Credit Cards

It's rare that a day goes by without being bombarded with headlines about Britain's spiralling high street debt - but credit cards aren't nearly as daunting as they may seem.

Why get a credit card?

The most obvious reason to get a credit card is so that you can make purchases - particularly big, expensive ones that would take a few months' salary to pay straight away - then instead settle your tab on a straight-forward, low-interest basis over a time-frame which suits you and your income pattern.

But credit cards can also help you improve your credit score, which can be important if you're a young person looking to take your first steps on your property ladder (particularly if you've a sketchy history of late payments and overdue bills).

Certain credit card providers offer reward and discount schemes as well, which allow you to cash in points you have accrued in return for perks from participating brands. This is particularly common among high-end airlines, many of whom can give you special access to lounges and first-class seating for your flights.

Finally, credit cards can be a more suitable way of spending money overseas as they often allow you to circumvent additional service fees typically imposed by your bank, whilst also giving you added protection in the event of theft (credit companies are obliged to pay you back where you can prove you did not make transactions yourself).


It's important you keep an eye on comparison websites like Compare The Market, Money Super Market and Which? as these companies regularly update their pages with up to the minute information on credit card companies, including any recently added perks.

However, below is a brief overview of some of the major UK credit card providers, and the types of cards and associated terms they currently offer.

CapitalOne is currently advertising a card which promises 0% on balance transfers and credit limit up to £6000. Their most popular classic credit card is offering 34.9% variable APR on purchases and up to £1500 limit.

OceanFinance's credit cards give you the opportunity to check if you are eligible before applying without affecting your credit score. Their representative APR is a bit higher - 39.9% /variable/ with similar limits to other provider's credit cards.

Tesco - a relatively recent entry into the credit card market - give 24 months and, once again, 18.9% APR. You can also use your card as a means of collecting club points. This is a particularly good option if you suffer from a low or damaged credit rating.

Amex's British Airways Card is one of the most enticing on the UK market, with 22.9% APR - as well as a host of reward scheme options on the Avios fly system. The caveat, however, is that you will need an excellent credit rating in order to be given one - and in practice most first-timers are unlikely to be successful in their application.

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