Best credit card offers and promotions (May 2021)

The best offers and promotions for credit cards from 0% interest through to introductory bonuses.

Used responsibly, credit cards can help you earn money on purchases, give you stronger consumer protections, make holidays cheaper, help you clear debts or spread the cost of a big purchase. 

Everyone’s situation will be different, so these are just the best cards out there – you might have to settle for a shorter deal or lower rate of cashback.

This list is updated at least every month – check the published date to see when this last happened.

best credit cards

Credit card rules

Why eligibility is more important than offers

I’m sharing here the cards which I think offer the best deals – the market-leading ones. But there’s no guarantee you’ll get accepted for these top cards so always do an eligibility check beforehand. Here’s more on why this is important and how these work.

I recommend going via Money Saving Expert’s own eligibility calculator as you have the advantage of seeing other options (n.b. this doesn’t show the full market – just cards they get a commission for).

You can also check directly with the card providers (and some make you do this before applying) but you miss out on seeing your chances for success with other companies if you skip the comparison site.

Why I’ve not listed interest rates

You’ll notice I don’t mention interest rates at all below. And the big reason is I don’t want you to get a credit card if you are going to get charged interest.

That means clearing the balance in full every month, or in the case of 0% interest cards, clearing the balance before that special offer ends.

If you think that you will have to pay interest some or most months then very simply you need to look for the lowest rate you can and ignore things like cashback.

The key rules with credit cards

One: Pay at least the minimum balance every month so you don’t get hit with extra charges or lose offers like 0% interest. A direct debit will make sure you don’t forget.

Two: Ideally pay the full amount each month to avoid interest. If you can’t clear it all then as much as you can afford minimises the interest you’ll be charged.

Three: Don’t spend what you can’t afford. Credit cards have uses, but they’re not an excuse to spend what you don’t have. Cashback cards, in particular, are pointless if you get charged interest.

Four: You often can’t transfer between credit cards with the same bank.

You can watch my latest video roundup or listen as you read

Best American Express cashback & reward credit card deals

I’ve got a full guide to cashback and reward credit cards, but here are the top picks

Amex Preferred Rewards Gold: Up to £184 in bonuses

The top pick is the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card if you haven’t already had an Amex welcome offer.

This card offers 20,000 bonus points if you spend £3,000 in the first three months, plus the equivalent of 0.5% back in rewards for each £1 spent.

You can swap these bonus points for a £100 gift card, or if you are happy to swap your points for Nectar points, these are boosted to £160. Factor in the additional points you’ll earn with spending that first £3k this adds up to £184. Read more about the card here.

And this is boosted until 12th May 2021 if you are referred by a friend (details below) to a total of £175, or £280 if swapped to Nectar.

Amex Nectar: Up to 1% cashback

The American Express Nectar credit card offers two Nectar points on each £1 spent, the equivalent of 1% back. With the drop in cashback from the Amex Platinum Cashback card in July this is the best paying card if you’re not eligible for a reward bonus.

It comes with a £25 annual fee though it’s free in year one.

There’s also a 20,000 Nectar point bonus for the first three months if you spend £2,000, which is worth an extra £100 alongside the £20 you’ll make from that spending. You can’t have had an Amex in your name in the last two years to get this welcome bonus.

Referral bonus: Up to £96

Go via cashback sites Quidco or TopCashback and you can get a little more back when you apply, usually between £5 and £30 depending on the card you are applying for and which site you use (it’s worth checking both).

Or if a friend already has an Amex then ask for their referral code. Again it varies as to whether this will beat the cashback site rate. You can use my link here.

New to cashback sites? Get a bonus of up to £17

Quidco new members can get £17 when they spend £10, while TopCashbcack new members can get £10 when they spend £10

The best Visa and Mastercard cashback & reward credit cards

Not everywhere takes American Express so if you want to earn money on your other spending then you’ve got limited choices.

Barclaycard: 0.25% back

This Barclaycard Rewards credit card is a Visa and my top back up to Amex as the credit is given in full every 12 months. It’s also fee free to use abroad.

Natwest: 0.25% back / 1% at supermarkets

If you have a Natwest Reward current account (here’s my review) then you’ll automatically be refunded the annual £24 fee on this Reward credit card. It’s a Mastercard which also offers 0.25% back, or an increased 1% at supermarkets. You need to earn £5 back before you can cash it in.

