Having a credit card is great for shopping, but before you start flexing your wallet it’s important to do some warm up exercises. Give your shopping skills a good workout by first using them to choose which credit card is best for you.
There are quite a few different types of credit card available, and which one you choose can be quite an important decision. Luckily comparethemarket.com can help you look at the options and make the right choice.
Our credit cards page shows you the main eight kinds of credit cards, ranging from those that won’t charge you interest to move your existing credit card balance over to a new card, to those that charge zero interest on your purchases, or those that will give you a cashback or rewards for spending.
Rewards credit cards
Let’s look at that last one, rewards credit cards. As with any credit card, you can use these to spend up to a set limit, and you receive a monthly bill. You can pay off the full balance of the card each month, in which case you shouldn’t pay any interest (subject to exclusions and terms of your card). Or you can make a smaller payment, right down to a minimum set out by the provider, but you will have to pay interest on the balance left on the card.
Typically with an American Express, Mastercard or Visa rewards card you also get something on top as a thank you for your spending. This could be loyalty points for a supermarket or other store; cash back on purchases or with travel rewards credit cards, you might get travel points like Avios. Usually, you generate your rewards based on your spending, say by getting a reward point for every £1 you spend.
This kind of card rarely offers the lowest interest rates, so they’re best suited to people that usually pay the full balance on the card every month. If not, the interest you owe will probably be more than the value you’ve gained in your rewards.
But if you do clear your balance each month, you spend a lot in the same store all year, or you’re a regular flyer the rewards might build up to give you something for nothing.
A similar kind of card is the cashback card, which is a little less restricted. These give you cash every time you spend, and aren’t so closely linked to spending with a certain supermarket or airline. But they do often have limits on what you could earn in cash back each month.
Comparing credit cards
Comparethemarket.com makes it easy to look at the different offers and compare rewards credit cards. Just choose this area of our credit cards page and we will list out the latest offers from a wide range of providers. They are listed in order of Annual Percentage Rate (APR), with the lowest rate at the top.
The APR helps you understand how much it could cost you to use the card. The APR rate is one way to compare how much using a credit card will cost. So if the APR on a card is 17 per cent and you spend £1,000 on it, the interest and charges will mean that you are spending £170 on top of your debt. In the end, then, you will be paying back £1,170. Don’t forget there are other types of fees to take into account such as balance transfer fees or late payment charges.
The rewards cards shown are ordered by APR, but you will need to look at the details of the rewards you will get to see which card would work best for your type of spending.
Say you find a couple of travel rewards credit cards that sound good. Check the APR, whether it’s affordable to you what level of reward you will earn, and also if there are certain places that you need to shop to earn the rewards. Think ‘which credit card is best for me?’ before clicking through to apply with the credit card provider.
A final thing to pay attention to is introductory offers – where you might gain extra points or a better interest rate for a certain time period as this could also impact which card you choose.
Zero rate balance transfer cards
If you already have a credit card with an outstanding balance on it, rewards cards might not be the best choice.
You may benefit instead from choosing zero rate balance transfer credit card. These allow you to transfer the balance on your card to a new provider and pay zero interest on this amount for a set amount of time. That way you can work on paying back some of the debt.
However, it’s worth noting that most cards will have a balance transfer fee that will be applied when you move the balance over.
If you know that you will continue to spend on your credit card, you could choose a zero percent purchase credit card, which won’t charge interest on what you buy for a certain period of time.
Do bear in mind that if you’re asking yourself “which credit card is right for me?” one way of safe spending is to avoid having a credit card. But we know that credit are convenient ways to buy for many people. So use comparethemarket.com to help find out which is the best credit card to suit you, whether it’s one offering a zero percent balance transfer or a card that will give you free travel points towards your next holiday in the sun.