Choosing a credit card can be a bit baffling, especially if you’ve never had or needed one before.
Those little plastic cards all look alike and the companies selling them are all keen to sell you their benefits – sometimes making it harder for you to decide.
That’s why we created our credit card decision tree – not to help you decide which credit card to apply for (that comes later), but instead to help you decide which kind of credit card you might need.
Do you need a card for making purchases or for clearing your debt? Just answer a few quick questions like these and our decision tree will tell you simply which kind of card might be right for you.
If you’re struggling with the first question about your credit history, this guide will explain. Broadly speaking, if you’ve borrowed responsibly in the past – paying off what you owed, on time – your history is more likely to be positive.
If, however, you’ve never really borrowed before, you’ve had problems paying back your debts or you’ve missed payments, you may be rated more negatively.
Still unsure what’s best for you? We have lots of helpful guides in our credit cards shop, which you’ll find here.
Do you have a good credit history?
For more information on credit scoring and credit history, read our guide to What is a good credit score?
Do you want to transfer a balance from an existing debt?
Consider a Credit Builder Credit Card
If you've had problems with debt in the past, it's likely that your credit score will have been damaged.
But other things can affect your credit score, such as having little or no history of borrowing.
Whatever your reason for a having a bad credit score, it doesn't need to be permanent. One way to repair your score is by getting a credit builder credit card.
Some of these cards offer 0% introductory offers for purchases and balance transfers.Get a card
Will you also use the card for spending?
Do you want to make a major purchase?
Consider a Balance Transfer and Purchase Credit Card
If you want to transfer a balance to a new card and use that card for fresh spending, a combined balance transfer and purchase card might be your best bet.Get a card
Consider a Balance Transfer Credit Card
If you want to transfer an existing debt onto a 0% balance transfer credit card, there are a number of factors to consider.
While the longest 0% interest free period may seem tempting, you should also take into account any balance transfer fee that applies.
If you're transferring a smaller balance, you might be better off taking a shorter 0% interest free period, but with no (or a lower) balance transfer fee.
Our BT calculator tool helps you to understand what is best for you, based on your requirements.Get a card
Consider a Purchase Credit Card
There are two main types of purchase credit card.
If you are going to make a large one-off purchase, you should look for a long 0% purchase card, where interest isn't charged for a given number of months.
You should also consider a 0% card if you are planning to use it for regular spending, but won't be paying the balance off monthly.
If you'll be paying off your balance each month, consider a card that offers cashback or points, so you can earn while you spend.Get a card
Consider a Cashback & Reward Credit Card
These cards pay cashback or give you other 'rewards', such as redeemable points, when you use the card to make certain purchases, or use it in certain shops.Get a card