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If you like to spend on your credit card and pay it off in full every month, you don't need flashy 0% interest offers, or even a particularly low purchase rate (as you never intend to pay it). Instead you want a credit card that will reward your custom, perhaps with points or vouchers, or even with cashback.
Rewards credit cards are just that, allowing you to get something back every time you use the card to make a purchase. The best credit card rewards can significantly reduce your monthly spend thanks to supermarket points, or even allow you to go on holiday for free thanks to generous travel rewards.
Given the variety of rewards that are available, you'll want to think carefully about what will have the biggest impact; are you happy to get extra spending money that can be used in just one supermarket chain, or would you rather have cash? Where do you currently spend most of your money, and how many reward points would you be able to get from it?
Whichever card you decide to go for, just remember that you really do need to make sure that you can pay off your debt in full every single month. If you don't, you could end up paying more in interest than you're getting in rewards, defeating the purpose of having a reward credit card. If you're not confident you'll remember to pay off the balance every time, you could even set up a monthly standing order to automate the process.
The credit card market, including credit cards with rewards, is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Consumer Credit Act. Among other things, this means you get a certain amount of protection on your purchases when using a credit card.
Reward credit cards work just like any other credit card; you use credit to make purchases or transfer debt, and if you don't manage to pay all the debt you've put on the card within a month, you are charged interest. If you don't manage to make at least a minimum payment every month, you will also likely be charged a penalty fee, and may lose any special offers you've been enjoying.
Therefore, to get the most from a reward credit card, you will want to minimise the above-mentioned costs. This means paying the card debt off every month, avoiding using the card abroad, and not taking money out using your plastic friend. You'll also want to try and maximise the rewards you are getting from the card provider.
For credit cards that offer cashback as a reward (and please note that we have a separate chart with only cashback cards if that's all you're interested in), this means using the card to make purchases as much as possible, potentially even until you reach your credit limit, assuming you're getting a percentage back on every single purchase. If you pick a card with points instead, find out where you can get the most points as well as how you can spend them. While some cards will allow you to get cash in exchange for points, some may only give you vouchers to spend in their stores or petrol stations, so read the terms and conditions carefully.
Where a card offers points as a reward for spending, it's important you check how much the points are worth as well. Points schemes vary massively in value, so don't assume that if you earn four points per £1 spent, it's necessarily going to be better than a card offering one point per £1 spent.
Say you're comparing two cards that allow you to earn one point for every £1 you spend. With Card A you need to collect 1,000 points to earn a £5 voucher, and with Card B you just need to earn 500 points to get a £5 voucher. Although both cards appear to offer the same deal, Card B offers the more generous reward scheme.
Calculate what you need to know before applying.
Balance transfer calculator – calculate how much you could save by switching to a 0% balance transfer credit card.
Minimum repayment calculator – calculate how long it will take to clear your balance when only making the minimum repayments.
Repayment calculator – calculate how quickly you could pay off your credit card.
As stated, most cards will give you reward points which can be exchanged for cash or vouchers. Reward points can be restricted to a single brand, but you can also get cards that give you air miles and such for travelling, or cards that allow you to spend vouchers at a wide variety of partners. The best reward credit cards may even offer introductory interest-free terms on purchases as well.
Before you decide on a card, do some calculations to see how many points you would get and what they are worth, or what your percentage of cashback would be. And of course, make sure that you shop frequently at the places where you'd be able to use your vouchers, so your hard-earned rewards don't go to waste.
The key to choosing the right reward credit card is to select a card that offers rewards useful to you. For instance, if you spend a lot on your weekly food shop, a reward credit card that gives you vouchers or points to spend there might be a good option (indeed, some supermarkets have even started offering credit cards that also double as a loyalty card for just this purpose), or if you are a frequent flyer, a reward credit card that earns you air miles might be the way to go.
Depending on your needs, finding the best reward card may be a simple matter of finding the card from your favourite supermarket that sits highest in the charts. If you’d rather have cash in hand, you might want to look at our dedicated cashback credit card comparison chart instead.
In the end, the best reward credit card will depend on your personal wishes and circumstances. Whatever you decide, make sure your credit score is up to scratch before you apply so you can get the best deal possible with the lowest interest rate. Remember that the representative APR may not be the APR you are offered. You'll also want to make sure you can repay any debt on your credit card in full each month, to avoid diluting the rewards you're getting through interest and/or charges.
Deciding on the card for you will take a little bit of research, for the simple reason that you're going to want to benefit from the rewards you're earning. Make sure you dig a little deeper so you know exactly how much points are worth, what they can be converted into, and whether there are any partner companies that will accept reward vouchers as well. You'll need to take a close look at the best rate tables and the finer details on the card's site itself, but it could be worth it!
Once you've got a card that gives you the rewards you want, it's time to get spending! Don't use it as an excuse to spend more than you normally would, however – it's all about using it for normal, everyday spending, in essence using it as an alternative to debit cards or cash. That way, you can earn a huge number of points simply by spending as normal, especially at special times of the year like the Christmas shopping season.
Keep tabs on what you're spending to make sure you don't blow your budget, but also keep an eye that you're meeting the spending requirements of the card. Some even offer bonus points if you spend a certain amount in the first few months, for example.
This is perhaps the most important thing to remember – you need to make sure that you pay the balance off in full every single month, otherwise you'll be charged interest that could easily eat into the benefits you've earned and could even outweigh them completely. Ideally, you'll want to set up a direct debit to repay the balance, as that way, you needn't worry about forgetting.
In line with the above, you want to make sure that you're not actually "borrowing" from the card for too long; instead, you'll want to treat it as more of a debit card, safe in the knowledge that you can pay it off and earn rewards at the same time. Similarly, never use these cards to withdraw cash, as you'll likely be charged a hefty interest rate and a fee as well – even if you pay it off afterwards.
Before you apply for that new card, you'll want to make sure your credit score is as good as possible, thereby maximising your chance of acceptance and reducing the possibility of earning a black mark on your credit history.
To do that, you'll need to contact a credit check provider, so you can check your report and see if there are any areas you need to improve on. For example, you'll need to make sure that you're on the electoral roll at your current address and that there aren't any discrepancies on your file, and you may need to close old accounts that are no longer used.
So, are you ready to get more from your everyday spending? Remember that this route should only be considered by those who are fully able to repay any outstanding balances each month, but if you're confident you can make that kind of commitment, find the best reward credit cards and see the kind of benefits you could earn.
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