Credit cards are one of the most popular personal finance products in the UK. This is partly because they offer people a quick, convenient & secure way of paying (both at home and abroad), but much of this appeal also stems from the fact that they have moved beyond being purely a tool for payment.
Credit cards now offer consumers a host of other perks and benefits, like 0% transfers, purchases at 0% interest and many different types of rewards (like cashback, airmiles and points). With all the choice available it's essential that you compare credit cards thoroughly to get the best deal.
|Product Name||Balance Transfer Intro||
But be aware that:
|We provide credit card comparison service free to the user, but we may receive commissions from the companies we refer users to. This table comprises a range of cards including popular cards from different categories, new offers, limited offers and other benefits. Other tables feature a broader range of products ordered by specific attributes.|
Most of us understand that getting the right credit card offers tremendous benefits. It can save us money, give us greater financial freedom and offer valuable rewards, perks and benefits that we would otherwise forfeit. However, with all the available choice, it can be difficult deciding which credit card (or credit cards) best suits our needs.
To help us make the right choice it's worth arming ourselves with an understanding of what different types of credit card are available, and which features and benefits are specific to particular cards or categories.
Although all credit cards are different (even the same product offered to two different people could vary) most credit cards broadly fall into one of four credit card categories:
Standard credit cards, as the name implies, are perhaps the most straightforward type of credit card available. They tend to be offered by banks/building societies to their current account holders (and/or other consumers) and, although some of these products have improved recently, 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.
Many of the most popular credit cards in the UK are 0% balance transfer offers and it's easy to understand why. Balance transfers offer customers' an opportunity to transfer an existing credit card balance, held with one issuer, to another issuer at 0% interest for a fixed period (so long as they make their minimum payments on time).
Although these cards often referred to as '0% deals' they are not normally entirely free. Customers typically pay the issuer they are transferring the balance to a "balance transfer fee" (although cards at 0% transfer fee are occasionally available, these are rare), but if used well this cards can be some of the cheapest money you'll ever borrow.
Variations on traditional 0% balance transfer deals are also available. Low rate products offer customers access to a low rate for a prolong period (or sometimes the life of the balance) and are attractive to some people who prefer not to have to switch 0% deals regularly (or those who forget their minimum payments and therefore incur interest).
A recent twist on traditional balance transfer products involves card issuers reducing the length of the 0% period, but also reducing the balance transfer fee. These low transfer fee products are particularly attractive to people who are confident they'll pay their balance earlier than the leading 0% periods allow for and for whom the fee therefore represents the greatest expense.
0% Purchase credit cards offer customers the ability to spend on their credit card without incurring interest on the accrued balance for a set time (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, appeal to people like:
People able to pay off their credit card balance in full every month could investigate the reward schemes offered with certain credit cards. These 'reward' schemes come in different shapes and sizes, each offering something unique. Some are allied with major UK retailer point schemes, which make the understanding of the actual value of the reward points easier.
Airmile credit cards, are associated with a specific carrier or airline group and offer people the opportunity to earn points toward flights and other travel related perks.
Cashback cards offer rewards that are very simple and straightforward to understand. If getting a Cashback credit card sounds interesting to you it's worth thinking about what you are likely to put on the card and how frequently, so you can calculate whether you would be better with a free cashback card or one which incurs an annual fee, but offers higher rates of interest.
Read our guide to reward & cashback card [click here] for more information about the different credit card reward schemes available in the UK.
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 applications for credit card products are rejected. Unfortunately multiple applications tend to make the situation worse and can further dent your perceived creditworthiness with credit card issuers.
However, people with bad credit still need to access credit based products and therefore the market has responded with the introduction of 'credit cards for bad credit'. These products are designed specifically for people with a troubled credit history, or people who have no credit history whatsoever. As such, the credit limits tend to be lower than those that might be offered to 'prime' customers and the interest rates (APR's) tend to be much higher, to insure the issuer against the increased likelihood of bad debt or default. Because of this, these are some of the most accessible products available.
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].
Unfortunately you won't know exactly what credit limit you'll get until after you have applied, been approved and the provider has assessed you as a borrower. Issuers sometimes offer an indication of the available credit limits, but they will ultimately make their decision based on your individual circumstances, including; your age, credit rating and your current annual salary. Once assessed, the provider will allocate a credit limit, based on evidence that satisfies their belief that it is feasible for you to meet the minimum repayment comfortably.
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.
Once you understand the different types of credit cards available, and have a good idea of what sort would be most suited to your needs, the simplest way of comparing products is with product comparison tables which rank products based on particular features.
With this in mind we have developed a range of credit card comparison tables to help you quickly compare the finer details of credit card attributes. If you find a suitable product you can then use the secure links, found through clicking the 'more info' button, to take you to the relevant page on the issuer's website. (In fact some products we feature cannot be reached from within the issuer's website, so it's essential you use the links).
Finally, when you get a great product, remember to tell your friends and family that you found it here!