Top credit cards for 2022

If you’re looking for a credit card these are the ones you need.

Credit cards can be good, and they can be bad. It all depends on why you want one and how you use it.

In this guide I’ll take you through each of the main purposes for credit cards and my picks of the best ones available, though as I’ll explain, sometimes you might be better off with a different option (it’ll all become clear).

So whether you need to reduce the cost of existing debt, spread out the cost of a new purchase, earn cashback or rewards, build your credit rating or get some extra consumer protection, these are the top credit cards for 2022.

Watch my video round up

The best credit card for you

Andy’s Credit Card Basics

Check eligibility before applying

There’s no guarantee you’ll get accepted for these top cards, and a rejection can hurt your credit score. So always do an eligibility check beforehand via a comparison site. If there’s a different card where you are pre-approved or have a higher chance of acceptance they might be better bets. Here’s more on why this is important and how these work.

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.

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.

Best Reward & Cashback Credit Cards

My top pick for everyday spending is actually a debit card from Chase Bank – you can get 1% back for 12 months. However, if you’re new to American Express (or haven’t had one in 24 months) you can get a welcome bonus which is worth a lot more!

Plus it can be handy to earn points on purchases where you want the added consumer protection that credit cards offer.

I’ve got more about all the different cashback cards here, including Visa and Mastercard alternatives.

Winner: American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card

  • Welcome offer: 20,000 Amex Reward Points (worth up to £184 if converted to Nectar points)
  • Offer requirement: Spend £3,000 in three months
  • Card fee: Free in year one (then £140 a year)
  • Ongoing cashback: 1 point per £1 (0.8% if converted to Nectar points)

For anyone without an American Express this has the best ongoing welcome offer (though look out for boosted offers on other cards throughout the year – I’ll share the best ones here).

If you spend £3,000 in the first three months you’ll get 20,000 bonus points, plus another 3,000 earned on the actual spending. If you convert these to Avios points and then into Nectar points, that’s worth a total of £184.

After the three months the rate (if swapped to Avios to Nectar) works out as 0.8%. That’s not bad, and you get the points straight away, but still less than the Chase Bank option.

* click “View all cards” once page is opened to see all the options

Runner up: American Express Platinum Cashback credit card

  • Welcome offer: 5% back for the first three months (up to £125)
  • Offer requirement: No minimium spend
  • Card fee: £25 (can get this back via referral link)
  • Ongoing cashback: 0.75% per £1, then 1.25% after £10,000 spend (resets each year)

If you want a welcome bonus but don’t think you’ll spend £3,000 then do check out the other cards. The most risk free is the Amex Platinum Cashback credit card.

You’ll earn 5% on the first £2,500 you spend in the first three months, and then reverts to the underlying 0.75% once you reach that total or the start of the fourth month. But you’ll still get your 5% even if you spend less.

* click “View all cards” once page is opened to see all the options

Runner Up: Barclaycard Rewards

  • Cashback: 0.25%
  • Extras: Up to five months free Apple TV+ and Apple Music

If you want a non-Amex cashback card then I’d go with the Barclaycard Rewards card.

Best Travel credit card

I think you’re actually better off using a fee-free debit card for overseas spending (here are my top picks). But if you want added credit card protection, or would rather not take your main current account card with you (in case it’s lost or stolen), then a card can still be useful.

Winner: Barclaycard Rewards

  • Spending: Fee-free
  • Cash withdrawals: Fee-free
  • Cashback: 0.25%
  • Extras: Up to five months free Apple TV+ and Apple Music

This is the best option as not only is it fee free for spending and cash withdrawals, but you’ll also earn 0.25% cashback on all your spending. Only the Chase Bank debit card can beat that.

Best 0% Purchase credit card

Assuming that you will clear the balance by the end of the 0% period, the most important factors here are how long you need 0% for, and if you can get bonus cashback or freebies if accepted.

Winner: Barclaycard Platinum

  • 0% length: Up to 24 months
  • Cashback: £20 when you spend £250 in 90 days (ends 8 February, but often available via Quidco too)
  • Extras: Up to five months free Apple TV+ and Apple Music

This is the longest 0% card right now, though you might not get the full two years and also one with the best extras. There’s currently £20 on offer and loads of Apple streaming freebies.

Runner up: Tesco Bank 0% BT and Purchase card

  • 0% length: Up to 20 months
  • Cashback: Around £20 to £30

If you check your eligibility and you won’t get the Barclaycard, then I’d go for whichever card gives you the time you need. But if you don’t need a super long period at 0% then look at Quidco and TopCashback to see what cashback is on offer.

Right now TopCashback is offering £30 for a Tesco Bank credit card giving 0% on purchases of up to 20 months (you might get less months). This is the “Balance Transfer & Purchase” card, not the “Purchase” credit card – there’s no cashback on the latter.

Best 0% Balance Transfer credit cards

If you have existing credit card debts then a balance transfer credit card allows you to move that money over to a new card where no interest is added for a set time. With some you also pay a transfer fee. Here’s more on how they work and the pitfalls to avoid.

Sometimes longest isn’t best, and going for a fee-free card could be much cheaper. Remember, card offers come and go, so keep an eye on my credit card best buy guide for changes.

Winner: Santander Everyday No Balance Transfer Fee card

  • 0% length: 18 months
  • Transfer fee: 0%
  • Cashback: £30

This isn’t the longest 0% card right now, but if you can clear your debt in 18 months it’s my winner as there’s no transfer fee (the equivalent saving of £75 on a £2,500 debt with a 3% fee) and you can get £30 cashback via TopCashback and Quidco.

Runner up: Virgin Money

  • 0% length: 35 months
  • Transfer fee: 2.94%
  • Cashback: £0

If you really need as long as you can then this card from Virgin Money can’t be beaten, though you might be able to get ones not too much shorter with lower fees.

Best 0% Money Transfer credit cards

Similar to Balance Transfer cards, these ones will transfer money from the new card to your bank account, so they’re useful for clearing overdrafts, catalogue debts and other loans. Here’s more on how they work.

Winner: MBNA

  • 0% length: Up to 18 months
  • Transfer fee: 2.99% or 3.49%

It’s not a guaranteed 18 months but it’s longer than the other options and the transfer fee is lower.

Best credit building credit cards

Using any credit card responsibly can boost your credit score, but there are a few designed for those with low credit. As with all the other cards the best bet is the one with the highest score on your eligibility check.

But if you have a few choices these ones come with a bonus or cashback on acceptance. Here’s more on getting a credit building credit card.

Winner: Amazon Classic

  • Cashback: £20 Amazon voucher

This voucher is direct from Amazon. You also get three months at 0% with this card.

Runner up: Barclaycard Foward

  • Cashback: £19

You can get this cashback via Quidco or TopCashback. Check your eligibility before applying.

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