders will also use your credit history and score to decide whether your application is approved.

Be aware that every application you make is logged on your credit report and if lenders see you’ve applied for several cards in a short timeframe this can raise a red flag.

To avoid this, it’s best to use an eligibility checker first - this will tell you which cards you’re most likely to be accepted for without affecting your credit rating.

Getting the most from your credit card

Credit cards are a flexible and convenient way to manage your spending, and you can maximise the benefits by using them in the right way:

  1. Use the interest-free period

    If you need to make a large purchase, you can spread the cost out over several months without incurring any interest

  2. Benefit from payment protection

    You’ll be protected if you buy services or goods that cost between £100 to £30,000, so if anything goes wrong you can claim your money back

  3. Earn rewards

    If you have a rewards card, using it to pay for all your everyday spending can see you potentially earning hundreds of pounds worth of rewards or cashback

  4. Improve your credit score

    By using your card responsibly and making your payments on time and in full, you can boost your credit score

  5. Consolidate your debts

    Make the most of 0% balance transfer offers and move your debts onto one card with a much lower interest rate to help you clear them more quickly

  6. Set up a direct debit

    A direct debit can make sure you never fall behind with payments and risk losing the benefits that credit cards offer

What should I do if I can't make my repayments?

You should contact your lender as soon as possible, they may be able to come up with a payment plan to help you get back on track.

You’ll need to work out what you can afford to pay. If you can afford it, you should pay at least the minimum required amount.

If there’s a temporary problem with your finances - for example, you’ve lost your job - the credit card company may let you pause your payments until you’re back in employment. Interest will still be charged at the normal rate and will need to be paid when you resume your payments.

If you’re struggling with money, you can access free debt help backed by the government and from debt help charities. You can get impartial expert advice from a trained debt adviser who will work with you to find a solution.

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