Play your cards right: The best credit cards for spending, holidays, rewards or clearing your debts
Are you planning on making a big purchase? Do you need to clear your debts once and for all? Or have you decided now is the time to become more spending savvy and get some rewards from your everyday costs?
Whatever you are thinking of doing, if it is going to involve a credit card, then it is essential that you get the right one.
If used correctly, credit cards can help you get something back or spread the cost of things that you are spend on.??
There are also plenty of deals around that could help you to avoid crippling interest rates on existing debt and pay off what you owe. (Remember use credit cards badly and they can spell bad news though.)
Play your cards right: This is Money has rounded up the best credit card offers?
This is Money has scoured the market and picked out what we believe are the best credit card deals to help you make the most of your money.?
We pick these because we think that they offer something that makes them stand out from the crowd, they may not always have the absolute lowest rate or longest special offer, but they are judged by our independent research to offer a good deal.
This page is kept up-to-date throughout the year - bookmark it for the very latest developments.
>> For tables of the latest best rates head over to our credit card comparison tool
Best credit card for clearing debt
0 per cent balance transfer credit cards
If you’ve racked up a load of debt and have decided to make a fresh start on tackling it, zero per cent balance transfer cards could be the way to go.
Moving your debt to an interest-free card means that you can freeze the size of your debt, rather than continually play catch-up as interest piles on the pounds.
Make sure you stick to the rules though and clear your debt within the time period, otherwise you could be hit with high interest rates - and remember card firms offer interest-free periods because they manage to catch so many people out.?
The right balance transfer card for you depends on your circumstances, so rather than recommend one 'best' option here, we would instead recommend readers go to?our in-depth guide to 0 per cent balance transfer cards for the best deal.
Best credit cards for spending on big purchases
0 per cent purchase credit cards
If you’re planning some home improvements or large purchases in the near future and need some extra cash for spending, as long as you are confident you can pay off the full amount within 24 months or slightly longer to?avoid high interest rates, a 0 per cent purchase card could be a good option for you.?
Remember, you will need to be disciplined about clearing the balance before the end of the term, otherwise interest on the remaining amount will quickly make it an expensive option.?
Before you apply, read more about how to avoid the 0 per cent interest traps?here?
|Top deals?||Purchase offer?||Extras?||Standard APR?||?||?|
|31 months?||3 months 0% balance transfers, 3% fee, Nectar points for spending plus earn 1,000 Nectar points each time you use this card to spend ￡35 or more on Sainsbury's shopping in first 2 months (max 10,000)||18.9%?||?||?|
|Post Office Matched?||30?||30 months 0% balance transfers, 2.75% fee?||18.9%?||?||?|
|Santander Everyday??||30?||30 months ?0% balance transfers ,2.75% fee||18.9%?||?||?|
|Halifax?||30 months?||6 months 0% balance transfers made within 90 days, 3% fee,||18.9%?||?||?|
|30 months?||30 months 0% balance transfer if made within the first 3 months, 2.74% fee (then 3%)||18.9%?||?||?|
|Tesco Bank ?||30 ?months||3 months?0% balance transfers, 2.9% fee||18.9%?||?||?|
|AA Dual Credit Card?||28 months?||12 months 0% balance transfer if made within 3 months, 2.7% fee.?||18.9%?||?||?|
|Correct as of November 3||?||?||?||?|
PROTECTING YOUR MONEY
Another major bonus with rewards cards is the consumer protection you are entitled to, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
Put simply, if you use the credit card to buy something worth more than ￡100, here or abroad, the card issuer is equally liable if something goes wrong.
Could you be better with a long-term low rate instead??
If you are happy to sidestep a 0 per cent interest period, another credit card option for anyone wanting to take the pressure off paying within a set time period is a permanent low-interest card.
Missing payments, paying late or spending beyond your limit risk losing an interest-free term which can quickly land you in hot water when standard interest at 18 or 19 per cent is slapped on your remaining balance.?
