Best Credit Cards

Discover the best credit cards by comparing fees, credit limits and APR

Updated: April 11, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

|
Rachel Wait

Edited By

Rachel Wait

 
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Have you been searching for a convenient way to make purchases immediately, without waiting until payday, or are you looking to build a credit history?

A credit card could potentially be one of the best options to help you achieve either of these goals, but with so many cards to choose from, how do you select the right one?

When comparing the best credit cards, it's important to be aware of different factors such as credit card limits, the minimum monthly repayment or fees you must pay, and the fact that you will often pay interest if you don't repay your balance in full each month.

To simplify this comparison, I looked closely at the best credit cards for a range of circumstances.

ServiceScoreRegister
1. Tesco Bank Foundation Credit Card★★★★★Click Here
2. NatWest Longer Balance Credit Card★★★★★Click Here
3. American Express Platinum Cashback Credit Card★★★★★Click Here
4. Barclaycard Rewards Credit Card★★★★Click Here
5. British Airways American Express Credit Card★★★★Click Here
6. Sainsbury's Bank Nectar Credit Card★★★★Click Here
7. HSBC Purchase Plus Credit Card★★★★Click Here
8. Amex Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card★★★★Click Here
9. Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card★★★★★Click Here
10. MBNA Purchase Credit Card★★★★★Click Here

Credit cards enable you to buy something now and pay for it later. You effectively borrow money from the card provider to pay for your goods and then repay that amount in flexible monthly instalments.

If you have examined a credit card closely, you will see that it features a chip and card number, an expiration date, and your name on the front side. On the back, you will see a magnetic strip, CVC code and a space for your signature.

A credit card will have a credit limit, which your provider will give you depending on your income and your credit history. The credit limit is the maximum amount you can borrow on the card at any one time. It may change depending on how well you manage your card.

Recent statistics show that 59.6 million credit cards were in circulation in 2021, a sharp decline after the pandemic, and a quarter of British people have three credit cards.

Credit card providers expect you to repay the borrowed amount over time, plus any interest you have accumulated. There will be a minimum amount you must repay each month, but how much you pay over this (if anything) is up to you.

If you pay off the balance in full each month, you won't be charged interest. But if you carry anything over into the following month, interest will be charged, unless you've taken advantage of a 0% introductory deal.

Best Credit Cards Pros & Cons

If you're interested in obtaining a credit card, it helps to know the pros and cons before you apply for one.

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of credit cards?

Pros

✔️ Can help you to build a credit history — A credit history can help prove you have a good financial track record and are a responsible borrower. Make sure you repay your credit card balance in full and on time and you will start to build a credit history. This can help you get access to mortgages and loans in the future.

49% of UK adults have never looked at their credit history, but it is still crucial if you want to borrow money from the bank. Your lender can refuse to offer you the funds if you have a low credit score or high credit card debt.

✔️ Using credit cards is convenient — If you don't have the funds in your savings account or bank account, using credit cards can be a convenient way to make a purchase. You can buy the item now and pay for it later.

✔️ Credit card providers offer rewards — If you register for a reward credit card, you may receive extra perks and rewards schemes from the provider. For example, loyalty points with credit cards enable you to build up rewards and use them to make other purchases, while cashback credit cards allow you to earn money back depending on how much you spend.

✔️ Spread the cost — A credit card enables you to spread the cost of a purchase over several months. If your credit card offers 0% on purchases for a set time, this can be a great way to help you pay for a holiday or new car, for example.

✔️ Credit cards protect your purchases — Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act means that any purchase costing more than £100 and up to £30,000 will be protected if something goes wrong. This can apply even if you only made a small deposit on the card, as long as the total cost was more than £100.

Cons

❌️ You can build up debt — If you cannot make timely, monthly repayments on your credit card balance, it's easy to get into debt. If you don't pay off your balance in full each month, you could be charged high rates of interest.

❌️ Credit histories can be negatively affected — Just as you can build a good credit history with a credit card, your credit report can be negatively affected if you do not make timely repayments. 

In practical terms, defaulted payments or arrears are both factors that can negatively affect your credit history. During the pandemic, the number of overindebted people increased from 10.7 million to 14.2 million, so it is essential to manage credit cards efficiently to avoid this.

