15 December 2017 : 

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Types of Credit Card

In the UK we are lucky enough to benefit from one of the most developed and sophisticated credit card markets in the world. The consumer protection available in the UK (through section 75 etc) is second to none and we therefore have (and use) more credit cards than most other developed countries. Of course the size of the market sees competitors from all over the world vying for credit card business in the UK. The intense competition UK credit card issuers face has resulted in many great product developments, but it has also resulted in a fracturing of the market (and the types of cards available) as issuers develop new products to appeal to ever smaller niche groups. This choice is obviously great for the consumer as it makes it far more likely that products tailored to their specific requirements are available, but in some respects this abundance of choice can make the UK card market a confusing place.

To help people pick their way through the myriad of different products and issuers we have categorised cards into certain groups to offer people a good starting point on their quest for the best credit card deal.

Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Perhaps the most popular type of credit card currently available in the UK; the 0% balance transfer card offers customers the opportunity to transfer an existing credit card balance to a new card (and issuer) at 0% for a specific introductory period.

These cards can be great for people currently paying high interest to their credit card provider as they offer a simple way to reduce interest payments and start to clear the debt owed. Of course there are some costs involved such as the balance transfer fee, but canny shoppers will notice that for a shorter balance transfer period they can often reduce the fee considerably. However, people should be realistic about what they can pay and how quickly - many will find that the safety of a longer 0% transfer period provides has advantages over short term savings on fee.

0% Purchases Credit Cards

Another very popular credit card category is Purchase cards. These cards operate in the opposite way to balance transfer cards in that they offer 0% interest on new purchases rather than 0% on debt that has already been accrued. These cards can be very useful for people looking to split the cost of a big ticket item like a washing machine, TV or other appliance without incurring the high interest rates that many retailers charge. They can also be very useful for people simply looking to purchase via a credit card to enjoy the purchase protection it offers versus debt card products that have no statutory protection (and little else).

Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Individuals who have already had trouble with personal debt (either credit cards, loans, mortgages or any other type) may find that they struggle to be accepted for prime credit products as their credit history indicates they may default on their payment obligations. In this circumstance many individuals look to rebuild their credit history with a credit card. Credit cards for bad credit offer individuals the opportunity to improve their credit score by maintaining a credit history which demonstrates that they have met their obligations on time and in full.

Of course, these individuals still represent a higher risk to card issuers and this risk is expressed by issuers in the interest rates and credit limits they offer, but for many people a bad credit credit card is the best route to repairing their credit score so they can again access the best credit products.

Other Credit Card Categories

If none of the three card types detailed above seems suitable for you or you have an interest in understanding what other credit cards are available use the left hand navigation to explore our credit card tables - alternatively check out our credit card guides for more in depth analysis of different cards types and their respective benefits.

See how much you could save with our balance transfer calculator

 Compare Credit Cards by Issuer

American Express Credit Cards American Express
Aqua Credit Cards Aqua Credit Cards
Barclaycard Credit Cards Barclaycard
Bank of Scotland Credit Cards Bank of Scotland
Capital One Credit Cards Capital One
Halifax Credit Cards Halifax
Lloyds Bank Credit Cards Lloyds Bank
MBNA Credit Cards MBNA
Nationwide Credit Cards Nationwide
NatWest Credit Cards Natwest
Royal Bank of Scotland Credit Cards Royal Bank of Scotland
Sainsbury's Bank Credit Cards Sainsbury's Bank
Santander Credit Cards Santander
Tesco Bank Credit Cards Tesco Bank
TSB Credit Cards TSB Credit Cards
Vanquis Credit Cards Vanquis
Virgin Money Credit Cards Virgin Money

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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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