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24 Jun 2022

Which? reveals best credit card providers of 2022

Find out what real customers think of their providers before you apply for your next credit card

With credit card borrowing rising at its fastest annual rate in 17 years, Which? has revealed it's top recommended providers for 2022.

The latest data from the Bank of England revealed borrowers put £300bn on their credit cards in the last three months.

Experts said the data shows we are a 'divided nation', with millions borrowing money to stay afloat during the cost of living crisis, and others splashing out on luxuries.  

If you're thinking of getting a new credit card, or switching from your existing provider, find out which firms have been rated highest by their customers. 

Here, Which? explains the results from our annual credit card survey rating 25 cards, and which providers we're recommending in 2022. 

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Which? Recommended Providers for 2022

We surveyed 6,207 card holders in May to get their views on how they rate 25 credit card providers across 10 categories. These include things like customer service, mobile app and overseas fees. You can view the full scores for each provider in our best and worst credit cards providers guide

We then combined the customer score with our own product analysis to award firms Which? Recommended Provider status (WRP). 

In order to qualify, a brand must: 

  • have a customer score of at least 70% in our latest customer satisfaction survey
  • have at least one top 10 card in one of the seven main categories available on the market
  • have an average or above average product analysis score
  • not have a representative APR of more than 25% at the time of the analysis on any of its mainstream cards.

This year, our WRP's are American Express, Halifax, Tesco Bank and Virgin Money. 

American Express

American Express received a customer score of 76%, thanks to its highly-rated customer service, online and mobile app management facilities, and how the provider deals with queries. 

Its range of cashback credit cards are also among the most generous on the market.

For instance, the American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card offers 5% cashback (up to £100) in your first three months and a rate of 0.5%-1% thereafter. There’s no annual fee and the card has a representative 25.3% APR (variable). Credit is subject to status and terms apply.

Halifax

Halifax customers gave a score of 72%, and the highest ratings were given for its app, online service for managing accounts, and its overall customer service. 

Among its available credit cards, the Halifax Clarity card is a top pick for spending abroad, as there are no foreign transaction fees, nor do you have to pay an annual fee.

Tesco Bank

Tesco Bank received a customer score of 73%, with customers rating it highly for the ability to manage their account online, its mobile app and customer service. 

As a credit card provider, Tesco Bank has a broad range of cards suitable for different types of borrowers. Its Tesco Purchases Credit Card, for example, offers up to 23 months with 0% on purchases, and you can also earn Clubcard points on spending.

Virgin Money

Customers with Virgin Money credit cards gave the provider a score of 70%, rating it highly for its application process, its mobile app and its clarity of statement. 

Virgin Money currently offers one of the longest balance transfer credit cards on the market, at 34 months, with an a APR of 21.9%. The card can also be used for money transfers for 12 months and interest-free purchases for three months.

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What else did our survey find?

We also asked customers about their credit card spending habits. Here are the key findings: 

Most customers have another product with their credit card provider 

We asked card holders why they have their specific credit card, and the most popular reason was because they held another product with their credit card provider.

This was the case for customers who held cards with Barclaycard, Bank of Scotland, The Co-Operative Bank, Lloyds, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Nationwide, NatWest, Santander, Royal Bank of Scotland, TSB and Vanquis. 

If you like using a particular provider, this can be a good way to choose other products - however, it's still worth shopping around to make sure you're getting a competitive deal that works for you.

Getting rewards such as retail points, air miles or cashback was the second most popular reason for choosing their credit card.

For example, people held cards with American Express to earn cashback, and credit cards with Amazon, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and Tesco Bank for retailer rewards. 

Two thirds of card holders have an outstanding balance

Our survey found only a third (34%) of credit card holders had no outstanding balance, while one in five (22%) had under £500. 

Card holders aged over 55 and over were more likely to have £0 outstanding balance, compared to the youngest age group of 18 to 24-year-olds. 

In fact, only 19% of the 18-24 age group had a £0 balance, compared with 42% of the group aged over 55. 

Our survey also found 7% of respondents had paid for household bills with their credit cards in the last 12 months. 

Unless you have a 0% purchase deal, or transfer your debt to a 0% balance transfer card, it's usually best to pay off your credit card in full each month to avoid the issue of mounting interest.

If you're struggling to keep up with credit card repayments, our guide on how to pay off your debts can help.

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Top tips for using a choosing a credit card

1. Find out which type you of card you want

There are several types of credit cards to choose from, and they suit different purposes and circumstances. For instance, some specialise in cashback and rewards - which can be good for everyday spending, while others are better for shifting debt or making a big purchase

Therefore you should try and pick a provider that matches what you want from the card. 

We have a number of credit card guides on the different types, so you can see how each one could suit you. 

2. Check our individual reviews

If the ability to manage your account online or customer service are high on your priorities when picking a provider, make sure you check out our best and worst credit card providers guide. 

We also have individual brand review pages so you can see the scores for each brand in more detail. 

3. Find out if you’re eligible before applying 

When you apply for a credit card it will leave a mark on your credit file, so if you apply and you are rejected, it will be more difficult to get a card in the future. This is why it’s always best to check your eligibility first. 

Most credit card providers will have an option to do this on their website beforehand - it will include a 'soft search' of your credit report, which won't affect your credit score.