The latest news to help you get the most from your credit card.
Here’s my monthly update sharing changes for leading UK credit cards, as well as some of the relevant articles you might have missed on the blog.
December’s credit card & BNPL update video
I go into more detail on some of this month’s updates in this video.
December’s credit card & BNPL news
Experian free access on MSE Credit Club ends
Users of Money Saving Expert’s Credit Club received emails this week sharing a huge change to its credit score checker, Credit Club.
Soon (no date was given), they’ll be changing from using your Experian credit report to the one from TransUnion.
MSE’s press office told me “We’re switching to TransUnion because Experian will no longer supply us the credit file, and as far as we know (though we can’t confirm) it won’t be supplying to any free third parties – which we agree is a shame for the market. Yet, MSE’s new credit club is going to be a better tool than we have now, so it’s really good news for our users.”.
(It’s worth noting that Experian told me the change was because MSE have decided to use a different supplier).
So is it good news? Well we’ll have to wait and see what the new service provides. But as it is we can already access our TransUnion reports for free via the credit reference agency’s own Credit Karma service.
What it does mean, which is bad news, is that there’s no longer (or at least unlikely) to be an easy and free way to get the Experian report. Which does matteer.
There are three different credit reports out there – Experian, TransUnion and Equifax (which can be checked via ClearScore) – and you need to be across each one.
You will still be able to see your Experian report. You can take out a 30 day free trial of their CreditExpert service, but that then costs £14.99 a month. Or you can request your free statutory report – but that’ll take five to seven days to be with you.
I checked in with Experian about the latter, and there are no restrictions on how often you can request this – just bear in mind the format won’t be as accessible as it currently is with MSE or via CreditExpert.
You will still be able to see your Experian score for free, and you can get that direct if you sign up for an Experian account.
Amex Shop Small returns (but smaller)
One of my favourite promotions returns this month, but it’s far less lucrative than in previous years. The American Express Shop Small offer will run this year from Friday 1 to Sunday 3 December – a far cry from the 10 days in 2023 and two weeks in years before that.
Another change is a reduction in redemptions. You can now only use the offer three times per card, down from five. Since you’ll get £5 back for a £15 spend, it means the most you’ll make per card is now £15. Just a few years ago you could make £50, and spend less to earn it too.
However, it doesn’t mean you should ignore it. I’ve detailed here how to take advantage, and how to boost your returns this weekend.
Amex offers BA tier status
I almost didn’t share this as it’s so niche, but it could be of interest for anyone with a British Airways American Express Premium Plus card.
This new offer (you need to opt in via the offers section of your account) where your spending can earn you tier points for British Airways. This can get you extra features and benefits on flights, including free seat selection, lounge access and more.
However, you will need to spend a lot of money to trigger the points, and you need to do this by 21 May 2024, so in just six months time. Here are the thresholds:
- 100 tier points when you spend £15,000
- 50 extra points if you spend another £5,000
- a final 50 points if you spend another £5,000
That means you’ll get the perks on a spend of up to £25,000, and no more above this (though who’s spending more than £25,000 in six months?!)
And even then they might not be enough alone to move you up the different tiers.
- Bronze requires 300 points
- Silver requires 600 points
- Gold requires 1,500 points
So you’ll obviously need to be flying BA to earn the additional points needed to reach each status level.
Halifax also offers World Elite cashback card
- 0.5% cashback on purchases up to a £15,000 annual spend
- 1% cashback on spending above this (resets every 12 months)
- Priority Pass membership (access to participating airport lounges)
- Airport fast track (where it’s offered) so you can skip security queues
To get this you’ll pay £15 a month, so £180 a year. I don’t think that’s worth it. For a start you can beat those cashback rates with Chase’s debit card and a number of Amex cards.
So you’re really just paying for the airport features. This is far cheaper than buying the full Priority Pass direct (at £419 a year), especially since an additional Lloyds cardholder will get their own access too. So huge savings.
But you’ve got to ask yourself if you really need them? Unless you are travelling all the time, you can probably make do with pay as you go lounge passes, costing between £20 and £40 most of the time. You’ll pay the lower amounts if you book in advance.
Or you could get the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold credit card which gives you four Priority Pass visits and is free in the first year. It’s £195 in year two.
But for regular travellers it might be worth a look purely to make waiting at the airport less stressful. I’d still look elsewhere for the cashback though.
December’s credit card special offers
Get Amex Boosts Platinum welcome offer now – or wait
Last time I told you of some new Amex welcome deals, including a huge one for the Platinum card. I won’t go over in details how to stack each element of the deal again, but there’s one thing worth adding.
A big perk of this card is the £150 credit you get to spend in restaurants each year. Another is the £50 credit to spend at Harvey Nicholls. Both reset on 1 January 2024.
However, since it can take a week for your application to be approved and the card to arrive, you’ll either want to apply in the first week of December so there’s definitely enough time to use those offers before New Year’s Eve.
If that’s not possible, I’d instead apply as close to the deadline of 9 January 2024 as possible. That’ll then mean you’ve got the first week of 2025 to also redeem the promotions (assuming they’re still running then).
Asda Money card £20 welcome
John Lewis card £40 welcome
Similarly, you can get £40 in John Lewis vouchers if you sign up for the John Lewis credit card by 8 January 2024 and spend £250 at either John Lewis or Waitrose in the first 90 days. More here.
M&S card £40 welcome
And finally, you can also get £40 in vouchers, though this time for M&S if you sign up for the Marks and Spencer credit card by 2 January 2024. You’ll need to spend £250 across five or more transactions in the first 90 days. More here.
This month’s best credit cards
As always when talking about credit cards the best credit card for you will depend on your credit report and why you need one. Make sure you read my rules for having and applying for a credit card.
But assuming you’ve got a great credit report, don’t need one to clear existing debts and will clear the balance completely each month, these are my top picks:
Andy’s Top Three Credit Cards (December 2023)
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