❌️ Extra charges may apply — It isn't only interest you need to consider if you apply for a credit card. Extra charges may apply, such as missed payment fees or fees for exceeding your credit limit. Some credit cards also charge annual fees and you'll often be charged for using your card overseas.

❌️ Not best for cash withdrawals — If you withdraw cash on your credit card, not only will you be charged a fee, you'll also pay interest from the moment you get your cash, making it very expensive. It can also have a negative impact on your credit score.

Best Credit Cards in 2024:

If you are looking for the best credit cards, from rewards credit cards to balance transfer credit card options, here are our reviews.

1. Tesco Bank Foundation Credit Card

Tesco Bank Foundation Credit Card

Tesco Bank Foundation Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £250
Representative % APR (variable)
29.9% APR
  • Collect Clubcard points almost every time you shop.
  • Credit limit £250 to £1,500.
  • Access to Tesco Bank CreditView, provided by TransUnion, for 3 years from account opening.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 29.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 29.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

If you are an individual with bad credit, the Tesco Foundation credit card is the ideal option for you. Your starting credit limit will range between £250 – £1,500.

For three years, you will also be able to track your credit score using Tesco Bank CreditView via TransUnion, which is ideal if you need to apply for a mortgage and want to monitor your creditworthiness.

You can use the eligibility checker on Tesco Foundation credit card website to find out how likely you are to get accepted for this card. If you use this service, it does not affect your credit record.

You'll also be able to earn Clubcard points every time you spend on your Tesco credit card, which could be ideal if you're a regular Tesco shopper. However, if you do not pay off the balance in full every month, you'll be charged interest, and if you miss payments, a late payment fee of £12 will apply.

The Tesco Foundation credit card has received awards from the Moneyfacts Consumer Awards, in which it received the number one spot. It's possible to apply for this credit card online in a few minutes.

2. NatWest Longer Balance Transfer Credit Card

NatWest Longer Balance Transfer Card

NatWest Longer Balance Transfer Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £250
Representative % APR (variable)
23.9% APR
  • 0% interest for 23 months on balance transfers.
  • 0% interest for the first 3 months on purchases.
  • 3.49% balance transfer fee applies. No annual fee.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 24.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 24.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

The NatWest Longer Balance Transfer credit card enables you to shift over debt from another credit card or cards and avoid paying interest on that debt for 23 months. However, you will pay a transfer fee of 3.49% and if you don't pay off your balance in full before the 23 months are up, you'll start paying interest.

Remember that your credit limit can vary depending on NatWest's assessment, so you may not get the credit limit you want. The most you can transfer is up to 95% of your credit limit. This card also offers 0% on purchases for three months but it's generally best to avoid using your card for purchases as well as balance transfers.

3. American Express Cashback Credit Card

American Express Cashback Credit Card

American Express Cashback Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £700
Representative 36.7% APR (variable)
36.7% APR
  • Get 5% cashback on your purchases (up to £125) for the first three months of Cardmembership.
  • Enjoy carefully selected offers from AMEX range of retail and travel partners.
  • Annual fee £25.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 31.0% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 36.7% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

The American Express Platinum card is an optimum cashback option. You'll earn 5% cashback on your spending for the first three months (up to a maximum of £125). After this time, if you spend up to £10,000 a year, you can receive 0.75% cashback; for purchases of more than £10,000, you can receive 1.25% cashback.

The card has a representative APR of 36.7% so it's important to pay off your balance in full each month. If you can't, this card won't be for you.

What's more, an annual fee of £25 applies, but you can also receive a refer-a-friend bonus, with which you can earn £30 for each person you refer. This bonus is applicable for up to £150 per year, which is a good incentive to select this credit card.

This credit card also includes travel benefits, such as a fraud guarantee, and American Express offers. With the fraud guarantee, the credit card provider will investigate unfamiliar purchases and remove them from your account.

You can also add family members to your account (but you will still be the main cardholder). The maximum number of complementary cards you can add to your account is five, which will help you earn cashback faster.

4. Barclaycard Rewards Credit Card

Barclaycard Rewards Credit Card

Barclaycard Rewards Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £50
Representative % APR (variable)
25.9% APR
  • Get 0.25% cashback on your everyday spend.
  • No fees abroad.
  • Protection on purchases over £100.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 25.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 25.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

Some of the main benefits of the Barclaycard credit card include a cashback percentage on your everyday spending, amounting to 0.25%, plus fee-free spending abroad.

