Recently I have been getting a lot of requests from people I know about the best reward cards in the UK (credit and debit) and I recently covered this briefly on a friends forum. I am constantly following the best cards to use for every day spend. If you are not using reward credit/debit cards you really need to start doing (you are either throwing away money or could be making money doing nothing different, depending how you want to look at it). Reward cards are a great way to save some money on all your spend if you use the right combination of cards.
Instead of constantly explaining the best cards to get at present and covering the benefits of each I thought it made sense to do a blog post about this.
Below I have listed the best personal credit and debit cards I can find. The recommendations listed below don’t constitute advice in any way. These are simply the best cards I have found that work well for me and may work well for you.
One very important point to remember is that if you don’t pay the credit cards off in full (before any interest free period ends) then you will most likely lose any reward benefit you would have gained from the card.
The Best Personal Credit & Debit Cards
American Express Rewards Credit Card
Annual Fee – £0 | Reward – Earn 1 point per £1 spent
This card is perfect if you don’t want any ‘extra’ benefits with your card. There is no annual admin fee for the credit card and you earn 1 point for every £1 you spent. Nerdwallet.com an American site reckons an Amex point is worth between 0.5 to 1 cents (0.4p to 0.8p), I tend to agree with this, maybe a little more towards the higher end in the UK. It depends how you spend your points though to what value you get out of them.
Perks – You get access to Amex Offers (I believe you do with any Amex card you have direct with American Express). Amex Offers is a brilliant way to save some extra money and for the past few years in December they have done Shop Small which is probably the best Amex offer of all, if you spend £10+ on your Amex card at a small retailer you get £5 back! And it’s once per small retailer while the promotion is on, not just once per year. There are other great offers from time to time as well, recently there was a promo to spend £30+ on fuel at BP using their app and you got £10 back.
Disadvantages of this card – American Express isn’t accepted everywhere so you can’t earn points on all your spend. This card also charges you to use it abroad and it’s not even one of the cheapest cards for using abroad either. So avoid using this card abroad entirely.
Offers – Right now the American Express Rewards Credit Card has an offer on where you can get enjoy 0% for 18 months on purchases or if you don’t need interest free credit you could look at another deal on the same card where you get 10,000 bonus points when you spend £1,000 in your first 3 months.
If you are looking for a card with lounge passes and other perks then the American Express Gold card might be more for you. It has an annual fee of £140 though so you need to factor this in when calculating if the card is worth it for you (along with the value of the lounge passes to you).
Tandem Cashback Credit Card
Annual Fee – £0 | Reward – 0.5% cashback on all purchases over £1 worldwide
This card also doesn’t have an annual fee (not a fan of cards that have an annual fee as usually it requires a fair amount of spending before you are actually in ‘profit’). Personally I think the Amex card is better than this but the main advantage of this card is it is a Mastercard so its acceptance rate is higher than American Express (although its surprising how many places take Amex nowadays in the UK). This is perfect for the times the store doesn’t take Amex though.
Perks – There are no fees for making purchases abroad (Interest will still be charged as normal). This is huge perk to this card, as the Amex card does charge you for using it abroad and so will most current account debit cards as well. I haven’t found a better card than this for overseas spending as not only is it fee free you also get cashback.
Disadvantages of this card – This card doesn’t offer balance transfers. No Apple Pay support. I am in the process of ditching my wallet, so this is a big downside for me. However, for you this might not matter.
Unlike American Express, there isn’t a whole range of cards to choose from with Tandem so its pretty straight forward if you want the card or not, you can apply for the Tandem Cashback credit card here.
Halifax Reward Account Debit Card
Annual Fee – £0 | Reward – Varies see below
Finally, the 3rd card is a debit card with a current account. There are times when a company you are purchasing from won’t accept a credit card (really? Yes but it is pretty rare) and will only take debit cards. This is when this card comes in (plus there are some other perks). Although as a side note there are ways of getting round the no credit card restriction if you want (I am taking about Curve).
Now the way the rewards work with the Halifax card is very similar to Amex Offers, on their online banking they have offers for specific stores and you must ‘activate’ these in order to get the cashback on purchases.
To be honest it was a very hard decision to list either the Halifax Reward Current Account debit card or the NatWest Reward account debit card as the NatWest card tends to offer lower cashback rates but you don’t need to activate them making it a use and forget card. The issue with the NatWest card, and the reason I picked the Halifax card, is the account comes with a small monthly fee (although if you have household bills you can usually make a profit to cover this from their cashback on household bills).
Due to the fact I couldn’t decide (and NatWest and Halifax cashback retailers can be different) on this one I ended up getting both of them myself and although I am ditching my wallet both these support Apple Pay so its not really an issue to carry both of these around with me as they exist digitally on my phone.
Perks – If you pay in £750 or more a month, pay out 2 different direct debits and stay in credit, Halifax will pay you £2 a month. Nice little bonus ey!
Disadvantages of this card – As I mentioned above you have to remember to ‘activate’ the cashback offers before making a purchase, it also doesn’t cover anywhere near every retailer/transaction like the reward credit cards do. However, the cashback rates can be as high as 15% from Halifax, far higher than 0.5-1% from reward credit cards.
Offers – Halifax have a promotion on right now where you can get £135 for free if you switch your current account to them!
Its a fair few bank cards, I know..
It might seem like a lot of credit/debit cards to carry around especially when you should be thinking to maximise your gains from purchases, you should be carrying around loyalty cards as well. Fear not! So many loyalty cards and bank cards now support Apple Wallet and Google Wallet. I am in the process of compiling a list of stores that support digital wallets and I will post this shortly.
Finally, I recommend checking the above companies websites before ordering any of these cards or setting up accounts with them, as the information listed may become outdated in the future.
Disclaimer – It’s important to note the information above does not constitute financial advice, always do your own research on top to ensure the products above are right for you.
What about Business Reward Credit & Debit Cards?
Blogs always seem to forget about these! Don’t worry, I am planning to do another blog post shortly covering the best business credit and debit cards to use. This will go into the best ones to use abroad as well for overseas business expenditure. Please subscribe if you want to be updated when this is posted! 🙂