Taking advantage of the best credit card offers can make a big difference to your finances and the cost of borrowing when you need it. Here’s how to find the best credit card deals for your individual circumstances.
Credit cards can be a cheap and convenient way to borrow money; they offer more flexibility than a personal loan and are often cheaper than using your overdraft.
However, with so many different types of credit cards on the market, how do you make sure you choose the best credit card deals for you?
Which are the best credit cards for the way you spend will depend entirely on your circumstances, what you’re looking for in a card and your current financial circumstances.
So before you start your credit card comparison you need to decide what type of card will give you the benefits you need.
0% balance transfer credit cards
If you already have a credit card and want to move your outstanding borrowing to an interest free home then one of the many credit cards with 0% interest deals on balance transfers are likely to be your best option.
This type of credit card allows you to move the existing balance from your old credit card onto your new card and will give you a set period to repay the debt interest free – all in return for a small fee.
To find the best 0% credit cards for balance transfers you will need to work out how long you will take to repay the balance you want to move and look for the interest free credit cards offering a sufficient 0% balance transfer period.
Once you find the cards that offer 0% balance transfers for long enough to clear your credit card borrowing you will also need to take into account each credit card’s balance transfer fee.
Usually the longer the 0% period the higher the transfer fee will be, so if you can repay your balance within a shorter period you should look for 0% APR credit cards with a smaller fee to make the transfer cheaper.
If you can’t find a card with a sufficient 0% period you may want to look at life of balance credit cards. These will apply a low interest rate from the outset until your balance is repaid.
Alternatively you could apply for the longest available 0% deal and look to move anything left outstanding to a new 0% home at the end of the deal period.
Finally, it also makes sense to apply for credit card deals with the lowest standard interest rates. This is a good precaution to take as it means that if you can’t clear the balance before the end of your 0% deal and don't switch right away you’re charged less.
For more help choosing the best balance transfer credit cards read our guide: How to Find the Best Credit Card 0% Balance Transfers or compare credit cards directly using our 0% balance transfer comparison table.
0% purchases credit cards
If you are looking to spread the cost of a major purchase then credit cards with 0% interest deals on purchases are likely to be a good choice.
A 0% purchase credit card will allow you to spend on the credit card without charging you interest on your balance for a set 0% period.
For this reason if you are looking to purchase a large item and spread the cost over several months this type of credit card is often ideal.
As with a 0% balance transfer card, the duration of the 0% deal on purchases is likely to be the most important factor when deciding which is the best card for you.
However you should also try to apply for low interest credit cards, so if you still have some of your borrowing to repay at the end of the 0% period that you are not charged over the odds due to a high interest rate.
You can use our dedicated 0% Purchases credit card comparison table to find the best credit card for purchases.
Credit cards for bad credit
If you have a poor credit history and want to improve your credit record, or simply want a credit card to use for day to day spending, then applying for bad credit credit cards could be your best choice.
This type of credit card may also be worth considering if you are applying for your first credit card and have little track record of managing credit.
However, if you are a student and are looking for your first credit card, you should consider a dedicated student credit card, as they are likely to have lower interest rates than bad credit credit cards.
While bad credit credit cards are likely to offer modest credit limits they are more likely to accept a credit card application from people with a poor or little credit record.
However, poor credit credit cards are unlikely to offer 0% interest deals and often apply high rates so it makes sense to look for a card with the lowest possible interest rate to keep your costs down.
To avoid incurring significant interest charges it's also a good idea to pay off the balance in full each month so you avoid earning interest entirely.
Cashback & Rewards credit cards
If you want to earn something back for using a credit card and plan on clearing your credit card balance in full each month then rewards and cash back credit cards could be an attractive option.
A cash back credit card works by giving you a small percentage of the money you spend on the credit card back in cold hard cash.
This means that as long as you repay your credit card borrowing in full each month to avoid interest charges that you can actually profit from a cashback credit card.
An alternative to a cash back credit card are rewards credit cards which offer you rewards for spending using your credit card ranging from shopping vouchers to travel and entertainment discounts.
Air miles credit cards, where you build up air miles for free flights, are just one of the popular types of reward credit cards on the market.
Compare the options available and choose the reward credit card that will be of most benefit to you.
Overseas credit cards
You may also want to consider a credit card for your spending while overseas, especially if you don’t want to carry large amounts of foreign currency with you.
Additionally, many top overseas credit card are much cheaper than using your debit card for transactions while your abroad, however choose the wrong credit card and you could still be stung by heavy fees.