22 November 2017 : 

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Credit Card Comparison

Credit cards are one of the most popular personal finance products in the UK. This is not only because they offer us a quick & secure way of paying for things, but also because they have evolved to offer other useful features. 0% balance transfers, 0% purchase interest, credit building functionality & numerous reward programs (like cashback, air miles and supermarket reward points) are just some of the perks credit cards offer .

Compare credit cards using our simple comparison tables or read on to learn more about credit card benefits & your options.

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Product Name Balance Transfer Intro Purchases
APR (variable)
Representative Example: Representative 34.9% APR (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 34.95% p.a. (variable)
opus Classic application
Representative Example: Representative 24.8% APR (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 24.84% p.a. (variable)
marbles application
Representative Example: Representative 34.9% APR (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 34.9% p.a. (variable)
Ocean Credit Card application
Representative Example: Representative 18.9% APR (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.9% p.a. (variable)
Santander Everyday Credit Card application
Representative Example: Representative 27.4% APR (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 27.45% p.a. (variable)
aqua Classic 27.4% Low APR application
Representative Example: Representative 22.9% APR (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 22.9% p.a. (variable)
Amex British Airways application
Representative Example: Representative 18.9% APR (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.9% p.a. (variable)
Yorkshire Bank Gold MasterCard application


compareandsave.com is a trading name of Freedom Marketing Ltd. Freedom Marketing Ltd is a credit broker, not a lender and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, firm reference number 493117.

The offers that appear on this site are from companies from which compareandsave.com receives compensation. compareandsave.com does not include the entire universe of available financial or credit offers.

This table comprises a range of cards including popular cards from different categories, new offers, limited offers and other benefits. Table position does not imply product strength or superiority. Please ensure you have thoroughly investigated all available options before applying for products.

What are credit cards?

In their simplest form, credit cards are simply embossed plastic cards, containing one or two electrical chips, which enable people who hold them to access lines of credit from their card issuer.

However, the simplicity of credit cards’ standard functionality belies their real value to holders. This value is derived partly through specific attributes of the account associated with the physical ‘plastic’ and partly in the legal framework in which the UK credit market has evolved.

Specific account attributes might include anything from ‘cheap’ credit, by way of 0% or low interest rate balance transfers or purchases, to rewards and benefit programs that offer holders rewards for spending on their cards.

The legal framework that credit cards exist in offers consumers a transparent and highly regulated credit market, whilst also bestowing enhanced consumer protection on certain credit card purchases.

Getting the Right Credit Card for You

Whilst getting the right credit card offers tremendous benefit, getting (or applying for) the wrong card can actually be a hindrance, so credit card applications should not be made lightly.


Before any application is made it is essential that you fully understand your current financial circumstances (to help avoid rejection and the subsequent issues it causes) and the product you are applying for. Take care to ensure you have not been drawn into applying for an unsuitable product by clever marketing and short term price promotions that may ultimately leave you out-of-pocket. To help you select the ‘best’ credit card (for your particular circumstances), it's worth understanding a bit about the different types of credit card that are available (or not), and which features and benefits might be particularly beneficial.

Popular Credit Card Types

All credit cards are different (even the same product offered to two different people could vary in terms of credit limit, APR and introductory offer). Most fall into one of four main categories:

Standard Credit Cards

Standard credit cards, as the name implies, are the most straightforward of credit cards. They tend to be offered by banks/building societies to their bank account holders. They have traditionally been marketed as simply an alternative payment method, offering little in the way of promotional deals and rates that some other credit card types offer, although some have improved recently – offering cashback on particular purchases.

Balance Transfers

balance transfer arrows

The most popular credit cards in the UK tend to be balance transfer products. Balance transfers offer customers the opportunity to transfer an existing credit card balance, held with one issuer, to another issuer at a more advantageous interest rate. More often than not, especially with 0% transfers, the interest rate is only reduced for an introductory/promotional period, after which it returns to the higher standard APR. However, some issuers also offer products which offer a fixed reduce rate of interest for the life of the balance.

Although many balance transfer cards are referred to as '0% balance transfers', they are not normally entirely free, as 0% might imply. This is because although no interest is applied to the balance once it is has been transferred, customers are usually charged a fee (balance transfer fee) to transfer the balance between issuers.

Recent developments in the once stable balance transfer market have seen issuers fight for market share by reducing the length of the 0% period and the balance transfer fee together, so customers get a shorter introductory period, but pay less in fees. These ‘low fee’ products are particularly attractive to those who are confident to pay off their balance earlier than the leading 0% periods allow for and for whom the transfer fee therefore represents the greatest expense.

For more information about balance transfers [click here] to read our ‘Balance Transfer Guide’ or use our balance transfer calculator to understand how much a 0% deal could save you.

0% Purchase Credit Cards

0% purchase credit cards offer customers the ability to spend on their credit card without incurring interest on the accrued balance for an introductory period (assuming the minimum payments are made on time etc.).

