Credit cards are not only a useful tool for borrowing money. If used properly, it’s possible to get a whole host of free gifts, discounts and cash back, too.
Customers who pay off their bill in full every month can make a tidy profit when using some credit cards.
Here, we highlight some of the best credit cards available on the market for cash back deals, retail and airline rewards.
Go further: Which? Credit card comparison tables – compare the best deals on the market
Best cash back credit cards
Cash back credit cards offer a cash reward for your spending. This is typically paid out once a year.
Some cards offer an introductory cash back rate as high as 5% on spending in the first few months. After that you could earn 1% or 2% back on the more generous cards. Sometimes the cash back deal only applies to spending within a certain limit.
Our cash back credit card tables show you how much you could earn if you spend £500 a month. On this basis, the American Express Platinum Cashback card offers the most money back. Even taking into account the annual card fee of £25, you’d still be up £106 by the end of the year. But American Express isn’t as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard.
The Santander 123 credit card offers 1% cash back at major supermarkets, 2% at major department stores and 3% on petrol and train tickets, including the London Underground. The 3% rate applies up to a maximum of £300 each month. There’s a £24 annual fee, although that’s waived for the first year if you also have a Santander 123 current account. The Santander 123 card also offers a market-leading 0% interest rate on purchases for the first 18 months.
If you’re not paying your balance in full every month, a cash back card is unlikely to represent the best deal. Our comparison tables also list cards with the lowest interest rates.
Go further: Best cash back credit cards – all available deals compared
Best credit cards for retail rewards
Retail rewards credit cards offer a reward in the form of shopping vouchers for a particular retailer. There are several cards offering vouchers equivalent to a 3% cash back on shopping with the retailer, and up to 1% on purchases made elsewhere.
The Nectar Amex card and the House of Fraser MasterCard are among the most generous on purchases made elsewhere, offering vouchers equivalent to 1% cash back.
For purchases made in store, Debenhams and House of Fraser are currently amongst the most generous providers, offering customers 3% of their in-store spend back as gift vouchers.
But, if you’re not a regular shopper in any of these stores, you may be better off with another of the credit cards listed in our comparison tables.
Go further: Best credit cards for retail rewards – all available deals compared
Best for airline rewards
There are plenty of credit cards which offer rewards specifically for flights and travel products. Among the fee-free options, you can earn 1.5 points per pound on Lufthansa’s Miles & More Amex card, one Avios point per pound on the British Airways Amex card, or one Flying Club point per pound on the Virgin Atlantic White credit card. Miles & More and Virgin also offer Visa cards which accumulate points at half the rate of the Amex cards.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that many of these credit cards have high annual fees and huge representative APRs, so they’re only suitable if you’re able to pay off the balance in full every month.
Go further: Best credit cards for travel rewards – all available deals compared