Credit card providers

If you’re looking to take out a credit card, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. The right credit card provider for you depends on your own needs, but which are the best reviewed in the UK?

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Credit card providers

Doing your research is important when making any major decision and the same applies when choosing a new credit card.

There are lots of things to consider, such as why you need a credit card and what your credit rating looks like. For example, if you need to transfer debt from an existing credit card, a balance transfer card might be for you. Or, if you want to spread the cost of a big purchase, you might want to compare interest-free credit cards.

It is also valuable to look into how different credit card deals and providers have been reviewed by fellow customers.

For all the latest credit card facts and statistics visit our report.

The UK’s best-reviewed credit card providers

Graphic showing top 3 best reviewed credit card providers

1. First Direct - 4.10 out of 5

Trustpilot score: 4.3

Which? Consumer Score: 78%

First by name and nature is First Direct, which scores 4.3 on Trustpilot and 78% with Which? 

Part of the HSBC group, First Direct was one of the first banks to offer 24/7 service to its customers back in 1989.

Today its reputation for great service clearly holds up, regularly topping customer service awards and surveys.

2. John Lewis Finance - 3.98 out of 5

Trustpilot score: 4.2

Which? Consumer Score: 75%

In second is John Lewis Finance, which offers the John Lewis Partnership Credit Card. This allows you to earn cashback when shopping at both the store itself and at Waitrose, scoring 4.2 out of 5 with Trustpilot and 75% with Which?

This credit card allows you to earn 5 points for every £4 you spend at the 2 stores, or 1 point for every £4 spent elsewhere.

However, it’s worth noting that the card is currently being relaunched with NewDay, having previously been partnered with HSBC.

3. Tesco Bank - 3.83 out of 5

Trustpilot score: 4.0

Which? Consumer Score: 73%

Tesco Bank is run by the supermarket of the same name and comes in third place with scores of 4.0 with Trustpilot and 73% with Which?

They offer a wide range of credit card deals including balance transfer, purchase, credit building and all-round credit cards.

Tesco Bank has been praised for its low foreign transaction fees, customer service and easy-to-use mobile app. What’s more, you can also earn Tesco Clubcard points, even if you’re shopping elsewhere.

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The UK’s best-reviewed credit cards

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1. Tesco Bank Clubcard Credit Card (3 types) - 4.59 out of 5

Smart Money People score: 4.17

Defaqto star rating: 5

Three very similar credit cards are tied in first position, each coming from Tesco Bank with an average score of 4.59 out of 5. 

They’re all variations on Tesco’s Clubcard Credit Card and each scored 4.17 with Smart Money People and a perfect 5 stars on Defaqto.

The first is Tesco’s 20/20 Balance Transfer and Purchases credit card which gives you 0% interest on both balance transfers and purchases for 20 months.

It’s joined by the supermarket’s standard purchase credit card and All Round 15 Months credit card, which as the name suggests, offers a 15-month interest-free period.

4. M&S Bank Reward Card - 4.19 out of 5

Smart Money People score: 3.38

Defaqto star rating: 5

Following the trio of Tesco Bank credit cards in first place is the M&S Bank Reward credit card, which scores 3.38 with Smart Money People and 5 out of 5 with Defaqto.

Obviously, this card is ideal for anyone who shops at M&S, but even if you only pop in now and then, it's still a good credit card to have.

It offers 0% interest on new purchases and balance transfers for 12 months and you can boost your rewards by using it alongside a Sparks card at M&S.

5. Nationwide Member Credit Card - 4.12 out of 5

Smart Money People score: 4.24

Defaqto star rating: 4

Completing the top 5 is Nationwide’s Member Credit Card, which scores 4.24 on Smart Money People and 4 out of 5 with Defaqto.

Nationwide’s member credit card comes with a choice of 0% offers and also allows you to make unlimited commission-free purchases when overseas. This makes it a great option if you’re a frequent traveller.

You can choose from the Balance Transfer credit card which gives 0% on transfers for 18 months, or the All Rounder offer, which gives 0% on transfers and purchases for 15 months.

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Card providers with the longest terms & conditions

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Taking out a credit card is a serious financial commitment, so there’s understandably a lot of fine print. The terms and conditions outline the agreement between you and the provider and are designed to protect both sides. However, they can be pretty extensive, which means that despite their importance, most of us are guilty of just skimming them at best.

But which providers have the wordiest terms and conditions documents?

Vanquis Bank’s terms and conditions stretch over 33 pages, made up of a total of 18,390 words. To put that into context, that would take over an hour to read (assuming a reading speed of 275 words per minute).

That’s around 4,000 more words than the Bank of Scotland in second, which is closely followed by Lloyds Bank.

On the other hand, some providers make their T&Cs much more succinct, such as M&S Bank, which has just under 6,000 words. However, that would still take 21 minutes and 40 seconds to read fully!

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Who are the best credit card providers?

Based on customer reviews, First Direct came out as the best credit card provider in the UK. On top of this, First Direct was named Most Trusted Financial Provider by Moneywise and came top in the Competition and Markets Authority survey for service quality.

First Direct was followed in our ranking by two retail-based providers, John Lewis Finance and Tesco Bank.

How do credit cards work?

Credit cards are a flexible way to pay for goods and services if you don’t necessarily have the cash upfront.

They allow you to spend money up to a certain credit limit and you’ll have to pay back a minimum amount each month.

However, it's recommended that you pay off the full balance each month. The minimum payments will differ between credit cards and you’ll also have to pay interest and sometimes an annual fee on top of this.

If you’re worried about forgetting to pay off your monthly minimum balance, the best thing to do is set up a Direct Debit.

How does interest work on credit cards?

If you don’t pay off your balance in full by the end of the month, you’ll have to pay interest on your credit card.

Exactly how much interest you pay will be based on the average daily balance during the statement period, and is compounded daily.

However, there are different types of interest rates. For example, some cards may offer a 0% or a very low interest rate for the first few months.

Methodology and sources

For both credit card providers and individual credit cards, average scores were taken from two different review sites, looking at each provider and credit card that appeared on both sites.

For providers, scores were sourced from Trustpilot and Which? With the scores out of 100 from Which? being divided by 20 to make them comparable with the Trustpilot scores out of 5.

For individual credit cards, scores were sourced from Smart Money People and Defaqto. Note that Defaqto scores are based on features and benefits, rather than customer service. In addition, only credit cards that had at least 50 reviews on Smart Money People were included.

The terms and conditions of each credit card provider were sourced from the individual websites of each provider, with the word counts and reading times calculated using WordCounter, assuming a reading speed of 275 words per minute.

If credit card agreements were listed separately from the terms and conditions, these two documents were combined.

More credit card inspiration

Taking out a credit card is a big decision, hence why it's important to do your research on everything from customer reviews, to interest rates and rewards. Our expert guides will help you decipher which credit card is right for you.

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About Salman Haqqi

Salman is our personal finance editor with over 10 years’ experience as a journalist. He has previously written for Finder and regularly provides his expert view on financial and consumer spending issues for local and national press.

View Salman Haqqi's full biography here or visit the press centre for our latest news.