You can also enjoy fee-free cash withdrawals abroad and, unusually, a 0% grace period applies to the Barclaycard credit card when you make overseas withdrawals.

However, it's important to remember that if you make multiple withdrawals with your credit card, your credit score might be negatively impacted. There are also late payment fees of £12 if you don't make a payment on time.

If you need to evaluate your eligibility for this credit card, select the card on the Barclaycard website and fill in the form to enable the credit card provider to evaluate your credit history. You must provide your name and address history for the past five years.

5. British Airways American Express Credit Card

British Airways American Express Credit Card

British Airways American Express Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £700
Representative % APR (variable)
30.0% APR
  • Collect 1 Avios for every £1 spent on purchases.
  • Invite friends, get rewarded.
  • No annual fee.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 30.0% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 30.0% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

You can select the British Airways American Express credit card to receive rewards for frequent travel.

If you spend £1,000 in the first three months, you can collect up to 5,000 Avios points. You'll also earn 1 Avios for every £1 spent on your card. British Airways American Express cardholders can spend their Avios points on flights with British Airways (the UK's second-largest airline according to statistics), hotel stays and vehicle hire.

Multiple benefits are available with this credit card. You are eligible for a fraud guarantee, meaning this credit card provider will flag and remove any unrecognised purchases in line with potential fraud issues. This credit card also comes with music, theatre and film ticket options and refund and purchase protection.

You'll also get up to £75,000 cover on public transport under the card's travel accident insurance policy.

There's no annual fee with this card and checking your eligibility takes a few quick steps. You can fill in the online form, select the submit button and await your decision.

6. Sainsbury's Bank Everyday Credit Card

Sainsbury's Bank Everyday Credit Card

Sainsbury's Bank Everyday Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £1,000
Representative % APR (variable)
29.4% APR
  • An initial credit limit between £1,000 – £2,000.
  • No annual fee.
  • Collect up to 3 points per £2 spent at Sainsbury’s, Argos, Habitat & Tu clothing when you pay with a Sainsbury’s Bank Credit Card & scan your Nectar card or app. And you’ll get 1 point per £5 elsewhere.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 29.4% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 29.4% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

You can receive Nectar points with the Sainsbury's Bank Everyday credit card. You can collect up to 3 points per every £2 you spend in Sainsbury's, Argos, and Habitat and at least 1 point per every £5 spent elsewhere.

Sainsbury's Bank Everyday credit card also provides a credit card app that enables you to manage your account. It is possible to make payments and monitor the amounts you spend whenever you need to complete expense tracking.

The card offers an initial credit limit of between £1,000 and £2,000 but your credit limit could increase over time. The card has a guaranteed representative APR of 29.4%.

There are some specific fees that apply to Sainsbury's Bank Everyday credit card holders, such as a £12 late payment fee or overlimit charge.

For cash withdrawals, a 3% fee applies (minimum £3) and interest will accrue from the moment you get your cash.

If you want to apply for this card, you need to be over 18 years old, a UK resident and have a regular income.

7. HSBC Purchase Plus Credit Card

HSBC Purchase Plus Credit Card

HSBC Purchase Plus Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £500
Representative % APR (variable)
24.9% APR
  • 0% interest on purchases for up to 18 months.
  • Up to 16 months of interest-free balance transfers (3.49% fee, minimum £5).
  • No annual fee.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 24.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 24.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

The HSBC Purchase Plus credit card offers 18 months of interest-free purchases. You can also benefit from 16 months of interest-free balance transfers if you make the transfers within the first 60 days after you open the account. A 3.49% transfer fee applies.

You'll also benefit from purchase protection under Section 75. Offers and discounts are also available, such as shopping and travel offers, so we recommend that you consult the HSBC website to find up-to-date information about these discounts.

Eligibility for the HSBC Purchase Plus credit card will depend on specific factors. You must be a UK resident over 18 and earn at least £6,800 a year.

8. Amex Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card

Amex Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card

Amex Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £700
Representative % APR (variable)
88.8% APR
  • Earn 20,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend £3,000 in your first three months of Cardmembership.
  • Priority Pass airport lounge access.
  • Annual fee £195 (£0 for the first year).

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 31.0% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 88.8% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

With the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold credit card, you can earn 20,000 membership reward points if you spend £3,000 in the first three months of card membership.

