If you’re thinking of applying for a credit card to help cover some of your Christmas expenditure, whether that’s gifts, food or travel costs, it’s worth doing so sooner rather than later.
Although you’ll usually receive your credit card between 10 and 14 days after you’ve been accepted, it can take up to six weeks for your card to arrive.
So applying for your plastic now, rather than closer to December, means you’re more likely to be able to take advantage of some great deals – and you’ll be less likely to end up relying on an uncompetitive credit card to see you through.
Here are some of the best credit card options depending on your circumstances:
If you know you won’t be able to pay off your credit card balance in full each month, a 0% purchase credit card is a great choice.
This type of credit card allows you to spread the cost of your Christmas spending over several months without paying interest.
The Post Office Matched credit card offers 0% on purchases for 27 months, so long as you spend on the card within the first three months. If you don't, your 0% purchase window will be reduced to 16 months. After the interest-free offer is up, you'll pay a representative rate of 18.9% APR (variable)* so try to clear your balance before then.
If you’re certain you can clear your credit card balance each month, it can still be worth using a credit card – particularly if it earns you cashback.
The American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card, for example, offers 5% cashback on spending of up to £2,000 in the first three months, making it ideal in the run-up to Christmas, and up to 1.25% thereafter.
The card has a representative rate of 22.9% APR (variable)** so be sure to clear your balance each month.
If you’d prefer to rack up points at your favourite supermarket, take a look at these options:
The Tesco Clubcard credit card for purchases allows you to earn five Clubcard points for every £4 you spend at Tesco stores and on Tesco fuel, plus one Clubcard point for every £4 spent elsewhere.
Be aware though, from December 1, you’ll only get one Clubcard point for every £8 you spend outside Tesco stores.
The card also offers 0% on purchases for 21 months and after that it charges a representative rate of 18.9% APR (variable).*
If you apply for the Sainsbury’s Nectar Purchase credit card before December 29, you'll earn four Nectar points per £1 spent at Sainsbury’s (groceries and fuel) for three months, and then two points for every £1 spent after that.
You'll also earn one Nectar point for every £5 spent elsewhere.
The card offers 25 months’ interest-free on purchases, but after that the card charges a representative rate of 18.9% APR (variable)***.
Asda also offers a credit card, though this allows you to earn cashback rather than reward points. You’ll earn 1% cashback on your Asda shopping and Asda fuel and 0.5% cashback everywhere else (T&Cs apply). The card has a representative rate of 18.9% APR (variable).*
The very best credit card deals are reserved for those with a top-notch credit score. But if yours isn’t perfect, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out completely.
The Barclaycard Initial with Purchases credit card is designed for those with a less-than-perfect credit score, and offers 0% on purchases for three months, plus £20 cashback after three months. This offer ends on December 1, so don’t delay your application if you’re interested. (T&Cs apply.)
Bear in mind you won’t be accepted for the card if you’ve received more than one County Court Judgment or have been declared bankrupt in the past six months. You’ll also need to have an annual income of more than £3,000. (Other conditions apply.)
The card has a credit limit of between £150 and £1,200, depending on your credit rating.
Before you apply, be sure you can clear your balance once the three months’ interest-free window is over and the representative rate of 34.9% APR (variable)**** kicks in.
Five things to remember with credit cards
1 - Failure to make a monthly payment on time can mean any introductory offers, such as 0% purchases, are withdrawn. So set up a monthly direct debit to ensure you pay on time.
2 - Try to pay off more than the minimum monthly repayment each month – you’ll pay off your debt faster and could save yourself interest.
3 - A credit limit isn’t a target – only spend what you can afford to pay back.
4 - Credit card purchases of between £100 and £30,000 are protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, so your card issuer and merchant are jointly liable if your purchases are faulty or if the seller goes bust.
5 - Applying for your credit card now, rather than leaving it until closer to December, means you’re more likely to be able to take advantage of these top deals for your Christmas shopping.
*Representative Example: If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 18.9% p.a. (variable) your representative rate will be 18.9% APR (variable).
** Representative Example: If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 22.9% p.a. (variable) your representative rate will be 22.9% APR (variable). You’ll earn 0.5% cashback on annual spends of £0 - £3,500, 1% cashback on annual spends of £3,501 - £7,500 and 1.25% cashback on annual spends of over £7,501.
***Representative Example: If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 18.95% p.a. (variable) your representative rate will be 18.9% APR (variable).
****Representative Example: If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 34.9% p.a. (variable) your representative rate will be 34.9% APR (variable).
All credit cards are subject to status and terms and conditions. Over 18s, UK residents only. Terms and conditions apply. See MoneySuperMarket.com for further information.
Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.