The best reward credit cards (December 2023)

Earn vouchers or Avois on your spending.

One of the easiest ways I make money is by using a specialist cashback or reward card for my spending.

Some of the highest-earning ones are reward credit cards, giving you points on your spending that can be used towards vouchers and flights.

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Reward vs cashback credit cards

The big difference between reward and cashback credit cards is that with the former you earn points rather than actual money. And most of the time those points are restricted in how you use them, usually with a specific retailer or airline.

You’ll often find that these cards also require you to earn a certain threshold of points before you can swap them for a voucher to spend. This can mean if you stop using your card it can leave you with a stack of inaccessible points.

However, the highest paying reward cards can beat the best paying cashback credit cards (though not necessarily cashback debit cards). And there are some big welcome bonuses available on top, that you can potentially stack – if you choose the right cards.

Andy’s reward credit card rules

Below you’ll be able to read more about the best reward cards. But first, a really important rule if you are using a cashback credit card.

Always pay off the balance in full every month

There’s no point using a reward credit card if you’re going to get charged interest on your purchase. 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.

Read more about these credit card rules here.

Best American Express reward credit cards

I’ve only listed my top Amex reward cards below. For other American Express cards, make sure you check out my guide to the best Amex options.

American Express reward cards can earn Amex Reward, Avios or Nectar points, though both the Reward and Avios points can be swapped to Nectar.

American Express Nectar Credit Card

£100 bonus and 1% back

This card is worth 1% as you’ll get two Nectar points back for every £1 spent. However, you are limited where you use your points to just Nectar partners.

The points can be used at face value in these and a few other shops. Here are the best ways to use Nectar points.

There’s also a bonus worth £100 if you spend £2,000 in the first three months. A £30 fee is waived in the first year but will cut into your return from year two onwards.

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%)

Fees, details and how to apply:

  • Points claimed via Nectar account
  • £30 annual fee (free in your first year)
  • Get a bonus £20 cashback when you apply via TopCashback or similar via a referral link (rates can vary)
  • Not joined a cashback site? Get an extra £10 to £17 bonus when you sign up

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card

A bigger welcome bonus and up to 1% back

You’ll earn fewer points with this card – just one Amex Reward point per £1 spent – but you’ll have greater flexibility in how you use them and be able to earn a larger welcome bonus (though it will rule you out of getting the Platinum bonus at a later date).

A massive £195 fee is waived in the first year so it makes sense to cancel it after year one.

What you can earn:

  • Bonus 20,000 Reward points when you spend £3,000 in your first three months (often boosted – see the latest offer here)
  • 1 point for every £1 spent (equivalent to 0.5%)
  • 2,500 point bonus for every £5,000 you spend (increases equivalent return up to 0.75%, or up to 1% if converted to Nectar via Avios).
  • £5 Deliveroo credit twice a month
  • 4 Priority Pass lounge visits
  • Read my full review

Fees, details and how to apply:

  • Points redeemed via Amex account
  • £195 annual fee (free in your first year)
  • Get £70 bonus cashback when you apply via TopCashback or via a referral link (rates can vary)
  • Not joined a cashback site? Get an extra £10 to £17 bonus when you sign up

Avios credit cards

Barclaycard Avios credit card

Equivalent of 0.67% back in Nectar points & £33 welcome bonus

Both Barclaycard and American Express offer paid and free credit cards to earn Avios points. The paid cards can be worth considering for welcome bonuses and improved 2-4-1 style vouchers. But for most people I think you’re better off earning other points or cashback.

However, you can also convert Avios points into Nectar points, making the free cards a decent paying alternative to Amex if you’re happy to spend your points at Sainsbury’s, Argos or eBay.

What you can earn:

  • 1 Avios point per £1 spent (equivalent of 0.63% when converted to Nectar)

Fees, details and how to apply:

Retailer reward cards

These cards will give you an increased reward rate for spending in specific supermarkets or department stores. It might be possible to equal or beat the rates available on other cards if you regularly shop at those retailers. However the spending elsewhere can be beaten with Amex cards or cashback cards. All are issued by Mastercard.

John Lewis Partnership card

Up to 1.25% back

Great for John Lewis and Waitrose shoppers

Every 500 points you earn are converted to £5 John Lewis vouchers, which can also be spent at Waitrose. They’re sent in the post up to three times a year – so you will have to wait to spend your rewards.

There’s often a welcome offer of triple points at Waitrose or John Lewis for the first 90 days – we list them here.

What you can earn:

  • 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:

Asda Money credit card

Up to 1% back

Great for Asda shoppers

You’ll earn the equivalent of 1% back at Asda, or 0.3% elsewhere. However you get points rather than cashback and there are restrictions on how you can use them at Asda, and they expire within six months. Full details in my review.

There’s sometimes a welcome offer – we list them here.

What you can earn:

  • 1% back on spending at Asda
  • 0.3% back on spending elsewhere

Fees, details and how to apply:

M&S Bank Rewards

1% back

Decent for regular M&S shoppers

If you shop lots at M&S you’ll earn 1% back there, though less elsewhere. There’s also a membership scheme for customers with extra rewards. Here are more details in my M&S Club Rewards review.

Welcome offers occasionally run with extra points when you join – we list them here.

What you can earn:

  • 1 point (i.e. 1%) per £1 spent at M&S
  • 1 point per £5 (i.e. 0.2%) spent elsewhere

Fees, details and how to apply:

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