The benefit is that if you decide not to pay off the entire balance every month, you will only have to pay minimal interest.
You must have a good credit rating to be approved.
Alternatively the MBNA 5 credit card offers a rate 1 per cent lower at 4.9 per cent on purchases and balance transfers - but only if you make them both within the first 60 days of account opening. After that and once the promotional period ends the rate jumps to 8.9 per cent.
Check out this is Money's favourite low-rate credit card here
Best credit cards for rewards
Over recent years some of the most lucrative schemes have unfortunately been scrapped or scaled back.?
But there are still a few cards that if you do it right, could earn you ￡1,000s worth of goods and services for free.?
Remember: Each company operates under their own points system, so make sure you check what each point is actually worth – something that may appear to offer huge bonuses could in reality be almost worthless.?
Travel rewards: pay with a credit card to get deals on trips
Best for airline points: British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card
Your choice of rewards card will largely depend on which airlines you prefer because a combination of credit card and frequent flyer points are going to get you the best discounts.?
However, if you are a big spender, the British Airways Amex card?is one of the most lucrative deals on the market.
?What do you get?
The major crowdpleaser is the free companion ticket if you spend more than ￡10,000 a year - remember you still have to foot the bill for taxes, fees and charges though.
The sign-up bonuses are good, too. At the moment you get 25,000 Avios points when you successfully apply and spend ￡3,000 within the first three months.
Cardholders can get?automatic enrollment to the British Airways Executive Club, which includes priority on standby waiting lists, 24/7 support when traveling outside the UK through Global Assist, and travel accident insurance of up to ￡75,000 on public transport when booked with your Amex card.?
You get 1.5 Avios points for each ￡1 you spend. You also get three Avios point for every ￡1 you spend with British Airways or BA holidays.?
As a guideline - ?You will need 9,000 points for a return flight to Berlin, 15,000 gets you as far as Rome and 20,000 buys you a return flight to Moscow.
Points expire after 36 months if you don't add to your account.??
There is a ￡195 annual fee and the 22.9 per cent rate on purchases means you need to make sure you pay the card off in full each month.
To be eligible you must have a household income of ￡30,000 and no history of bad credit.?
Dream holiday: A specialist travel credit card won't charge you extra for spending abroad
Best for overseas spending: Creation
Creation is a relative newcomer to the market which may put some people off, but it has the lowest APR attached to an overseas card at just 12.9 per cent.
What it offers
The card charges 12.9 per cent interest on balance transfers, purchases and cash advances - that's around 6 per cent lower than a typical credit card.
Use the card to make a purchase or cash take out money from an ATM abroad and there are no extra foreign transaction fees or cash advance fees.?
Watch out for?
Only those with the best credit ratings will be offered the low 12.9 per cent interest rate.You could be offered a rate of either 17.9 per cent or 21.9 per cent.???
Interest is applied immediately on all cash withdrawals so try to repay the amount in full as quickly as possible to minimise the cost. However at 12.9 per cent, the rate will be lower than most typical credit cards apply.?
Purchases made abroad will not clock up any interest if you make sure to repay before the date shown on your statement.?
THIS IS MONEY'S FIVE OF THE BEST HOLIDAY MONEY DEALS
Halifax's Clarity Credit Card charges no fees on overseas purchases and withdrawals - but remember interest will be applied immediately, so make sure to pay off holiday spends quickly. 18.9% APR.
The American Express Premium Plus Credit Card offers a 25,000 free Avios boost when you spend ￡3,000 in the first three months. Plus its pays 1.5 Avios per ￡1 spent on the card. It carries a ￡195 annual fee. 76% APR.
Santander's Zero Credit Card offers fee-free overseas spending and cash withdrawals. There is no annual fee but remember to clear the amount quickly as interest of 18.9% APR is applied to overseas transactions immediately.
