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What are reward credit cards?

A reward card is a credit card that gives you rewards in return for your spending. Incentives can come in the form of points or cashback and vary depending on the card. There are several types of reward you can pick up, ranging from cashback and store credit to Air Miles and in-store loyalty points.

They're designed to reward careful borrowers, so while the benefits sound great, this type of credit card is only any good for people with good credit and a history of responsible spending. These cards tend to feature high APRs if you don't repay the balance each month.

What reward credit cards can you get?

The most common rewards cards offer one of the following:

Cashback

Cashback

Cashback is money you get back on
purchases you make with your credit
card, often one or two per cent

Aeroplane illustration

Air miles

Air Miles are airline reward schemes
that you can exchange for money off
flights. They're good for frequent fliers

Reward bag illustration

Rewards points

If you tend to shop at a particular
store, a credit card that offers you
bonus rewards points might save you money

See the cards you're most likely to get

Our clever Eligibility Checker shows you the credit cards you're most likely to be accepted for, so you can protect your credit rating by only applying for the cards that are right for you.

Accurate results

We use a range of factors to rate how
likely you are to be approved for each
card out of 10.

Apply with confidence

You’ll be shown you your eligibility before
you apply, so you can be confident you won’t be turned down.

See your guaranteed cards

You’ll see which cards you’re
guaranteed to get so you won’t have
any nasty surprises down the line.

How to choose a rewards credit card

This is what you need to think about when picking a rewards credit card:

•  The type of reward on offer

•  Sign-up bonus that can boost your rewards

•  The card’s annual percentage rate (APR)

•  How and where rewards can be spent

•  Whether you need to spend a certain amount to cash your points in 

•  What you aim to spend on the card each year

•  The rewards you could earn on other similar cards

•  Is there a sign-up fee, or an annual charge?

•  The application criteria to make sure you are likely to be accepted

Which credit card gives you the most rewards?

There's no one credit card which offers the best rewards: providers make new offers all the time, and different cards will suit people with varying needs. Your best bet is to work out what type of reward you'll get the most use out of: an Air Miles card is best for frequent fliers, while a card that earns you points at a particular shop makes most sense for someone who patronises it regularly.

If neither of these benefits is useful to you, cashback is a decent option – but the rewards will be less valuable overall as cash is a more flexible perk.

Are credit cards with rewards worth it?

Reward credit cards can be very valuable to the right person. If you're a careful spender who makes purchases on their credit card and pays it all off every month, a rewards card will absolutely benefit you - it's a smart way of getting a little bit of cash back on your purchases, or making savings down the line on flights or at your favourite store.

However, if you aren't always absolutely certain to pay off your balance each month, a rewards card is not for you. These cards mostly come with high APRs, so any outstanding credit will accrue interest rapidly, negating the benefits from points and cashback.

What's the best credit card for hotel points?

Hotel points are a less common credit card reward, and tend to be tied to premium cards (link). There are several options on the market, most of which will only work on one particular hotel chain.

If you’re a frequent traveller, hotel point credit cards might be useful to you, but premium credit cards usually come with annual fees and entry requirements.

What is the best credit card for UK rewards?

There are many credit cards with decent rewards available in the UK. The best way to find a deal to suit you is to use MoneySuperMarket to compare credit cards.

Pay off as much as you can – in full if possible

When using a credit card, it’s best to pay off your entire credit card balance every month if you can afford to – this way you won’t pay interest and you can avoid building up debt. If you can’t afford to pay off the full balance, pay off at least the minimum monthly payment – ideally more.

Don’t miss payments

Also avoid missing payments – credit card providers will often charge a penalty when you do, but more importantly, you risk harming your credit score.

Set up a direct debit

Setting up a direct debit could be a good way to ensure you pay off at least the minimum amount of your credit balance each month. 

Don’t apply too often

Each time you make an application for a credit card, it leaves a record on your credit report. Too many applications will make it look like you are in desperate need for credit and as a result, your application may be rejected.

Get useful rewards

Some credit cards have extra benefits that reward you when you use them a certain way. While some of them can be tempting, it’s better to get a credit card that will give you rewards for the way you spend already. For example, an airmiles credit card is only going to be useful if you’re a regular flyer, no matter how tempting lounge access might be – but if you’re a regular shopper at a particular high street store, there might be a credit card that gives you cashback for shopping there.

Be careful when going overseas

If you’re planning to use your credit card overseas, check whether or not you’ll be charged for doing so. Many credit cards charge foreign transaction fees, so it can be a good idea to look for a card that won’t charge you for using it abroad.

Don’t use your card for cash withdrawals

Some cards will charge a fee if you use it to take cash out of a machine, and on top of that you’ll be charged interest from the moment you receive your money. So avoid using your credit card for cash withdrawals unless it’s an emergency.

Protect yourself from fraud

Credit card fraud, like any fraud, can be very serious – you should always take care when using your credit card, and be careful where you keep it. Never tell anyone your PIN and regularly check your statements to make sure there are no surprises.

What is APR?

APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate and it represents how much it’ll cost to borrow money on a particular credit card. It’s calculated by taking into account:

  • Your interest rate
  • Additional fees and charges.

