(N.B Offers and rates change, so make sure you read the card providers details if you apply.)
1. The Cashback Credit Card
If you can keep tabs on your spending, these are great little earners.
Whenever I can, I use my Santander and Amex cashback credit cards instead of cash or my debit cards. Then I pay them off in full at the end of the month. At the end of the month I receive a percentage of certain purchases back to my card. Quids in!
Don’t spend more than you have! With online banking and apps it’s now really easy to stay on top of what you have spent and what’s in your account. OnTrees is a really good tool to have for this. BUT don’t even try this if that idea scares you.
Here are some of our current top picks:
Though there is a £2 per month fee, you can easily recover that on the cashback. Look out for offers that waive the fee if you have a 123 Current Account with them.
You’ll earn 3% on travel (up to £9 cashback per month – i.e. £300 spend per month), 2% on department store spend and 1% on supermarket spend. Full details of which stores are included and a handy calculator are on their site.
They can be difficult to get, and sometimes difficult to pay with (though both are less and less the case nowadays), but Amex leads the way.
Right now the Amex Platinum Everyday offers 5% cashback for the first three months (Max of £100 – i.e. when you spend £2000), then 0.5% on total annual spend up to £3,500, 1% on total spend between £3,500 and £7,500 and 1.5% cashback after that.
REMEMBER YOU MUST PAY IT OFF IN FULL EACH MONTH VIA DIRECT DEBIT.
(1b. The Not Quite Cashback)
The Amex Preferred Rewards Gold Card isn’t strictly a credit card. Nor is it cashback. But for all intents and purposes this is another good card. You actually earn points which you can convert to cash, other scheme points like Avios, or into gift cards at places like Tesco and Amazon. You get 1 point for most spend (only full £, so you lose out on pence) and 2 points for travel and supermarket spending. You get a bonus 20,000 points if you spend £3,000 in the first three months. How much each point is worth depends how you cash it in, but the bonus would currently get you a £100 gift card.
The fee is waived for the first year but is £125 after that, so set your diary to cancel it before renewal.
You also often get special deals and bonuses with Amex cards. Recent deals include getting £5 to write a TripAdvisor review or £5 back when you spend £10 in Tesco.
2. The Overseas Spending Credit Card
You should never use your credit card (or debit card) abroad unless you have one with special rates. With most cards you’ll be charged various fees, inflated exchange rates and interest on cash withdrawals, making them really expensive.
I have a Halifax Clarity card which is free to use for purchases worldwide (though as it’s Mastercard not everywhere takes it). For most of the year it sits in a drawer, but it saved us around £60 on a recent weekend in Paris (compared to if I’d used my Barclaycard).
PAY IT OFF IN FULL EACH MONTH VIA DIRECT DEBIT OTHERWISE IT’S NOT WORTH IT.
3. The 0% Purchase Credit Card
Say you’ve a big purchase coming up – home repairs, a wedding for example – then it may be worth considering a 0% purchase card.
0% cards let you spend on the card for a certain time before you start paying interest. So if you know you can afford something but need to spread the payments out, this card would let you do it. Don’t get one if you can’t afford what you are buying. As with Balance Transfer cards, you must pay minimum repayments each month. Miss one and you may lose the deal.
PAY THE MOST YOU CAN EACH MONTH AND PLAN HOW YOU’LL CLEAR IT BY THE END OF THE DEAL.
Remember, each time you apply for a card, the provider will check your credit report. If they don’t like the look of you, you might not get the advertised deal – or even be rejected outright. If you are planning on getting a mortgage in the next three to six months, avoid any new applications.