FairFX is offering This is Money readers a free prepaid Mastercard currency exchange card. It offers highly competitive exchange rates, no foreign transaction fees and low cash withdrawal charges abroad. It also comes with a ￡10 bonus when you top up.
Metro Bank lets you use your debit card for free in Europe for both spending and cash withdrawals. In the rest of the world it costs ￡2.50 with an extra ￡1.50 cash withdrawal fee.
Top offers: shoppers can rack up points using Tesco's Clubcard credit card
Best rewards cards for supermarkets: Tesco Clubcard Credit Card for Purchases
The card that’s right for you will depend on where you like to shop, but the Tesco Clubcard Credit Card for Purchases is particularly rewarding for supermarket spending.??
It gives one Clubcard point for every ￡4 you spend on it in Tesco stores or on Tesco Fuel and one point for ever ￡8 spent elsewhere. This is in addition to the 1 point per ￡1 you already earn using its loyalty scheme.
One point is worth 1p if spent in-store at Tesco and 4p if redeemed using Tesco's Clubcard rewards vouchers.?
These can be used for a variety of restaurants, cinemas and other entertainment venues, as well as travel, through Avios.??
The small print
Points expire after two years and rewards vouchers, two-and-a-half.
Make sure you pay the card off in full each month otherwise rewards will be quickly cancelled out.
Points will not be awarded for some products, including tobacco or tobacco related products, lottery, stamps, prescription medicines, infant formula milk, Tesco Gift Cards, saving stamps, Esso fuel, Paypoint payments or for purchases of some Tesco Bank products.?
Tip yourself: Earn a percentage of your credit card spending back
Best credit card for cashback: American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday Card
You will need to spend at least ￡3,000 on the card each year to qualify for the cashback.
What do you get?
Spend ￡2,000 on your Platinum Cashback Card?in the first three months and you will receive ￡100 in cashback
You can also earn cashback on supermarket and petrol spends, as well as travel and entertainment. In fact, you can earn money on virtually all your everyday purchases.
After the first three months the rate drops from the 5 per cent introductory offer to a maximum of 1 per cent.
- Spend ￡0 to ￡5,000 and receive 0.5% cashback on that spend
- Spend above ￡5,000, receive 1% cashback on that spend
You are also eligible for travel accident insurance for up to ￡150,000 on public transport when you buy your ticket with your card.
Complimentary supplementary cards for family members are available, generating even more cashback for your account.
The small print
You must spend a minimum of ￡3,000 a year to qualify for cashback.?
Cashback is not earned on balance transfers, cash advances, American Express travellers cheques purchases, foreign exchange transactions or interest.
Remember, cashback incentives are there to encourage you to buy more on your card - and pay higher interest charges.
The 22.9 per cent APR means you should pay off your balance in full every month to avoid hefty charges.?
THIS IS MONEY'S FIVE OF THE BEST CREDIT CARDS
Barclaycard's Platinum Extended Balance Transfer card gives 38 months of 0% interest on balance transfers for a 1.4% handling fee if made within the first 60 days. Make sure to clear the balance before interest shoots up to 19.9% APR
Sainsbury's Bank's Nectar Credit Card offers 32 months 0% interest on purchases. Shoppers earn 1,000 bonus Nectar points per ￡35 supermarket spend (up to 10,000) in the first two months. 18.9% APR
The Lloyds Bank Platinum Credit Card charges 5.7% APR - the lowest interest rates available. The no-frills card also comes with no handling fees on balance transfers.
The Amex BA Premium Plus Credit Card offers 25,000 Avios if you spend ￡3,000 in the first 3 months. Plus a ￡10,000 annual spend get you a free companion ticket. The card comes with an annual fee of ￡195 per year. 76.9% APR
M&S Bank's Reward Plus Credit Card gives a ￡20 voucher when you sign up plus double reward points on spending for the first year. You also get 6 months 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers (2.9% transfer fee). 18.9% APR
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