Because these cards offer 0% on new purchases they don't tend to be suitable for people who have already built up a credit card balance. Nevertheless, they are still very popular products, appealing to:

  • Those purchasing 'big ticket' items, but without the funds quickly available
  • People buying 'big ticket' items who want the additional consumer protections afforded to credit card customers through section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act - [click here to read our guide to section 75]
  • Astute individuals who prefer to earn interest on their own money (with a high interest savings account) whilst spending at 0% on a credit card, which they ultimately clear at the end of the 0% purchase period

Rewards Credit Cards

There are numerous credit card rewards available to customers, each designed to appeal to different groups.

Airmile credit cards are one of the longest established forms of reward credit cards. They tend to be associated with particular carriers or airline groups and offer people the opportunity to earn points when they spend, which they can then exchange for flights, upgrades and other travel related benefits.

Cashback cards offer perhaps the most tangible of credit card rewards, cash. Typically issuers increase the amount of cashback for an introductory period and/or cap the total cashback a customer can earn from a given spend category (Petrol, Department Stores, Supermarket etc).

Some cashback cards also charge an annual fee to customers, so try to calculate whether the cashback you might earn would cover the cost of an annual fee and/or whether a little research into other reward credit cards might lead you to cards that offer rewards of a higher cash equivalent value than simply cash itself (e.g. cinema tickets).

Supermarket reward credit cards are offered by a number of UK supermarkets and offer enhanced reward point ‘earn rates’ for customers using them, which they can then use within the supermarkets established rewards program. Although on the face of it reward credit cards can seem very appealing, you should only consider applying for these products if you are able to clear your credit card balance every month in full. If not, the interest you are likely to accrue on your balance will far outweigh the monetary value of any rewards.

Read our guide to reward & cashback cards: [click here] for more detailed information about the different credit card reward schemes available in the UK.

Credit cards for Bad Credit

If you've already had credit cards, loans or other borrowings that you have struggled to pay, you may find that you have 'bad credit' and your credit card applications are rejected. Unfortunately many exacerbate the situation with additional applications, which are usually perceived by credit card issuers as demonstrating a difficult financial position and desperation to access credit.

However, people with bad credit still need to access credit based products, so issuers have responded with 'credit cards for bad credit'. These products are designed specifically for people with troubled credit history, or people who have no credit history whatsoever.

The credit limits are lower than those offered to 'prime' customers and the interest rates (APR's) are usually much higher, to insure the issuer against the increased likelihood of bad debt or default. That said, bad credit credit cards are one of the most accessible credit products, and are often a lifeline to people wanting to rebuild their credit score so that they can demonstrate the creditworthiness required to be accepted for products involving higher levels of debt, like mortgages.

Read our guide to credit cards for rebuilding your credit score [click here] or use our credit cards for bad credit comparison table to find the best product for your needs [click here].

What credit limit will I get?

Issuers sometimes offer an indication of the available credit limits, but you won't know exactly what credit limit you'll get until after you have applied, been approved and the provider has assessed your circumstances, including; your age, credit rating and your current annual salary.

Once assessed, the issuer will offer you a credit limit, based on their belief that you can afford to service the debt.

Credit limits also vary dependent on your chosen card type. Typically different credit card types come with different limits (i.e. a platinum credit card will allow for a higher credit limit than standard credit cards, but as such require the holder to have a higher annual salary). Your credit limit may fluctuate over the time which you have the card, based on the way in which you use it, and how you manage your finances. Should your provider choose to change your credit limit (either an increase or decrease of your limit) you will be notified.

If you’re unhappy with your credit limit, you're entitled to request an increase from the provider, although it's wise to demonstrate that you are a reliable customer through positive use over a number of months, prior to requesting an increase.

Are credit cards better than loans?

[Read our Section 75 guide here]. However, unlike loans, credit card repayments are relatively flexible. Minimum payments must be made, but customers can choose when they repay the monies they owe, rather than having to make fixed payments month on month regardless of other outgoings.

Comparing Credit Cards

compare credit cards

Once you understand the different types of credit cards available, and have a good idea of what type of card would best suit your needs, the simplest way of comparing products is with product comparison tables (featured above) which rank products based on particular features.

We have developed a range of comparison tables to help you quickly compare the finer details of particular credit card attributes. If you find a suitable product, you can use the secure links found through clicking the 'more info' button to take you to the relevant page on the issuer's website.

Further Reading

Choosing a credit card - The UK Cards Association

Choosing and applying for a credit card - Citizens Advice (England)

ApplePay - Apple (UK)

Product Offers
Please ensure that you fully read the terms & conditions of any product or policy before you decide to proceed and are fully aware of the total costs and the benefits and any exclusions or limitations applicable to the product or plan.

Please note that the product links will take you direct to the Issuer or Insurer's site direct and we cannot be held responsible for the information which they provide within their own sites. On some comparison tables we use a star rating which rates products by visitor popularity.
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©2017 compareandsave.com is a trading name of Freedom Marketing Ltd.
Freedom Marketing Ltd is a credit broker, not a lender and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, firm reference number 493117. This can be checked at http://www.fca.org.uk/register. Registered in England & Wales under registration number 05349340. The company's registered office is Freedom Marketing Limited, Colchester Centre, Hawkins Road, Colchester, Essex, United Kingdom, CO2 8JX.

The offers that appear on this site are from companies from which compareandsave.com receives compensation.

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