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How to choose a credit card

With hundreds of different credit cards to choose from, the UK has one of the most competitive credit card markets in the world.

The best card for you will depend upon how you intend to use it. Before you choose a card you should consider why you want it and how you will use it.

You can find out all the key features of a credit card, including fees and charges, in the summary box, which appears on all credit card marketing material and statements.

The summary box is always in the same format, allowing you to compare products simply and easily.

Types of credit card

Standard

A standard credit card generally does not come with any long promotional offers, and typically has an advertised annual interest rate of around 12 to 25 per cent.

Cards with an introductory offer often revert to this type once the promotional period comes to an end.

Low-rate

Similar to a standard credit card, a low-rate card does not usually have any promotional offers, but has a lower annual interest rate of typically around 6.5 to 12 per cent.

Low-rate credit cards can be an alternative to 0 per cent balance transfer or purchase cards.

Credit builder

Credit builder cards are generally offered to customers who are a higher risk, either because they have a low credit score or little credit history.

A credit builder card generally has a higher annual interest rate, typically around 30 per cent. The initial credit limit is generally low, at around £150 to £500. This can then be increased gradually over time according to the customer’s behaviour.

Balance transfer

Balance transfer cards are designed for customers wishing to move existing credit card borrowing to a lower interest rate. Typically these offer a 0 per cent interest rate on balances transferred from another credit card for a set period of time.

There will often be a balance transfer fee, often around 2 to 3 per cent of the amount transferred.

Purchase

Purchase credit cards have an introductory interest rate, typically 0 per cent, for new purchases for a set period of time.

Combined balance transfer and purchase

Combining the features of balance transfer and purchase credit cards, these cards offer a low interest rate, typically 0 per cent, on both new purchase and transferred balances for a set period of time.

There will often be a balance transfer fee, but generally no fee is applied to new purchases. The promotional periods for purchases and balance transfers can differ in length depending on the card.

Reward

Reward credit cards offer customers additional benefits when they use their cards. Rewards include cashback, where customers receive a percentage of their spending back as cash, and loyalty points and vouchers which can be used in exchange for goods and services.

Reward cards generally also include the features of a standard credit card.

Some reward cards have introductory offers, providing additional or improved benefits for a promotional period.

How to choose

There are a range of different resources to help you choose the right card for you. These include price comparison websites which enable you to view products from different providers side by side.

Be aware not all comparison sites are completely independent and they may be sponsored in some way to recommend certain products over others.

You can calculate the cost of using a particular credit card by using The UK Card Association’s Card Cost website.

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