John Lewis: 1.25% at John Lewis & Waitrose / 0.25% elsewhere

If you regularly shop at John Lewis or Waitrose then the John Lewis & Partners Mastercard is worth a look. It offers 0.25% on most shopping, but increases to 1.25% for John Lewis/Waitrose spends. You’ll be paid in £5 vouchers each time you reach 500 points.

Amazon: Up to 1.5% at Amazon / 0.25% elsewhere

Or there’s the Amazon Platinum card. This also gives 0.25% at most retailers, except at Amazon where you get 1.5% if you have Prime, 0.75% if you don’t. You’ll get paid in Amazon vouchers worth £10 when you earn 10,000 points. It’s issued by Mastercard and New Day.

There’s usually a £10 gift card when you get accepted, but at times it’s boosted to £20, and £30 for Prime members.

Best travel credit cards

Here’s more on the best cards to use overseas – including debit cards.

Barclaycard: Fee-free spending, withdraws and 0.25% cashback

The Barclaycard Rewards credit card is a good all-rounder to use abroad as there are no charges – not even interest on cash withdrawals. You’ll also earn some cashback!

Andy’s podcast

Listen to Cash Chats, Andy’s twice weekly podcast. Episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

Best 0% Purchase card deals

Longest: Up to 21 months

Lloyds Bank is offering up to 21 months at 0% interest on purchases. You’ll get a guaranteed 20 months with M&S and Barclaycard if accepted.

Spending rewards: Up to £50

There are two cards from Sainsbury’s Bank offering bonus Nectar points. The first has up to 21 months spending at 0% interest and will also give you 750 bonus points the first 10 times you spend £35 or more at Sainsbury’s in the first two months (so that’s up to £37.50 worth).

The other card is up to 17 months but has 10,000 bonus Nectar points (worth £50) if you spend £400 in the first two months at Sainsbury’s, Argos or Habitat. You need a Nectar card to get this one.

Bonus cashback: Up to £30

Cashback sites Quidco and TopCashback offer between £20 and £30 to successful applicants for credit cards from Santander, Tesco and Barclaycard.

Best Balance Transfer card deals

Before you get a 0% balance transfer card make sure you read my guide to how to properly use them to reduce the cost of debts.

Longest: Up to 29 months at 0% with fee

The longest offers right now offer 29 months at 0% interest. The lowest transfer fee at this length is with HSBC or M&S Bank, both charging 2.75%.

Cheapest: 18 months interest-free with no fee

Santander will give any successful applicant for its Everyday credit card 18 months at 0% interest with no fee to move the money over.

Bonus cashback: Up to £30

You can get up to £30 cashback via Quidco and TopCashback for Santander’s Everyday credit card. Since this card has no transfer fee you’re making money!

There’s also £20 back for Barclaycard (24 months) and Tesco Bank balance transfer cards.

This could work out better than the no-fee option. So for example, the Barclaycard Platinum transfer fee is 0.9%. Transfer £2,222 or less and the cashback wipes out the fee.

You can also get £25 back on HSBC credit cards via Money Supermarket and Money Saving Expert until 15 June 2021.

Andy’s YouTube

Watch new videos every week on the Andy Clever Cash channel, plus a regular live Q&A

Best 0% Money Transfer card deals

You can read more about Money Transfer cards in my guide.

Longest at 0%: Up to 18 months

MBNA is offering up to 18 months with a 2.99% or 3.49% fee. You might get offered a shorter 14 months.

Bonus cashback: £20

Tesco Bank offers up to 15 months with a 3.99% transfer fee, but go via Quidco or TopCashback and you’ll get a £20 bonus.

Best credit building credit card

If you’ve got a poor credit rating then spending on a credit card and then clearing the debt completely each month can help boost your score.

I’ve written in detail about this type of card, so make sure you check it out.

Bonus cashback: £20 cashback

If you’re eligible for the Barclaycard Forward card then apply via Quidco or TopCashback to get £20 cashback.

Bonus voucher: £20 Amazon voucher

The Amazon Classic credit card works like other credit building cards but also comes with a free Amazon voucher. It’s usually £10 but is currently boosted to £20. There’s also three months 0% interest on purchases.

Get paid to switch bank

Check out the latest bank switching incentives, plus the current accounts with the best rewards, cheapest overdraft and highest interest.

best bank switching offers

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