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Earn as much as 5% back when you spend from the likes of American Express, Amazon and John Lewis.

Pretty much every time I spend money I am earning money. Ok, only a little bit but it all adds up. Don’t roll your eyes. It really does. The way I do this is through a cashback credit card, or more accurately, through a couple of cashback credit cards.

Rates aren’t as good as they were a few years ago, and there are fewer cashback cards available, but even if you’re only getting 0.5% I think it’s worth having in your wallet. Fortunately, it’s possible to get more than that with introductory offers.

My first pick to use is an American Express Platinum, which gave me 5% to start and now gives me 1% on every full pound I spend. Then I have two new cards to my wallet. Sadly in late 2019 Tandem axed its card to new customers, so I’d look at a John Lewis card which gives 0.5% back (min £2 spend though). Next up is Amazon’s Platinum which as a Prime member doubles my rewards, as well as giving me a welcome voucher.

Below you’ll be able to read more about these and other decent cashback and reward cards, and I’ll keep coming to this page to and updating it as deals change. But first, a really important rule if you are using one.

Always pay off the balance in full every month

There’s no point using a cashback credit card if you’re going to get charged interest on your purchase. My new Amazon Platinum card charges almost 25%, which would quickly eat up the 1.5% equivalent in reward vouchers.So make sure you set up a Direct Debit to clear the full balance. If you can’t afford to do that, then a credit card probably isn’t your best option except for emergencies. I’ve written more about clearing credit card debts, so do read that.

It’s also worth doing an “eligibility check” before you apply if you can. This gives you a sense of whether you’ll be accepted, though not a guarantee. However if you get rejected it can hurt your credit score.

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Reward points & air miles vs cashback credit cards

There are two types of card which earn you money as you spend. Cashback credit cards pay you back in cold, hard cash. Well, it’s usually credit to your card, but you get to spend that as you want. 

If you’re able to put most spending on an American Express, then I think the first card is the better of the two Amex Platinum Cashback credit cards, even though it’s got a fee as the extra cashback cancels this out. However in year two it might be worth closing it down an opening up an alternative.

Reward cards are slightly different as you get points, which are usually then transferred into vouchers at the linked retailer. Sometimes the points are for airline schemes and you use them to get cheap flights or upgrades.However these come with restrictions so unless you fly regularly and rack up lots of these I think you’re better off avoiding these.

American Express vs Mastercard vs Visa

The best cashback deals for a long time have been via American Express, and I always try to use an Amex to pay. But try is the operative word there, as some retailers still don’t accept the card.So I make sure I’ve also got an alternative cashback credit card on me that’s either Visa or Mastercard. I did use the Tandem Cashback card for this, but that closed in early March 2020, so I’ve since replaced it with the John Lewis Partnership card.

My top cashback and reward credit cards

American Express (Amex) Platinum Cashback Credit Card – £125 bonus and up to 1.25% back

Great for the highest cashback rates and starting bonus

Though this card comes with a £25 fee, you’re able to earn more in the promotional three months than the fee-free equivalent. Plus you can get £30 (at the time of writing) extra through applying for the card via cashback site Quidco. It’s worth looking at the fee-free alternative (here’s my comparison of the two) if you don’t think you’ll be spending much.

What you can earn:

  • 5% for the first three months (up to £2,500 spend) – worth up £125
  • 1% on spend up to £10,000 – worth up to £100
  • 1.25% on spend over £10,000 – no cap
  • Additional cashback offers you can add to your card throughout the year via your account
  • More on this and other American Express credit cards

Fees, details and how to apply:

  • £25 annual fee
  • Get a bonus £20 cashback when you apply via Quidco
  • Not joined a cashback site? Get an extra £17 bonus when you sign up
  • Got a friend with one? See if they’ve got a referral code to earn you both some cash

Amazon Platinum Credit Card – up to 1.5% back and £20 voucher

Great for Amazon Prime members

A really decent deal if you spend at Amazon and are an Amazon Prime member (if you’re not you can join free for 30-days then £79 a year). You also get cashback on every penny spent, not just full pounds, which is great.

However, since 29th April 2019 the non-Amazon spending rate dropped from 0.5% to 0.25% meaning it’s not as good as the Amex cards for spending outside of Amazon.

A joining offer comes and goes, but sometimes there is a £10 or £20 Amazon voucher for successful applicants, so take a look. For Black Friday it was a huge £30 voucher.

What you can earn:

  • Prime members: 3 Amazon reward points for every £2 spent at Amazon (equivalent to 1.5%)
  • Prime members: 0.5 Amazon reward points for every £2 spent elsewhere (equivalent to 0.25%)
  • Everyone else: 1.5 Amazon reward points for every £2 spent at Amazon (equivalent to 0.75%)
  • Everyone else: 0.5 Amazon reward points for every £2 spent elsewhere (equivalent to 0.25%)
  • 1,000 points = £10 Amazon voucher
  • No cap on annual rewards you can earn

Fees, details and how to apply:

John Lewis Partnership card –  up to 1% back

Every 500 points you earn are converted to £5 vouchers and send in the post up to three times a year – so you will have to wait to spend your rewards.

The card is also interest-free for the first nine months and you can use it as a balance transfer card too for 18 months (2.9% fee).The amount of points you can earn will change in September 2020.From time to time there are welcome bonuses – for example, I got a free £30 when I joined up in February 2020.

What you can earn (until 3rd September 2020):

  • 1 point per £1 spent at JL or Waitrose (worth 1%)
  • 1 point per £2 spent elsewhere (worth 0.5%)

What you can earn (from 4th September 2020):

  • 4 point per £5 spent at JL or Waitrose (worth 1.25%)
  • 1 point per £4 spent elsewhere (worth 0.25%)

Fees, details and how to apply:

Other cashback and reward credit cards

These are mainly American Express alternatives which could work out better for you depending on your situation.

M&S Bank – £25 bonus and up to 2% back

Great for regular M&S shoppers, and a £25 joining bonus

The big draw with the Reward Plus card is actually the incentive for applying – a free £20 voucher. You just need to use the card within 90 days – you could even buy a single banana. There’s also another fiver you’ll get with your card.

You also get double points when you shop at M&S, making it the equivalent of 2% cashback. That’s very good if you regularly shop at Marks. But the Amex and John Lewis cards are better options for spending elsewhere.

What you can earn:

  • 2,000 points (worth £20) after three months as long as you use the card in the first 90 days
  • 500 points (worth £5) sent with your new card
  • 2 points (i.e. 2%) per £1 spent at M&S for the first 12 months, then 1 point per £1
  • 1 point per £5 (i.e. 0.2%) spent elsewhere
  • 0% purchase for first six months
  • No cap on annual cashback you can earn

Fees, details and how to apply:

American Express (Amex) Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card – £100 bonus and up to 1% back

What you can earn:

  • 5% for the first three months (up to £2,000 spend) – worth up £100
  • 0.5% after on spend up to £5,000 – worth up to £25
  • 1% on spend over £5,000 – no cap

Fees, details and how to apply:

American Express (Amex) Nectar Credit Card – £100 bonus and up to 1.5% back

What you can earn:

  • Bonus 20,000 Nectar points when you spend £2,000 in your first three months – worth £100
  • 2 point for every £1 spent (equivalent to 1%)
  • 3 points for every £1 spent at most Nectar partners (equivalent to 1.5%)

Fees, details and how to apply:

Read more about other American Express cashback credit cards here.

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