On top of this, you'll earn 3 points for every £1 spent on American Express Travel, 2 points for every £1 spent directly with airlines and 1 point for every £1 spent elsewhere.

To give you an idea of what the reward points will get you, if you have 35,000 membership points on your credit card balance, you can get £150 worth of gift vouchers or £135 in Amazon purchases, statement credit or flights and hotels with Amex Preferred Rewards.

There's no annual fee in the first year, but this will increase to £195 in the second year of being an Amex Preferred Rewards Gold credit cardholder. So you need to be sure this fee is worth paying.

The card has a representative APR of 88.8% and a purchase rate of 31.0% so it's crucial to repay your balance in full each month. This rate is variable so could fluctuate in line with the Bank of England base rate.

Cardholders also get four complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge visits each year, and access to exclusive events. You can even get £5 cashback on eligible purchases at Deliveroo.

9. Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card

Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card

Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £50
Representative % APR (variable)
24.9% APR
  • 0% interest on purchases for up to 21 months from the date you open your account.
  • 0% interest for up to 20 months on balance transfers from the date you open your account. Transfers must be made within 60 days to benefit from the 0% offer.
  • 2.99% balance transfer fee (terms apply).

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 24.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 24.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

Select the Barclaycard Platinum credit card, and you will receive several financial benefits. You will not have to pay any interest on your purchases for up to the first 21 months.

You can also avoid interest for up to 20 months on balance transfers, which applies to your transactions within the first 60 days. Note there is a 3.45% transfer fee and you might be offered a shorter 0% period depending on your credit rating and financial circumstances.

Some additional advantages of the Barclaycard Platinum credit card include fraud protection and adding a cardholder for free. You can also register to earn up to 15% cashback when you spend at certain retailers.

There are a few eligibility specifications to be aware of if you want to apply for the Barclaycard Platinum credit card.

You must be over 21 years old and have managed credit for at least four years. You must also have a personal income of at least £20,000 per year and have not declared yourself bankrupt in the previous six years.

10. MBNA Purchase Credit Card

MBNA Purchase Credit Card

MBNA Purchase Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £100
Representative % APR (variable)
24.9% APR
  • You could earn cashback with MBNA Smart Rewards.
  • Add it to your smartphone or digital wallets.
  • Section 75 protection on most purchases over £100 but not more than £30,000.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 22.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 22.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

The MBNA Purchase credit card offers up to 21 months interest-free on purchases, but this only applies to spending made within the first 60 days.

Another advantage of the MBNA credit card is that if you have not authorised a transaction, it will be subject to fraud protection when you inform your credit card provider that you do not recognise a purchase. This protection also applies if you lose your credit card.

Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, your purchases are also protected if you've spent more than £100 and up to £30,000.

Cashback is another advantage of the MBNA Purchase credit card. You can receive this with the MBNA smart rewards scheme when you make purchases from selected retailers, which means you can earn cash for buying items. Check the MBNA Purchase credit card website to learn more about cashback and smart rewards.

Compare Credit Cards: The Verdict

Selecting the optimum credit card for your use is not easy, but comparing credit cards and finding an option that matches your needs is important. Compare Banks has all the up-to-date facts you require to make comparisons and easily navigate the credit card market.

Whether you are a frequent traveller, hoping to build a credit score or are looking interest-free credit cards, credit card comparison doesn't have to be difficult.

Related Guides:

Best Credit Cards: FAQs

What Are Annual Fees for Credit Cards?

What Are Credit Builder Cards?

What Are Balance Transfer Cards?

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Mentioned Banks

About HSBC Bank HSBC is a British banking and financial services company. It is the largest bank in Europe and the seventh largest bank in the world. The bank originated in Hong Kong...
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NatWest, or National Westminster, is a retail and commercial bank based in the United Kingdom. It is one of the ‘Big Four’ UK clearing banks and has more than 7.5million personal banking...
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About Sainsbury’s Bank Sainsbury’s Bank is a British bank owned by the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain. It was the first supermarket bank to open in the UK. It is headquartered in Edinburgh...
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Part of one of the world’s biggest supermarket chains, Tesco Finance was launched back in 1997. The Head Office is based in Edinburgh, and although there were bricks and mortar branches...
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About Union Bank Union Bank, or Union Bank of Nigeria, was founded in 1917 as Colonial Bank. Its name was changed to Barclays Bank Dominion, Colonial and Overseas in 1925 after...
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