However, you might see the term ‘representative APR’ on adverts for credit cards – this means that the interest rate quoted only has to be offered to at least 51% of successful applicants, so it may not be the actual rate you get when you apply.

Do interest rates change?

Credit card providers can change interest rates at any time, so it’s always a good idea to stay on top of your credit balance. If you have a 0% offer on your credit card, this will only be for a set number of months so you should make sure you clear your balance before it ends, or shift your balance to another 0% card.

How do I apply for a credit card?

You can generally apply for credit cards online, by post, or over the phone – you can also stop by your bank or building society branch and apply in person.

How do I know what card to apply for?

First you need to know what you’ll use the credit card for – cards come with different features that are useful for different purposes. If you have a large purchase coming up, you might want to spread the cost with a 0% purchase card, if you fly a lot you might want an airmiles card, and if you want to transfer a balance to avoid interest payments, a 0% balance transfer card could be ideal.

By comparing on MoneySuperMarket, you’ll be able to see a list of credit cards tailored to your needs, so you can browse at will and choose which one suits you best.

Can I withdraw a credit card application?

You’ll generally get a cooling off period of two weeks from when you receive your card, and you’ll have 30 days to pay off your balance. You can cancel by contacting your provider, either by post, phone, online, or in-branch.

However, if you want to cancel your credit card after the cooling off period, your account balance generally has to be empty.

What is my credit rating?

Your credit rating is a number that represents your creditworthiness to credit lenders, based on an analysis of your credit history (your history of borrowing and paying back credit).

The higher your score, the more likely you are to be accepted for future credit applications. If your score is low, there are ways to improve it. Find out more here.

What is a soft search?

A soft credit search is a way of finding out which credit cards you’re most likely to be accepted for without your credit score being affected.

What if I have a bad credit rating or no credit rating?

If you have a bad credit rating or you don’t have a credit history because you’ve never borrowed before, you won’t qualify for the very best credit card deals. However, some credit cards are designed specifically for those who need to build up their credit score. Just be aware they often come with low credit limits and high interest rates.

However, if you use this type of card sensibly and always pay off your balance in full, you can improve your credit score – so you’ll eventually be eligible for better credit cards.

What happens if I miss a repayment?

If you miss a repayment on your credit card balance, you may have to pay a penalty fee. What’s more, if you have any type of promotional offer with your card, such as an interest-free deal, this may be cancelled.

What if I get rejected for a credit card?

If you get rejected for a credit card, this will leave a mark on your credit report and could lead to further rejections in the future. It’s therefore a good idea to use MoneySuperMarket’s Eligibility Checker to see how likely you are to be accepted before actually applying and it won’t affect your credit score.

If you’re struggling to get accepted for mainstream credit cards, it can be a good idea to apply for a credit builder card instead.

How do I get more credit?

You might be able to get more credit from your provider if you prove yourself to be a responsible borrower by repaying on time and never missing any payments. Once you’ve established a good credit history, you might be successful when asking for a higher credit limit.

Can I pay off debt early?

Fortunately, unlike many loans and mortgages, you generally won’t be charged for making early repayments – which means it’s a good way to get ahead of your balance.

Can I get joint credit cards?

You can’t get joint credit cards in the same way as bank accounts and mortgages, but you can add additional users to your own credit cards. However, you should remember that it’s still the primary cardholder’s responsibility to pay off the balance.

What is Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act?

The Consumer Credit Act was established in 1974, and under Section 75 the credit card lender is jointly responsible with the retailer or supplier for any goods or services you purchase with your credit card. This means if those products are faulty, or if there was any contract breach or misrepresentation on the retailer’s part, you can claim from your credit card company as well as the retailer.

However, you can’t recover money from both sides, so it’s useful for when the retailer has gone bust or they won’t respond to your communication. You should be aware the purchase value must be between £100 and £30,000 in order for you to be able to claim.

How do I cancel my credit card?

You can cancel your credit card by contacting your lender, by phone, email, online, post, or in person if they have a local branch.

Credit card comparison

If you’re applying for a credit card, you might be able to find a better deal if you look through offers from different providers before taking one out. With MoneySuperMarket you’ll be able to search through multiple credit cards and compare them by a range of factors, including their interest rates and any benefits and rewards they come with.

All you need to do is answer a few questions about yourself and your financial situation, and our Eligibility Checker will show your chances of being accepted for different credit cards. This won’t affect your credit score, so you can run a check without any worries.

Once you know which card you want, you can normally apply by phone, online, or in person if the provider has a high street branch. However, when you do apply, the provider will usually run a hard credit check – which will show up on your credit report – to confirm whether they’ll give you the card. If you’re accepted they’ll tell you your credit limit and interest rate, and soon you’ll be ready to start using your credit card.

How we work

MoneySuperMarket gives you lots of clever ways to save a lot, by doing very little.

  • Take control of your credit score by checking and improving it for free with Credit Monitor
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  • Over 50 ways to Get Money Calm

So how do we make our money? In a nutshell, when you use us to buy a product, we get a reward from the company you’re buying from.

But you might have other questions. Do we provide access to all the companies operating in a given market? Do we have commercial relationships or ownership ties that might make us feature one company above another?

We commit to providing you with clear and informative answers on all points such as this, so we have gathered the relevant information on this page.